73rd over: West Indies 170-3 (Brathwaite 66, Blackwood 39) Stokes continues, pounding in at Blackwood, either going short and being ignored, or going full with some reverse and being blocked. The batters have been staunch. After Antigua, we thought Nkrumah Bonner was the titan of tedium, but these two are giving him a run for his money. Or rather, no run.
72nd over: West Indies 170-3 (Brathwaite 66, Blackwood 39) You’re not going to believe this but there’s been a run! And a false shot too. Jack Leach, replacing Fisher, bowls a beauty to Blackwood, nice and slow – just what the Gower ordered. It goes through the top of the pitch and turns sharply, taking the edge – but the ball goes wide of slip and trickles away for a single. Still, it’s a glimmer.
71st over: West Indies 169-3 (Brathwaite 66, Blackwood 38) Root, clearly unimpressed with his own bowling, brings back Stokes, who bowls a maiden too. He’s England’s leading seamer in this series, with twice as many wickets (four) as any of the specialists (Craig Overton has two). This may have been noted by a Mr S Broad and a Mr J Anderson. If you’re reading, guys, send us an email!
70th over: West Indies 169-3 (Brathwaite 66, Blackwood 38) It’s still Matthew Fisher, getting some gentle inswing, bowling fifth-stump and hoping to tempt Blackwood into an indiscretion. It doesn’t work, but that’s a maiden.
Afternoon everyone and thanks to the excellent Tanya. If this match was a village, it would be described as sleepy.
69th over: West Indies 169-3 (Brathwaite 66, Blackwood 38) Another fairly uneventful Root over – though he just wings down a bouncer off the last ball – and it is time for me to hand over to the excellent Tim de Lisle who will take you through till stumps. Thanks for all the messages, have a lovely afternoon.
68th over: West Indies 165-3 (Brathwaite 65, Blackwood 35) Five from Fisher’s over, including a couple off another punchy looking cover drive from Brathwaite and a couple more friskily past a diving gully.
67th over: West Indies 163-3 (Brathwaite 65, Blackwood 33) Root, hair held back with wax and a head band, twirls it in, but there’s nothing much there and Brathwaite and Blackwood can see this as a victory of sorts. A cover drive for four off the last ball by Blackwood is the cream on top of the milk.
66th over: West Indies 154-3 (Brathwaite 6e, Blackwood 28) There’s not much noise from the barmies in the post-lunch lull as Blackwood and Brathwaite dig in. Fisher it is, who always seems to smile at the top of his run. A couple of singles, nudged off the legs.
65th over: West Indies 154-3 (Brathwaite 62, Blackwood 27) Joe Root decides it is time for a change and brings on himself. His first ball drifts past Blackwood and Foakes whips off the bails, but with Blackwood safely strapped into his crease. A couple of untroubled singles follow.
64th over: West Indies 152-3 (Brathwaite 61, Blackwood 26) Fisher in his short shirt sleeves, returns. Brathwaite brings up the fifty partnership with a punching drive through the offside. A couple of optimistic appeals for an lbw and a caught behind, which was, nonetheless, nicely taken by Foakes on the tumble.
63rd over: West Indies 147-3 (Brathwaite 57, Blackwood 25) The notorious DIG is getting very irate as Root moves silly point back towards cover, immediately after Blackwood punches a short ball through the covers for four
62nd over: West Indies 142-3 (Brathwaite 57, Blackwood 20) Ian Bishhop is looking for a better length from Mahmood, more pitched up, and he gets it midway through the over. Meanwhile Crawley at short mid wicket gets one on the upper body as the ball bounces awkwardly.
61st over: West Indies 136-3 (Brathwaite 54, Blackwood 17) , We are given an extended panama of the Caribbean sea, all sparkling and turquoise. Just a single off Leach’s over.
60th over: West Indies 135-3 (Brathwaite 53, Blackwood 17) Mahmood continues weaving his magic, but West Indies hare picking up quick singles hither and thither. Blackwood almost cut in half after a ball edges off the bat into his tummy – if athletes have a tummy. Abdomen.
“Afternoon Tanya.” Ah, Brian Withington.
“Your plaintive query regarding the missing white age 13 football shorts had me instantly recalling those halcyon days. The youngest son was always ‘ready’ to leave for a match apart from the one or other elusive item of kit, discovered missing as we got in the car.
Fortunately these days he (now 26) only has to remember his boots and shin pads as Worcester City kindly provide and launder everything else. Having said that, he’s kindly left said boots for me to clean before he returns from 3 months Californian cricket coaching …”
Sounds like it was all worth it!
59th over: West Indies 132-3 (Brathwaite 50, Blackwood 17) Blackwood nicks Leach past Crawley at slip for four, then pounces on a short one sending it spiralling through cover for four more, despite a sprawling Bairstow’s best efforts.
58th over: West Indies 124-3 (Brathwaite 50, Blackwood 9) Another no ball for Saqib who hasn’t quite located the crease. But it’s another testing, misery over.
“Tanya…” Hello Mark Slater.
“I should think that any 13 year old pair of soccer shorts, especially if still white, should be in a gallery!”
So true! Daft colour, like white school polo shirts in primary school.
57th over: West Indies 122-3 (Brathwaite 50, Blackwood 8) With a sweep of a ball from Leach down the leg side, Brathwaite brings up his fifty, his slowest in Test cricket. A doughty captain’s effort. By contrast, his fifty at Antigua was his fastest.
56th over: West Indies 118-3 (Brathwaite 46, Blackwood 8) It’s Mahmood, yellow soles of his shoes kicking up the air. Dan Lawrence at slip sweeps his forehead and the back of his neck for sweat and applies it to the ball alongside a shirt polish – but the commentators can’t see much evidence of a shiny side on the ball. To my eye, the ball looks generally knackered. Brathwaite and Blackwood scamper three quick singles – definitely more intent between the wickets since lunch. A Mahmood no ball adds to the score.
“Do the teams eat lunch together or are they kept separate?” asks Malcolm Henderson in Panama. Malcolm, I’m not sure. They used to, I think, but everything changed with Covid.
55th over: West Indies 114-3 (Brathwaite 44, Blackwood 7) Jack Leach resumes his duties after lunch. Dot to dot – the 23rd maiden of the innings – as Stokes polishes the ball vigorously on his flanks.
A wonderful photo by Philip Brown:
A hot cross bun and a cup of tea.
David Harland is battling jet lag but is still capable of defending Chris Woakes:“Guy Hornsby’s question whether you retain Woakes if Overton is fit … I would say absolutely, he remains capable of great spells and can bowl a tight line whilst also having a batting average of 27… “
They’ll retake the field in a couple of minutes, in the meantime if anyone knows where a pair of age 13 white football shorts have disappeared to, please let me know.
A pleasing session for England as West Indies continued to struggle despite the intractability of Brathwaite. Wickets for Leach -who had his best session of the winter – and Stokes, who can consider himself lucky with the wicket of Bonner, though he would have had another had he reviewed that lbw against Blackwood. Promise a plenty from Fisher and Mahmood – who got the ball reversing before lunch. Expect to see more of him after the fish and rice. I’m going to grab a cup of tea, back in half an hour.
Apologies if the email hasn’t been working – if you’ve something to say, drop me a line at [email protected]
Lunch: West Indies 114-3 trail England by
54th over: West Indies 114-3 (Brathwaite 44, Blackwood 7) Lees comes in at short leg to mutter reverse-swing in Brathwaite’s ear. Mahmood eases to the crease, six dots and that is lunch. Root gives Fisher a hug as they walk off the pitch, and England are all smiles.
53rd over: West Indies 114-3 (Brathwaite 44, Blackwood 7) A couple of scampered singles as Stokes pitches the ball up looking for reverse swing in the penultimate over before lunch.
52nd over: West Indies 110-3 (Brathwaite 43, Blackwood 5) Leach’s long spell comes to an end as Root plumps for Mahmood just before lunch. First though, Stokes and Fisher are sent down to the boundary to push the sightscreen into position. The first ball reverses viciously and Root licks his lips. The third ducks into the boot, but outside the line. A no ball gifts West Indies a run but it is an over full of promise. Mark Butcher thinks he can see something of Waqar Younis in him – quite the compliment, but Mahmood wears his talent lightly.
51st over: West Indies 108-3 (Brathwaite 42, Blackwood 4) Just a leg bye off Stokes as he continues to pound in and test the West Indian batters, with just ten minutes left till lunch.
Some highlights from the last day at Karachi and Babar’s 196, where Pakistan batted out 172 overs to draw the second Test.
50th over: West Indies 107-3 (Brathwaite 42, Blackwood 4) Brathwaite grabs at a couple of runs through point, as Leach twirls onwards.
49th over: West Indies 105-3 (Brathwaite 40, Blackwood 4) Stokes again, tubular bandages (?) tucked under the shirt arms. He’s persisted with the longer hair he grew during lock-down. I’m a fan, it is Denis Compton-esque . Blackwood drives at a wide ball and sends it tumbling through cover to the rope. Stokes comes in for a chat, smiling wolfishly.
“The rare sent-from-the-ACTUAL-office email here (in a Parisian workplace, OBOing is an almost revolutionary act). I was a Brathwaite early adopter. He’s pulled off so many boy-on-the-burning-deck, collapse-defying innings that I’ve lost count. For about 18 months he played what amounted to one against eleven (he was particularly magnificent in Australia).
Coming in to bat against 500 disrupts the normal laws of sporting physics but if anyone can do it, Brathwaite can. Recalcitrance is where he lives. Truth or Dare is always Dare. The gauntlet is what he picks up.
I bet I hex him.”
Robert Wilson, his afternoon is in your hands.
48th over: West Indies 101-3 (Brathwaite 40, Blackwood 0) The replay shows that the Stokes LBW shout was OUT! On the field Stokes grins easily – it is easy to take the knock-backs the day after you’ve walked on water (again). Another Leach maiden – the good ship West Indies is fully becalmed. Can they score another run before lunch in half an hour?