Rain stops play
55th over: West Indies 150-7 (Da Silva 10, Joseph 17) Joseph drives Stokes towards mid-off, where Mahmood saves three runs with a tumbling stop. It has started raining, a lively shower, so the players are going off. It should blow through pretty quickly.
54th over: West Indies 148-7 (Da Silva 9, Joseph 16) “All about the red ink here!” shouts Stokes as Da Silva plays another defensive stroke off Woakes. Graham Thorpe was memorably suckered by a similar comment from Ian Healy in 1993, but there’s no sign yet of Da Silva taking the bait. He takes a single to move to 9 from 61 balls, and then Joseph pulls Woakes handsomely for six! These are very useful runs for West Indies, who are inching towards England’s total of 204.
53rd over: West Indies 141-7 (Da Silva 8, Joseph 10) Joseph drags Stokes in the air but wide of midwicket for three, and a handful of singles make it a productive over for West Indies. But Joseph is lucky to survive the last delivery, which beats his wild hack and just misses the off stump.
52nd over: West Indies 135-7 (Da Silva 6, Joseph 6) Chris Woakes returns to the attack, needing two wickets for his first five-for in an overseas Test. Alzarri Joseph, who has decent technique for a No9, works a short ball round the corner for a single.
“I’m really not sure what to think of this Test, let alone series,” says Guy Hornsby. “We have gone from two dead tracks where we got runs but couldn’t bowl the West Indies out, to a livelier one where we proceed to fall like a deck of cards, only saved by an entertainingly unlikely Jack and Saq. Now our bowlers – and the opposition’s – are doing much better, but what’s the real learnings here? It’s been great to see Mahmood and Fisher, with runs from Lawrence and Crawley finally to support Root, and defiance from Lees. But there’s still some strange captaincy and our two main strike bowlers are injured. Not to mention poor Matt Parkinson. It’s good to see us not getting humped, but perhaps I’m just too miserable these days to really see the light. What’s your thoughts?”
Nothing much to add really. England will hope that a journey of a thousand miles begins with an underwhelming series in the Caribbean, as it did in 2009. There have been some plusses, but there was never going to be a quick fix. I don’t think we should begin to pass judgement on the great reset until the end of the English summer.
51st over: West Indies 134-7 (Da Silva 6, Joseph 5) Leach replaces Mahmood for the final over before tea. Da Silva, who has been trapped LBW by Leach twice in the series, defends with the utmost care. Another maiden, and that’s the end of a good session for England: 26 overs, 63 overs and four vital wickets.
See you in 15 minutes for the evening session.
50th over: West Indies 134-7 (Da Silva 6, Joseph 5) Joseph plays a loose stroke at Stokes and is beaten. Another maiden.
“What have we learned from this?” says Robert Ellson. “Don’t pour coffee on the computer (or any liquids). But other than that? Saqib looks like a real prospect, but the rest is old news, isn’t it? Our right-arm medium bowlers look dangerous when the pitch is doing something, otherwise, not so much. Our batters look ok when the pitch is flat, but have a tendency to collapse when it’s doing something. I could go on. Meet the reset, same as the old set.”
Dan Lawrence has caught the eye, though I agree there are still doubts about him against the moving ball, especially at No4. I was surprised at how much England blew their own trumpet before this game. There have been some encouraging signs, but ultimately they’re drawing 0-0 against one of the worst teams in the world.
49th over: West Indies 134-7 (Da Silva 6, Joseph 5) Saqib Mahmood, on for Jack Leach, almost takes a wicket with his first ball when Joseph flashes just wide of slip for four. Mahmood seems to have a problem with his right leg, though he is able complete the over and will be able to have it checked during the upcoming tea break. West Indies trail by 70.
48th over: West Indies 129-7 (Da Silva 6, Joseph 1) Stokes has quietly had a good series with the ball – seven wickets at 23, with an economy rate of 1.87.
WICKET! West Indies 128-7 (Mayers c Mahmood b Stokes 28)
Ben Stokes does the needful. Mayers chips a full delivery tamely to mid-on, where Saqib Mahmood takes an easy catch. It was a useful innings from Mayers, 28 from 39 balls, and he’ll be annoyed that it ended like that.
47th over: West Indies 128-6 (Mayers 28, Da Silva 6) A maiden from Leach to the watchful Da Silva. This partnership, 33 runs and counting, is becoming irksome to England.
46th over: West Indies 128-6 (Mayers 28, Da Silva 6) Ben Stokes replaces Craig Overton, who has disappointing – nay, distressing – figures of 11-0-45-1. Mayers, pushing tentatively outside off stump, edges wide of first slip for four more. It didn’t carry and it was well wide of Root anyway.
45th over: West Indies 124-6 (Mayers 24, Da Silva 6) Earlier inthe over, Da Silva made room to back cut Leach classily for four.
“Hi Rob,” says Gary Naylor. “We’re often told that power-hitting and the reverse sweep in the white-ball game are low-risk options because players practise them so much. (This is true – insofar as we see them doing so before the matches start.) So do they not practise technique against the short ball? It seems one area of batting that is well below the standards of the past – curiously so when even club players can access a bowling machine and set it accordingly to groove muscle memory. Perhaps too many batsmen are like boxers who refuse to spar.”
Hmm, that’s a good point. I know some old players think helmets have made batters lazy when it comes to the short ball.
DA SILVA IS NOT OUT! It pitched outside leg stump, so we didn’t even see whether it straightened enough. England have one review remaining.
ENGLAND REVIEW FOR LBW AGAINST DA SILVA!
I’ll level with you, I’m not confident. Da Silva missed a vigorous sweep but I don’t think the ball straightened enough.
44th over: West Indies 120-6 (Mayers 24, Da Silva 2) This time yesterday, England were 67 for seven and in all sorts. Funny how things work out. Mayers takes a leg-bye off Overton’s first delivery, and Da Silva works a single off his last. He has 2 from 30 balls, Mayers 24 from 31.
43rd over: West Indies 118-6 (Mayers 24, Da Silva 1) Jack Leach comes into the attack for the first time. Mayers misses a big drive and then plays a more sensible push to mid-on for a single. No sign of significant turn or bounce for Leach in that over. West Indies trail by 86.
42nd over: West Indies 116-6 (Mayers 23, Da Silva 1) A short ball from Overton is heaved through mid-off for four by Mayers, a remarkable shot that impresses the bowler not one jot. The next delivery is a sharper, straight bumper that forces Mayers to snap his head out of the way. Overton gives him a stare; Mayers smiles. And he has the final word, at least for this over, with a stylish, wristy flick through midwicket for four more.
“Rob,” says John Starbuck. “Isn’t using a reverse batting order what happens in a village or other small club match, when both sides have already cocked it up with too much time left? It gives the bowlers a chance to show what they can do without fear or favour and the batters some time to put their feet up. In some cases, they spend a lot more on beer and other comestibles, improving the enjoyment.”
I guess so, though it did also happen on sticky wickets back in the day. Don Bradman famously did it in 1936-37.
41st over: West Indies 108-6 (Mayers 15, Da Silva 1) Mahmood misses a chance to run out Da Silva off his own bowling. It was a dodgy call from Mayers, and Da Silva would have been out with a direct hit. That’s the only run from the over. Mayers has 15 from 21 balls, a strokeless Da Silva 1 from 22.
“Evening Rob, evening everyone,” says Darrien Bold. “Mahmood’s dig yesterday reminded me of Andy Caddick’s knock of 49 against the Aussies in 2001. What a bizarre side that was! Afzaal at 7. Butch as the fifth bowler. Ian Ward! I could go on…”
That game was such a miserable reacquaintance with reality. In England’s defence, they had a very settled XI in mind for the series, and then half of them got injured. Had they been fit I’m sure Vaughan, Thorpe and Cork would have played. And we’d still have been thrashed. In fact that whole weekend was pretty desperate – the Lions lost in Australia, Tim Henman was beaten in the Wimbledon semi-final and I fell asleep before Radiohead came on at South Park.
40th over: West Indies 107-6 (Mayers 14, Da Silva 1) Overton returns in place of Woakes and starts hammering just back of a length. Nothing much happens, and on we go.
39th over: West Indies 106-6 (Mayers 13, Da Silva 1) The impressive Mahmood continues to harass the stumps. There’s a soupcon of reverse swing which, along with the uneven bounce, makes him very dangerous. Another probing maiden to Da Silva, including an edge on the bounce to gully, gives Mahmood figures of 11-7-18-1.
“Hiya, long time lurker here, it’s my first time emailing you,” says Stephen Nichols. “If this was the 1930s, in the second innings we’d open with Leach and Lees, with Woakes at No3, to soak up the first tricky 30 overs, then have numbers 2-7 batting. Is there any possibility Root is thinking the same as me?”
I suspect there is approximately 0.00 per cent chance he is thinking the same, though I love the idea. Test captains aren’t funky enough with their batting order. Quite why England didn’t troll the Aussies in 2013-14 by opening the batting with Stuart Broad at Brisbane I’ll never know.
38th over: West Indies 106-6 (Mayers 13, Da Silva 1) Mayers fiddles Woakes through the slips for four to take West Indies into three figures, then ducks under a short ball that goes through to Foakes on the second bounce. The next ball sits up nicely, outside off stump, and Mayers dumps a swaggering pull over midwicket for six. Shot!
Thanks Niall, evening everyone. After groundhog draws in Antigua and Barbados, this game is progressing at a more agreeable pace. We’ve had 16 wickets in a day and a half, and batting is unlikely to get much easier.
37th over: West Indies 96-6 (Mayers 3, Da Silva 1) Chris Woakes has figures of 3-22, and England are pushing for a decent first-innings lead. The Windies middle order have helped, yet to find anything close to a settled partnership after starting 50-0. Mahmood offers another over of scudding menace, aiming square at the stumps. Maiden.
Time to hand over to the one and only Rob Smyth, who will guide you through the rest of the day’s play.
WICKET! Blackwood lbw b Woakes 18 (West Indies 95-6)
Woakes bowls straight and true, smack on to Blackwood’s pad – it was rising sharply, but its given! The hosts review, DRS has it clipping the top of leg – umpire’s call.
A couple of let-offs there for Blackwood – and with every seam bowler taking a wicket today, how refreshing to revisit England’s problems in the field.
Woakes continues, Blackwood squeaking a nervous edge all the way through for four – but every ball feels dangerous just now …
35th over: West Indies 90-5 (Mayers 2, Blackwood 14) England’s tails are up, and Mahmood so nearly shifts Blackwood first-ball, clipped to within inches of the diving fielder at midwicket. And now a drop from Foakes! Blackwood edges through but the diving wicketkeeper lets it slip through his fingers. Not a complete gimme, but he’ll be disappointed.
34th over: West Indies 86-5 (Mayers 2, Blackwood 10) Mayers gets away with one here – trying to play through the off-side, an ugly inside edge just misses the stumps. Otherwise, just a wide in another solid Woakes over. Time for Mahmood …
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