Thursday, May 17, 2012

England v The West Indies: The Lord's Test, Day 1

There's something magical about the first Test of the international summer in England. It might be the muffled applause of the gloved hands, echoing around a three quarters full stadium. It might be the fact that champagne bottles adorn the boundary as those adorned in red and yellow stripes decide that 11 in the morning is a superb time to crack out the alcohol. It may just be that long suffering England fans are finally able to watch international cricket in their own time zone. Anyway, Test cricket's back and it's at Lord's.

Who would be England's third seamer? Well, after a comment from Mike Atherton about Strauss being "long in the tooth", it was revealed that Tim Bresnan had made the cut. Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow was to make his Test debut and was presented with his cap by close family friend, Geoffrey Boycott. For the West Indies, Ravi Rampaul had a stiff neck so it handed a Test debut to Trinidad quick (I'm just going from reports here. I didn't quite reach West Indian domestic cricket in my winter exploits) Shannon Gabriel.

Still, cricket's back, rubber ducks are back and awful puns may or may not be back. Here's day 1 from Lord's:

First things first. Despite the whitewash at the hands of Pakistan and a drawn series with Sri Lanka, England retained their number one ranking over the winter thanks to the rain of New Zealand. Strauss again had to hold the mace thing whilst grinning and being surrounded by Colin Croft, Rod Riley and David Collier. You can decide which one's which.
England win the toss (I forgot to bring a coin out) and decide to field first. Darren Sammy says he would've done the same and has gone for an all pace attack. It will be an early test of the Windies batting order.
England emerge for their first huddle of the summer. It's been a long winter and one which they will hopefully have learnt a lot from.
And so, to the first ball of the international summer. One little ball can evoke so much excitement in a group of people. Anything, as the cliche goes, could happen.

Nothing does. It's wide outside off and Adrian Barath lets it sail safely through. Test cricket's here!
Barath gets the Windies off the mark with a beautiful cover drive for 4.
Bairstow (oh yes, orange balloon treatment for him as well) and Cook go and fetch.
The Windies finally get a single and Jimmy gets a chance to bowl at the left handed Kieran Powell.  Poor Powell had been thought to be Pollard for the early overs, naturally causing Blowers a whole heap of confusion on top of his inability to identify Ian Bell. Having played and missed at the previous delivery, Jimmy gets Powell in a whole heap of trouble with a wonderful inswinger which pegs back Powell's off stump.
Powell realised too late that he couldn't leave it. England have their early breakthrough and the Lord's crowd are left wondering whether they'll see the England players padded up by the end of the day. Windies are 13-1.
Barath is looking very composed at the other end. He plays a gentle push down the ground...
Which ends up going to the boundary for 4. Mandatory reference to the fast outfield and then maybe something about a slope.
Meanwhile at the other end, Kirk Edwards finally gets off the mark on his 12th delivery. He then gets out on his 14th. He attempts to play across the line to a full Anderson delivery...
And is trapped dead in front. 
England celebrate their second wicket of the "summer" and the West Indies are 32-2.
The much written about Darren Bravo strides to the crease, mandatory "exuding an air of Brian Lara " comment. Graeme Swann is brought on for a spell before lunch, but he drops a bit short and Bravo is able to drive it square to the boundary.
Tim Bresnan is bowling from the other end and he has an enormous shout before the lunch break on Adrian Barath. He's hit on the full, but it looks to be sliding down leg, and the umpire remains unmoved. England don't review, which is reassuring considering their pretty naff use of DRS over the winter.
Bravo and Barath, who play domestic cricket together for Trinidad & Tobago, manage to survive until lunch.
Both have displayed their potential in the morning session, with Bravo hitting a lovely shot down the ground for 4 off Bresnan.
The players head off into the Lord's pavilion with the Windies undoubtedly happy with their 83-2 position. Many pundits had looked at the pitch and expected the Windies to capitulate, but the two youngsters at the crease have put on a 50 partnership.
Having asked for a review, which turned out to be a no-ball, on an LBW shout which would've been not out anyway (it's Aleem Dar!) , Broad strikes. Barath chases at a wide one and it flies to Anderson at gully...
Who manages to parry it...
Swann attempts to run across, just in case Jimmy drops it...
But Jimmy takes a good catch at the second chance. Broad picks up the breakthrough, Barath goes for 42 and the Windies are 86-3.
It brings to the crease Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is currently ranked the number 1 batsman in the world. His crablike stance (I tried) is something all too familiar to the cricket watching world and one that England will want to get rid of early.
As with many of the Test runs in the summer of 2011, Chanderpaul's first boundary of his innings goes down to the vacant third man boundary.
Some things never change.
Darren Bravo gets a life on 29 as he nicks Jimmy into the slips, only to see Swann get hit on the chest without having got a hand on the chance. Luckily for England, Chanderpaul's in a charitable mood.
He turns one round the corner to Ian Bell, but ends up ball watching. Bravo runs for the single, but sees that Chanderpaul isn't running. He has no choice but to carry on.
Chanderpaul gets his bat down before poor Bravo, meaning that if Prior can throw cleanly to Swann, it'll be him who's on his way back to the pavilion. 
Prior has different ideas. Seemingly aiming for Stuart Broad at mid on, he forces Swann to hurl himself onto the ground to stop the ball. Luckily for Prior, and England, he stops it from heading off to the boundary...
And is able to crawl, then stand up, to Darren Bravo out for 29. It's 100-4. All eyes turn to the dressing room lest window gate happen again.
To the disappointment of Matt Prior, Darren Bravo's bat placing skills aren't headline worthy. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, though, certainly is and he decided to capitalise on his correct DRS call off the bowling of Jimmy Anderson and hits Swann for 4 through the covers.
KP, having just come back onto the field having gone for a "waddle in the pond" or something, mistimes his dive with hilarious consequences and the ball goes for 4.
Chanderpaul, worryingly for England, is looking fairly well set. 
He clips it down the ground for another 4.
It's another decent position for the West Indies, as they head into tea on 146-4. England's bowling, bar James Anderson, has been disappointing. Even Jonathan Trott has bowled. Broad has looked like he's lacking rhythm and Bresnan, whilst incredibly economical, has not troubled the batsmen too much. England will be hoping for a wicket early in the evening session to try and kick start a famous Windies collapse.
Anderson continues after tea and Chanderpaul reaches another half-century.
Jimmy tries to stop the ball, but Chanderpaul's still able to go through for the single.
It's Shiv's 60th Test half-century in all and he will hope to convert it into a hundred.
He will hope to have some partners to help him reach the three figures. Marlon Samuels would not be one of them. Samuels, having been in for well over two hours, manages to go for a drive against Broad...
And ends up gifting Jonny Bairstow his first catch in Test cricket. Samuels goes for 31 and it's a vital breakthrough for England. The West Indies are 181-5.
Denesh Ramdin comes...
And goes. He leaves his bat hanging outside off and ends up nicking it straight to Strauss at first slip. He departs for 6 and it's 187-6. Is the Calypso Collapso on? 
Captain Darren Sammy (insert something about honey here) is next at the crease. Sammy's enjoys looking to score quickly and Swann offers him the chance to chance his arm.
He hits one just over the head of the substitute fielder (KP's or Ian Bell's bladders need looking at) at mid off and to the boundary for four.
Chanderpaul's still there and, perhaps aware of the batting to come, he manages to get away a rank Swann full toss to the boundary for a one bounce four.
Any attacking intent from Sammy is soon over. He gets himself all in a tangle trying to flick one into the leg side. He gets a leading edge...
And it's taken by the bucket hands of Tim Bresnan in the gully, who's just as surprised as Sammy is that the ball ended up with him. Sammy goes for 17 and it's 219-7.
Kemar Roach comes in, manages a four and then... 
Roach manages to chip one into the air and Broad runs to his left...
To take a very good catch. Roach goes for 6 and his wicket leaves the West Indies on 231-8. 
His wicket also hands Broad a 5fer. He becomes the eighth player to be on both the batting and bowling Honours Boards at Lord's. Remember how Sachin Tendulkar's not on it and Marcus North's on it for his bowling against Pakistan? Yeah. Cricket's a wonderful sport, isn't it?
Broad drops one short in his penultimate over of the day and it ends up being crashed to the boundary for 4 by Chanderpaul, who only has 2 tail-enders for company.
Despite some frankly hilarious plays and misses from Fidel Edwards, Chanderpaul decides, as he seems to enjoy doing, to take a single off the first ball of the over. It leaves Edwards with 5 balls to survive the day and means that Chanderpaul will be not out at the close. Unfortunately for him, Fidel doesn't get the memo and instead nicks one...
Where it is well snaffled by Matt Prior in front of Andrew Strauss. It had been looking to go to first slip, but Prior decided that he wanted this catch for his own and dives in front of his captain to leave the West Indies 243-9.
Fidel's wicket brings about the close of play. Broad finishes the day with 6-72. Anderson's morning spell, where, to quote Bumble in an entirely different context, he got the ball swinging more than a 70s disco, was extraordinary. Chanderpaul remains not out on 87, with only the man on debut with a first class average of 4.85 and a high score of 14 to help guide him through to a second century at Lord's.
The West Indies must surely be pleased with their position at the close. When they were put into bat, many England fans expected them to roll over and be all out for about 150. It's not the best score, especially on a pitch looking so flat, but with an all-pace attack and the weather at Lord's looking questionable tomorrow, could they cause England some trouble? It's lovely to have you back, Test cricket. It was a rough few weeks. 

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