West Indies just 170 runs behind, England under pressure despite Crawley defiance

By Sports Desk July 11, 2020

England suffered a late collapse in Southampton to close day four on 284-8 – giving them a lead of 170 over West Indies – to leave the first Test delicately poised. 

Having erased a first-innings deficit of 114, the hosts appeared to be gaining the upper hand as they reached 249-3, Zak Crawley combining with stand-in captain Ben Stokes to put on a partnership of 98 for the fourth wicket.

The pair built on the good work done by openers Dom Sibley (50) and Rory Burns (42) but West Indies fought back impressively in the final session, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph each taking two of the five wickets to go down.

Stokes (46), however, fell for a second time in the match to opposite number Jason Holder when seemingly going well, steering the West Indies skipper to one of two catchers positioned in the gully region.

As for Crawley, the right-hander's impressive innings came to an end on 76 when he chipped a return catch back to Joseph, who then followed up by bowling Jos Buttler for nine.

Gabriel produced a fine spell in fading light to bowl both Dom Bess and Ollie Pope, the latter via an inside edge, and though England avoided being dismissed prior to stumps, they had undoubtedly let slip a glorious opportunity after battling so hard to forge their way in front.

Burns and Sibley continued on from the overnight total of 15 without loss in the early stages of Saturday's play, pushing their opening stand on to 72.

Spinner Roston Chase finally claimed the initial breakthrough for West Indies, aided by Burns hitting a long hop to point, while he also tempted Joe Denly to chip a simple catch to mid-wicket. Having reached 29, England's number three once again failed to capitalise on a promising start. 

Sibley did carry on to register his first half-century on home soil in Tests, though departed soon after reaching the landmark. 

Reprieved when bowled off a no ball earlier in the same over, he was caught down leg by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich off the bowling of Gabriel, whose closing burst saw him finish with figures of 3-62.


WINDIES ON TOP BUT WORK STILL TO DO

West Indies will be pleased by the way they hit back with the ball after tea, though a wearing Rose Bowl pitch showing signs of uneven bounce means a fourth-innings chase is by no means straightforward. Still, considering how well England were going with Crawley and Stokes together, the tourists should now be considered favourites.
 

ROOT'S RETURN CREATES SELECTION ISSUE

With Joe Root set to come back into the XI for the second Test, one of England's batting line-up will have to make way for the returning skipper. It seems a straight fight between Denly and Crawley, with the latter surely now ahead on points after making his highest score in the format.


MOMENT OF THE DAY – GABRIEL GETS HIS MAN... AGAIN

Sibley appeared to have perished straight after reaching 50, bowled off an inside edge. A tight no-ball call initially offered him a second chance, yet the opening batsman failed to capitalise, lasting only two further deliveries before he was dismissed by the same bowler. 

Related items

  • Shepherd confident Guyana can end winless curse in 'different' CPL Shepherd confident Guyana can end winless curse in 'different' CPL

    Guyana Amazon Warriors pace bowler Romario Shepherd is quietly confident that this can be the year the team snaps its Caribbean Premier League (CPL) drought, despite the unusual circumstances surrounding the competition.

    Due to issues of safety stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the entire tournament will be staged in Trinidad and Tobago, with enhanced bio security across two venues.  The teams will begin departing for the twin island republic on Monday, ahead of the tournament’s commencement on the August 8th.

    “I am really looking forward to performing and helping us win the tournament this time. It’s long overdue, so this year is our year. Everything is different, so the results will be different this year,” Shepherd told the Guyana Times.

    The player believes the task will be made complex by the fact that the majority of players have not been able to play competitive cricket due to the onset of the pandemic

    ““Being in a pandemic for the first time, I am a bit nervous and tentative going into the tournament. (For) a big tournament like this, you need match practice, and this season will be one of the toughest seasons, not just for me, but for everyone playing in the tournament,” Shepherd said.

    “Just the guys coming back from England would have been active, but for the players in the Caribbean, it would be really tough. (There has been) no match practice, and you have to click from the beginning.”

    Last season Shepherd claimed 13 wickets in an outstanding season for the Warriors who did not lose until the final.  Despite making it to the final five times the Guyana franchise remains without a title.

     

     

  • 'He needed to rough batsmen up' - Windies legend Ambrose disappointed with Joseph 'He needed to rough batsmen up' - Windies legend Ambrose disappointed with Joseph

    West Indies legend Sir Curtly Ambrose has admitted to some level of disappointment with the performance of young fast bowler Alzarri Joseph in the recently concluded series loss to England.

    The 23-year-old was tipped for a breakthrough performance ahead of the England series, but that promised failed to materialise.  Joseph had several bright spells of bowling when the teams met in the Caribbean last year, but in the rematch on English soil, these were few and far between.

    Joseph claimed figures of 2 for 98 in the first Test, before getting 1 for 84 in the second Test.  He was replaced in the final Test by off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall.

    Ambrose, himself once one of the world’s premier fast bowlers, believes the young West Indian may have been guilty of being too passive.

    “I was a little bit disappointed with the performance of Alzarri Joseph.  The pitches they played on, obviously, they were not the quickest, but as a fast bowler, you can’t be telling yourself that boy, it’s a slow pitch so I am just going to amble in and put it on a spot, no.  Whether a pitch is fast or slow, you as a fast bowler have to put out your best, and Alzarri, to me, he was bowling within himself and not looking to bowl fast,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

    “Alzarri Joseph is not a put-on-a-spot, hold-up-one-end type of bowler.  Jason Holder, the captain, can do that.  He can’t really bowl fast, but he can come at one end and put it on a spot and swing it around, seam it around and get a couple of wickets, but Alzarri is a guy who has to run in and bowl fast, look to rough up batsmen.  He will look to get wickets obviously, but rough batsmen up and let them know that ‘I am here’.”

     

     

  • 'Mental exhaustion' no excuse Windies 'Mental exhaustion' no excuse Windies

     On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

      

    Mental exhaustion or not enough effort on the field?

      England beat the West Indies by 269 runs and took the series 2-1 to reclaim the Wisden Trophy forever. Windies captain Jason Holder, speaking at the end of the third Test, said, “It’s been challenging, it’s been really challenging, mentally some of the guys are a bit worn out.”

    Though I agree it is difficult to play any sport during a pandemic and acknowledge the upheaval, surrounding social injustice issues, taking place, to simply attribute the Windies poor result to these issues is unacceptable. I agree the current climate is different than what anyone has ever experienced before but the Windies loss was brought about by a lack of team effort on the field.

    Holder went on to say, “It could be this way for a little while, so we’ve got to find ways to make it work. Hopefully, things could ease up throughout the world and probably guys can get out of the hotel a little bit more, but it has been challenging for sure.”

     Each match was played behind closed doors with players unable to feed off the crowd’s energy.  While I agree that the conditions in which they played were not ideal, as professional athletes they knew the job at hand was to retain the Wisden trophy and play smart cricket. 

    The Windies made a great start to their tour with a win, at the Rose Bowl, but England found form in Manchester. The shortcomings of the Windies batsmen in English conditions were exposed numerous times. They conceded first-innings leads of 182 in the second test and 172 in the series decider. The most discouraging factor was the batsmen's inability to capitalize on the numerous starts that they got as a few of the batsmen did make half-centuries. The key difference between both squads was when England got opportunities, they went big, for example, Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley.

    England’s bowlers were fresh and eager throughout and that ensured their dominance of the series. A key factor in England’s success was the class of bowlers that were available to choose from as well as the effective rotation of those bowlers. It was useful that none of England’s bowlers bowled in more than two matches – not even Ben Stokes and Dom Bess, who played every game but were not required to bowl.  In the case of the Windies, our bowlers were overworked and two of our key bowlers most notably, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, were struggling with niggles.

    Though the mental strain of being away from their families and playing the game during the pandemic may have affected the Windies players’ performance, I don’t believe is it the main reason they lost the series.

     

    Arsenal has aced the recipe for FA Cup success

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is hoping the FA Cup victory on Saturday will convince captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to stay at the club after they beat Chelsea 2-1. The Gunners captain scored twice to seal the win, taking his team to a 14th FA Cup success. Aubameyang has less than a year left on his contract and his future at the club has been a topic of discussion.

    On Saturday, when Aubameyang dropped the trophy before raising it above his head, Arteta joked, “He needs more experience with trophies, we can get him more used to that.” Chelsea’s manager Frank Lampard also commended Aubameyang on his match-winning performance. The North Londoners have now landed a spot in UEFA’s second-tier competition next season. 

    This triumph has rectified some of the problems Arsenal had this season, especially after finishing 8th in the Premier League.

     

     The TKR captaincy fits Polly

    Kieron Pollard will continue to lead the Trinbago Knight Riders for CPL 2020. Last year, Pollard replaced Dwayne Bravo as captain after he was ruled out with a finger injury.  The decision was a beneficial one and a team with a fit Bravo and Pollard can yield success.

    Bravo, who led the team to three CPL titles previously, expressed to the owner that he would rather focus on his game, while Pollard leads the team. I think it is a perfect fit for the team as Pollard and Bravo are great friends and a healthy Bravo with Pollard at the helm puts TKR in a position to win another CPL title.

    Pollard has scored 1759 runs in 70 matches, at a strike rate of 148.56. He is the 6th highest run-scorer in the history of the tournament. With the ball, Bravo is the leading wicket-taker with 97 scalps in 69 games. Together both players can use their individual achievements and personalities to get the best of the unit as they seek a 4th CPL title.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.