February 8, 2009

England in West Indies 2008-09

Where on earth does this humiliation leave England?

George Binoy
Kevin Pietersen is bowled neck-and-crop, West Indies v England, 1st Test, Kingston, February 7, 2009
 © AFP
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Jerome Taylor's breathtaking bowling display revived memories of old West Indies glory, writes Mike Selvey in the Observer.

Taylor pitched full, not quite a yorker but up there, allowing the ball time to grab the air and swing away. But it went too late for Pietersen, deceiving even his gimlet eye. Pietersen saw only a leg-side scoring opportunity, but the ball swerved beyond his bat. Then, as Pietersen's body obliterated the wicket from view, we, perched in the press box eyrie high up in the massive Blue Mountain Stand, saw his off stump appear from behind his back and cartwheel gymnastically back towards the keeper. For a split second, before the implication had taken hold, there was silence in the crowd. Then, as the realisation set in and Taylor began his celebratory sprint towards the Red Stripe stand pursued by a phalanx of team-mates, a cacophony erupted.

Where on earth does this humiliation leave England? asks Lawrence Booth in the Guardian.

It's been fashionable of late to play down the problems in the England dressing room, mainly because it's a far easier thing to do than accept the serious issues that have already split the team. Fine. Bury your heads in the sand if you like. But many of us are still waiting for evidence that this England side is in any way a united one. When everything that can go wrong does go wrong, as it did today in Jamaica, you have to ask serious questions about the collective state of mind.
Andrew Strauss described his dressing room as being a “pretty disconsolate place”. You can bet it was a lot worse than that. It will have been a place of devastation and embarrassment, writes Steve James in the Sunday Telegraph.

In the pantheon of great overseas disasters, this one actually ranks fairly low down. Or at least it would if it wasn’t for the fact that this trip was supposed to be little more than a gentle workout for the Ashes against a supposedly flaky West Indian team, writes Martin Johnson in the Sunday Times.

For comedy, albeit black comedy, we had to look in the unlikely direction of Paul Collingwood. Another venomous Taylor delivery took the inside edge of Collingwood's bat before speeding off towards the fine-leg boundary. Collingwood sped off eagerly but when he turned for a second he was greeted by the spectacle of the West Indies side indulging in another mass celebration. Unbeknown to Collingwood the ball had brushed the leg-stump on its way to the boundary, writes Vic Marks in the Observer.

The responsibility of captaincy obviously sits well on his [Chris Gayle’s] shoulders, while mind and body both seem to be in very good shape. There were, of course, moments of pure Gayle, his second-over six off Flintoff a sublime instance of a shot that comes from nowhere — proof that his innate instincts are working beautifully, writes David Gower in the Sunday Times.

The history of Test cricket at Sabina Park is replete with devastation wreaked by lethal fast bowlers. Jerome Taylor's sensational 5 for 12 from nine overs in the searing heat yesterday that led to the disintegration of England's second innings for 51 all out and defeat by an innings and 23 runs placed him in the company of Manny Martindale, Wes Hall, John Snow and Steve Harmison, writes Tony Cozier in the Trinidad Express.

Never believe those reports that said cricket in the Caribbean was dying. It was just in mourning for the passing of the good days. The people still loved the game, nursed their hurt, and waited for fortunes to change. The whoops and hollers from the stands showed that the passion was still there, writes Simon Wilde in the Sunday Times.

As far as sudden and unexpected humiliations go, this one ranks right up there with the best, says Jonathan Agnew on the BBC website. He feels Ian Bell needs to be dropped to indicate that the "established batsmen's places are not fireproof".

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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