England in West Indies, 2008-09 March 4, 2009

Barbados. Please, make it stop

And now, for what they are worth in the current context of international cricket, which is slightly less than nothing, here are some thoughts on the now-mercifully-finished Barbados Test.
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And now, for what they are worth in the current context of international cricket, which is slightly less than nothing, here are some thoughts on the now-mercifully-finished Barbados Test.

This was one of the worst cricket matches imaginable, played out on a truly dreadful pitch, of almost nil sporting interest. An alien or American billionaire, or indeed any other fictional character, had chanced upon this travesty of a game, he, she or it would have assumed: either that cricket is an arcane and impenetrable religious ritual designed to reflect the interminable tedium of life and thus assuage the stroppiness of an unusually cantankerous dullness-loving deity; or that this match was a meaningless and complete waste of everyone’s time (except for a few stressed parents who used it to pacify over-sugared children). In either case, cricket would have been safely preserved for us humble earthlings.

This Test was an embarrassment to cricket. There was no punishment for batting error, no reward for good bowling. They could have played until Matt Prior’s second child is born and it would still probably have been a draw.

The dismal pitch was not merely batsman-friendly, it was knocking on the batsman’s hotel room door at midnight brandishing a bottle of champagne and wearing a negligee. Only Shah, Gayle and Hinds were gentlemen enough to politely spurn its advances. Good on them. If the wicket had been loaded any more decisively against the bowlers, the groundstaff would have found themselves in The Hague facing human rights abuse charges, with a tearful Ryan Sidebottom and Daren Powell consoling each other in the witness box. The Americans did not need to resort to waterboarding – if they have made their Guantanamo ‘guests’ bowl on this pitch, they would have confessed to absolutely anything by the time the third new ball was due.

With hindsight, it was fortunate that the inane and inept referral system distracted so much attention from the anti-cricket on display. Perhaps Daryl Harper and his on-field confreres were merely trying to inject some talking-points into the morass of futility before them.

It was the latest in a thoroughly uninspiring glut of run-gluts. During the Barbados game, I started to have vivid recurring dreams about watching a Test match in which both teams are bowled out for under 200 in the first innings on a green-tinged wicket, with momentum swinging wildly one way then the other, in which fast bowlers are restored to a greater role than the ceremonial propulsion of an unresponsive conker onto the middle of a lavishly advertised bat, and in which a half-century requires a display of skill, nerve and courage by a batsman – before waking up to be confronted with the grim reality of Kevin Pietersen blocking half-volleys from Ryan Hinds.

So what did this game prove? That West Indies are tougher than they were, or at least that Sarwan is; that Ramdin can score runs on a dead pitch against exhausted bowlers; that Bopara isn’t useless; that no parent in their right mind should allow their child to take up fast bowling; and that Cook is less vulnerable to the moving ball outside off stump when the ball doesn’t move outside off stump.

Cook is a curious player. He appears both unusually talented and extremely limited, and both mentally strong and psychologically suspect. He is without question bizarrely awkward for a man who has reached 3000 Test runs at a prodigious age – when batting, he generally looks as if he has borrowed someone else’s limbs. He could smash a run-a-ball hundred and still appear to be out of form. In this series, he has succeeded on the deader pitches, but failed on the more difficult one – so what more have England learnt about him? He is clearly a useful Test batsman, but will he prove to be much more than that against stronger opposition (eg. Australia) on trickier surfaces (eg. in England)?

England unquestionably picked the wrong XI for this game – trying to bowl any side out twice on this pitch with three decent fast-medium bowlers and a decent finger spinner revealed optimism levels bordering on the delusional. That said, they could have brought Larwood, Statham, Trueman, Laker and SF Barnes back to life and they would still have struggled to bowl West Indies out. They might have restricted them to around 550, but it is more likely that the late, great quintet would have taken one look at the surface, feigned some thigh strains, and taken the first rocket back to the comfort of the ethereal pavilion in the sky.

Please let the Trinidad Test be a proper one. Like the one in Johannesburg. I am starting to wish that the 2009 Ashes had been played in November and December of 2008. The conditions in England wouldn’t have been ideal for cricket, but Australia are starting to look alarmingly potent.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • doc bosco on March 11, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    It is correct to bemoan the plethora of negligee-waving, batting-friendly pitches (Lord’s, as with all things, leading the way). This, combined with the perpetual pursuit of persistently penetrating bowling, has led in recent years to matches with more records than results. On the other hand, don’t pick on the West Indies. This isn’t the first time that pitches were prepared to favour the home team, and not the last time that rules will be proposed specifically to address England’s woes.

    If the pitch at Port-of-Spain were so batsmen friendly, as often claimed, how did England manage to score only 250 runs on the first day of a match they knew they needed to win? If the pitches in this series were so batting-friendly, how then did England so nearly manage to bowl out the West Indies on the two occasions in which the bowlers really tried? As with many things, victory in this series fell to the side that sought it harder.

  • captainfun on March 11, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    fun article, but don't blame the pitch... if sa and aus were flown over, you can bet they would have put on a good show... the problem with this test was 2 very average teams trying to be less average than the other....

  • Divya Narayan on March 10, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Why is everybody criticising Andy for this article? People, have you lost your sense of humour? 300+ runs were scored on each day of the test match (except for the final day, that too, because only 81 overs were bowled. Despite that, England scored 281). Scoring virtually 300 on the final day of a test match, no matter who you're playing against, doesn't it seem weird?

  • Robomas on March 6, 2009, 17:21 GMT

    16 wickets in a whole match doesn't realy indicate a compelling contest does it. Anybody who disagrees with this notion is nuts in my humble opinion. Most of us our cricket fans on this forum and this would take prominence over national partisanship, and i dare say tht many of the english contingent would force a smile if West Indies began a great revival with a series victory next week.

    Its not only Barbados, Lords has to be relaid as well surely- 6 consecutive draws and 3 2nd innings over 500 if im right?? yawwwn! Test cricket will never be replaced in my affections but these pitches are just providing easy ammo for the game's detractors who claim blindly that the game is boring. And we don't need to degrade tests to twenty20 format or over restrictions to engineer entertainment, the pitch is a pre-requisite for an enthralling test match (i would suggest even over player quality-though tht obviously helps!) Love these articles they brighten up my study marathons. Thanks v much Andy!

  • Mukesh on March 5, 2009, 18:07 GMT

    I disagree with Andy who posted this piece. He needs to bear inmind that had the West Indies taken their chances in the field, the outcome of the match may have been different. It's also of worth to note that when England amassed 600 runs, there were no complaints about the pitch since the West Indies were expected to be under significant "scoreboard pressure". Negative comments about the pitch and the match only surfaced after the West Indies batted superbly even in the face of glaring umpiring errors. The English team and their supporters including those in the commentary booth and writing on cricinfo need to put away the Tetley and realise that the West Indies are no longer easy push overs.

  • Rod Stark on March 5, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    I'm not sure whether you can completely blame the pitch. The bowling attacks of both teams and the West Indies' fielding were pretty mediocre. I think that reflects the state of world cricket right now. Other than Murali, how many current bowlers on any team are likely to end up being considered among the great players?

  • Sri on March 5, 2009, 17:39 GMT

    Still trying to get the image of a negligee clad bottle brandishing pitch out of my head. The match could have made more interesting by Chris Gayle if he had declared with a token 1 run lead after the first innings. Given the extra time and a result chasing English team, it would have probably resulted in a challenging declaration by Strauss, or a curious case of harakiri by the English batsmen, who are now used to this practice. A majority of the blame for listless draws would have to be assigned to the captains. Of course, being one up in the series, Chris Gayle chose a safe option, while killing us all softly with boredom.

  • Deo on March 5, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    This article is great.. very interesting and funny. Well done Andy. Give each team a maximum of 180 overs and let them decide how many overs they will use for each innings. This was most test match will have a winner. Batting for as long as you wish is not very fun from a fan point of view.

  • mikeram on March 5, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    Your article is quite humorous and interesting by youe choice of word but for every 10 test match played you have at least 10 is prepared so that they are bowler friendly and one for the batsmen so lets celebrate finally for our west indian batsmen to show some poise and concentration finally it seems to be clicking for them. And by the way if the west indian fielders held on to the catches in this particular test we might have had a result so i didnot find it boring at all but entertaining. The game has changed so i think most people want wickets that produce results and most of them do .but once in a while we should celebrate the positive of good entertaining batting.

  • John on March 5, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    May I add to Ankur's list:

    a. Batsmen to play wearing roller skates b. Bowlers to wear spikes. c. All fielders to wear "grim reaper" costumes. d. There will be 6 wickets instead of 3 on each side. e. The pitch will be matted. f. Vaseline is available for use to the bowlers.

  • doc bosco on March 11, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    It is correct to bemoan the plethora of negligee-waving, batting-friendly pitches (Lord’s, as with all things, leading the way). This, combined with the perpetual pursuit of persistently penetrating bowling, has led in recent years to matches with more records than results. On the other hand, don’t pick on the West Indies. This isn’t the first time that pitches were prepared to favour the home team, and not the last time that rules will be proposed specifically to address England’s woes.

    If the pitch at Port-of-Spain were so batsmen friendly, as often claimed, how did England manage to score only 250 runs on the first day of a match they knew they needed to win? If the pitches in this series were so batting-friendly, how then did England so nearly manage to bowl out the West Indies on the two occasions in which the bowlers really tried? As with many things, victory in this series fell to the side that sought it harder.

  • captainfun on March 11, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    fun article, but don't blame the pitch... if sa and aus were flown over, you can bet they would have put on a good show... the problem with this test was 2 very average teams trying to be less average than the other....

  • Divya Narayan on March 10, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Why is everybody criticising Andy for this article? People, have you lost your sense of humour? 300+ runs were scored on each day of the test match (except for the final day, that too, because only 81 overs were bowled. Despite that, England scored 281). Scoring virtually 300 on the final day of a test match, no matter who you're playing against, doesn't it seem weird?

  • Robomas on March 6, 2009, 17:21 GMT

    16 wickets in a whole match doesn't realy indicate a compelling contest does it. Anybody who disagrees with this notion is nuts in my humble opinion. Most of us our cricket fans on this forum and this would take prominence over national partisanship, and i dare say tht many of the english contingent would force a smile if West Indies began a great revival with a series victory next week.

    Its not only Barbados, Lords has to be relaid as well surely- 6 consecutive draws and 3 2nd innings over 500 if im right?? yawwwn! Test cricket will never be replaced in my affections but these pitches are just providing easy ammo for the game's detractors who claim blindly that the game is boring. And we don't need to degrade tests to twenty20 format or over restrictions to engineer entertainment, the pitch is a pre-requisite for an enthralling test match (i would suggest even over player quality-though tht obviously helps!) Love these articles they brighten up my study marathons. Thanks v much Andy!

  • Mukesh on March 5, 2009, 18:07 GMT

    I disagree with Andy who posted this piece. He needs to bear inmind that had the West Indies taken their chances in the field, the outcome of the match may have been different. It's also of worth to note that when England amassed 600 runs, there were no complaints about the pitch since the West Indies were expected to be under significant "scoreboard pressure". Negative comments about the pitch and the match only surfaced after the West Indies batted superbly even in the face of glaring umpiring errors. The English team and their supporters including those in the commentary booth and writing on cricinfo need to put away the Tetley and realise that the West Indies are no longer easy push overs.

  • Rod Stark on March 5, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    I'm not sure whether you can completely blame the pitch. The bowling attacks of both teams and the West Indies' fielding were pretty mediocre. I think that reflects the state of world cricket right now. Other than Murali, how many current bowlers on any team are likely to end up being considered among the great players?

  • Sri on March 5, 2009, 17:39 GMT

    Still trying to get the image of a negligee clad bottle brandishing pitch out of my head. The match could have made more interesting by Chris Gayle if he had declared with a token 1 run lead after the first innings. Given the extra time and a result chasing English team, it would have probably resulted in a challenging declaration by Strauss, or a curious case of harakiri by the English batsmen, who are now used to this practice. A majority of the blame for listless draws would have to be assigned to the captains. Of course, being one up in the series, Chris Gayle chose a safe option, while killing us all softly with boredom.

  • Deo on March 5, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    This article is great.. very interesting and funny. Well done Andy. Give each team a maximum of 180 overs and let them decide how many overs they will use for each innings. This was most test match will have a winner. Batting for as long as you wish is not very fun from a fan point of view.

  • mikeram on March 5, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    Your article is quite humorous and interesting by youe choice of word but for every 10 test match played you have at least 10 is prepared so that they are bowler friendly and one for the batsmen so lets celebrate finally for our west indian batsmen to show some poise and concentration finally it seems to be clicking for them. And by the way if the west indian fielders held on to the catches in this particular test we might have had a result so i didnot find it boring at all but entertaining. The game has changed so i think most people want wickets that produce results and most of them do .but once in a while we should celebrate the positive of good entertaining batting.

  • John on March 5, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    May I add to Ankur's list:

    a. Batsmen to play wearing roller skates b. Bowlers to wear spikes. c. All fielders to wear "grim reaper" costumes. d. There will be 6 wickets instead of 3 on each side. e. The pitch will be matted. f. Vaseline is available for use to the bowlers.

  • WIdave on March 5, 2009, 16:54 GMT

    What a rubbish article. Test cricket is meant to be played in all conditions and on all pitches- including the dead, low, dusty pitches of the asian sub-continent. Had England won in Antigua- how would that pitch have been judged? Had WI held their catches in Barbados and won, how would that pitch be judged? England, stop making excuses and get on with the game! Ashes? - Who is the writer and England kidding???

  • Dhasy on March 5, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    Surely anyone watching this game shoulf appreciate that catches win matches. The only english player not given a chnace was Shah. How many did he make? If the WI players had taken thier catches England would hvae been up aginst it.

  • Bo the Yank on March 5, 2009, 16:24 GMT

    I like the sledging angle. How do we award a batsman for a sledging comeback that puts the sledger to shame - a number of runs or perhaps removing the bowler for a long spell? I recall a story of Glenn McGrath asking Sarwan (?) what it was like to have a certain type of relationship with Brian Lara. If that had been me, I would have yelled up to the dressing room and asked Brian if he needed a date tonight, because Glenn was interested and seemed like a sure thing. ;-)

  • Mijan on March 5, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Way to go Sean!!

    As long as players are not at risk, WI can make any pitch they wish. That is the home court advantage. If England, Andy and others don't like too bad!! WI series win will do a world of good for them. I see no problem with any of the pitches the game has been played so far.

  • mgs on March 5, 2009, 15:17 GMT

    Almost nil sporting interest? I beg to differ. Erasing a 600-run lead and Sarwan teasing a triple century are certainly of sporting interest. Methinks the writer is as frustrated as England is of blowing back-to-back 600-run leads and guaranteed they can't win this series. West Indies have shown a lot of resilience from their blistering attack in Game 1 to their ability to fight to the draw in two games that seemed out of their reach. Well, it is English cricket so let the complaining, whining and excuses begin. Face it, they totally underestimated the West Indies just as they did during the 20/20 for 20 game last year.

  • Vivek on March 5, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    Whatever it may be, WI wont lose the series. As a WI fan, i have been longing for such results for years. :(

  • Gazzypops on March 5, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    Cor. How come this has turned into an England-bashing fest? I thought Andy's article made sense and some of the suggestions above for gaining bat-and-ball parity should be adopted by the ICC immediately. But the comments saying 'if England had won' are stupid simply because it didn't happen. You can’t accuse us of something that didn’t happen! England were dreadful at Sabina Park. Couldn’t even get a record low score! The Windies were brilliant and many reports I saw said as much and shook their heads at our own incompetence. Likewise, Chennai. Inept England and brilliant India/Tendulkar in the reports I read. This pitch, like so many others, was a travesty because no bowler had any real chance. So dull high scores all round (you rarely get dull, low-scoring games, do you?). Once more, no Englishman batter made a really big score on it. Which is why, every 20 overs, I think there should be an over of French Cricket with all the close fielders joining in. We might be good at that.

  • Hassan on March 5, 2009, 9:41 GMT

    Rashid must be played in this match. England should have played two spinners in every game. His leg spin will take wickets as well as relieve some pressure off Swann. I would also select amjad khan in place of sidebottom. He is a wicket taker, someone who england need without flintoff.

    I also have to say that the pitch was appaling. if the opposite happened and wickets tumbled in quick succession, the ICC will launch an enquiry. So if both teams score 600 odd in their first innings, it is hard to see why no action is being undertaken.

  • murray robertson on March 5, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    Sounds like the England Selectors are going to mess up again! In Barbados, no an obviously 'no result' pitch they chose three medium pace bowlers, who could get nowhere, instead of another spinner - Adil Rashid would at the very least have gained useful experience. Now Andy Flower says that Steve Harmison will not get selected no a Pitch & ground that will suit him, as it did in the last series here, for the best chance that Steve will get to reinvigorate him despite his unhappiness away from home and without his partner F Flintoff. Perhaps the Selectors would have preferred to take Pattison on tour?

  • Divya Narayan on March 5, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    "Cricket is an arcane and impenetrable religious ritual designed to reflect the interminable tedium of life and thus assuage the stroppiness of an unusually cantankerous dullness-loving deity". I read that sentence and I thought,"What the hell does that mean??". By the way, "It was knocking on the batsman’s hotel room door at midnight brandishing a bottle of champagne and wearing a negligee" sounds too tempting to be true, for any batsman!!

  • Sean on March 5, 2009, 5:30 GMT

    Oh please,all of a sudden everyone is calling for a pitch that would help the bowlers but let's not forget the pitch at Sabina Park was a good pitch for batting and bowling and England were routed for 51.To me England should thank the flat pitches for avoiding them further embarassment.Just think they were using the West Indies to warm up for ashes.How would they fear against better bowling attacks.

  • don talon on March 5, 2009, 5:16 GMT

    This article is way off mark. The wicket was a good one in terms of pace generated by the one really fast bowler: Fidel Edwards,who bowled regularly above 92 mph and ruffled the batsmen. England made 600 because WI dropped crucial chances and their two best players made Tons, both men averaging over 40 in tests like all of the English batsmen do. WI made 749 because Sarwan ,after scores of 104,94 and 107 made 291,Chanderpaul after an av of 100+ over the previous 24 months made 70 and Ramdin who always looks like a test batsman made 166. This writer expects balls to be whistling past the batsmans' nose from Sidebottom diliveries and chris Broad and it's not going to happen and if he thinks this poppy cock English attack will beat the Australian he's in for a rude awakening.

    England were caught off guard in Jamaica by the quality of the WI's cricket and they still haven't regrouped simply because they expected WI to be a push over and they have no plan B.

  • Jay on March 5, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    Bring on the champion Aussie sledgers, Hayden, Waugh, Ponting,Clarke at al and hound the batsmen out with of-course some "deft' glovework by Haddin.

  • Adam Farmer on March 5, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    If I recall correctly England probably would not have passed 450 if WI had taken advantage of their chances in the first innings and the game would have had a different complection.....I agree the pitch was dead, but there could have been a result had WI taken their chances and put the "scoreboard pressure" (as Strauss call it) on England.

  • Montrose Matthews on March 5, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Although I wanted to see a result from the game in Barbados I am disappointed with the way the English writers see the West Indies when it comes to their team being behind. There will always be something wrong as long as things do not go their way. I do not see them picking on any of the Asian teams when test matches produce lots of runs on wickets that are worst than that at Kensington Oval. There is always a problem when it comes to the West Indies are concerned. Let's take a look at the Oval in England, it is one of those pitches that produce a lot of runs but you do not hear that it is a bad pitch. Why do they always complain when it comes to the West Indies. I remeber years ago when there were a lot of West Indians playing County cricket the complaint was that they were taking away the game from home grown players only because they were just too good for them. The next move was to limit bouncers per over because they could'nt handle the Windies quicks. Come on you guys stop crying

  • Montrose Matthews on March 5, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Although I wanted to see a result from the game in Barbados I am disappointed with the way the English writers see the West Indies when it comes to their team being behind. There will always be something wrong as long as things do not go their way. I do not see them picking on any of the Asian teams when test matches produce lots of runs on wickets that are worst than that at Kensington Oval. There is always a problem when it comes to the West Indies are concerned. Let's take a look at the Oval in England, it is one of those pitches that produce a lot of runs but you do not hear that it is a bad pitch. Why do they always complain when it comes to the West Indies. I remeber years ago when there were a lot of West Indians playing County cricket the complaint was that they were taking away the game from home grown players only because they were just too good for them. The next move was to limit bouncers per over because they could'nt handle the Windies quicks. Come on you guys stop crying

  • WINSTON GODDARD on March 5, 2009, 1:34 GMT

    Sore losers. everyone just expect to beat up on the Iest Indies without retaliation. not this series. you have to play very strong cricket to beat us this time around. Sorry but this is a one love beating for you

  • Nick Westmaas on March 5, 2009, 0:59 GMT

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  • Nick Westmaas on March 5, 2009, 0:59 GMT

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  • Nick Westmaas on March 5, 2009, 0:47 GMT

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  • clement on March 5, 2009, 0:19 GMT

    listen where the cries are coming from about dead pitch,oh England you won't win this series ,or can you,most you can hope for is to win in Trinidad and draw the series. I expect west indies to do well in Trinidad,Oh mighty England,you disappointed ,aren't you

  • clement on March 5, 2009, 0:19 GMT

    listen where the cries are coming from about dead pitch,oh England you won't win this series ,or can you,most you can hope for is to win in Trinidad and draw the series. I expect west indies to do well in Trinidad,Oh mighty England,you disappointed ,aren't you

  • Nick Westmaas on March 5, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me. I'm backing the Windies to win in Trinidad. I long for the day to see the English hopping about in fear as it was against Windies from 1978-1995. Pace in dey waist!

  • Nick Westmaas on March 5, 2009, 0:02 GMT

    Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me. I'm backing the Windies to win in Trinidad. I long for the day to see the English hopping about in fear as it was against Windies from 1978-1995. Pace in dey waist!

  • Jeff_j on March 4, 2009, 23:38 GMT

    I do not understand Patrick, why bring Fletcher when Dinesh is clearly the best wicketkeeper in the West Indies, short of runs I agree but so has been many of the players that have been selected over the recent years as batsmen. Samuels is a class batsman, no doubt, but just to throw out a thought, don't you think it strange that he has recieved a ban just as he started to mature and make a place for himself as a permanent batsman on the team? And what about Lawson?......I also think that for this upcoming test jaggernauth should be given a look at along with Lendyl Simmons and I would have rested Powell, but what other pacer do we have to take his place? England has a very good bowler in Anderson, Broad is coming along, if Harmison can find some form the West Indies should watch out. Nice blog Andy

  • Adrian on March 4, 2009, 23:20 GMT

    At one stage on the 3rd day I really thought that it was the West Indies X1 vs 14. We all forgot how poor the umpiring was with figures of '5 for spit'. Our memories are very short. As far as memory serve me both teams played on the same pitch so I don't see whats all the fuss about. Sarwan's 291 was pure devine intervention after the umps had a field day. We call it balance.

  • Clive Jackson on March 4, 2009, 23:10 GMT

    Andy, where are you guys from? All of a sudden everybody is bad mouthing the great game. This has been the nature of the game from the beginning and if you guys cannot appreciate it go find some American game to watch. What is the big deal about a game on a dead track producing tons of runs? It is just one game. Forget about it. We are going to run off our mouths and find all kinds of stupid rules for a game. If all you guys can do is criticize then go watch some other game and leave cricket alone.

  • Clive Jackson on March 4, 2009, 23:10 GMT

    Andy, where are you guys from? All of a sudden everybody is bad mouthing the great game. This has been the nature of the game from the beginning and if you guys cannot appreciate it go find some American game to watch. What is the big deal about a game on a dead track producing tons of runs? It is just one game. Forget about it. We are going to run off our mouths and find all kinds of stupid rules for a game. If all you guys can do is criticize then go watch some other game and leave cricket alone.

  • Clive Jackson on March 4, 2009, 23:09 GMT

    Andy, where are you guys from? All of a sudden everybody is bad mouthing the great game. This has been the nature of the game from the beginning and if you guys cannot appreciate it go find some American game to watch. What is the big deal about a game on a dead track producing tons of runs? It is just one game. Forget about it. We are going to run off our mouths and find all kinds of stupid rules for a game. If all you guys can do is criticize then go watch some other game and leave cricket alone.

  • Fletch on March 4, 2009, 22:46 GMT

    How many catches dropped in this test? Just a small point worth considering....

  • heedwa on March 4, 2009, 22:13 GMT

    everyone is only saying this because England never won the test. Get over the fact that England are the only team in the world that can make over 500 and still not win a match. What a pathetic performance by an over rated English team.

  • Adam Dawson on March 4, 2009, 22:09 GMT

    Scores of 550+ make me a little nauseous. After this game I had to have a lie down in a darkened room.

  • PKK on March 4, 2009, 22:07 GMT

    Easy way out....Blame the picth....Tell me one thing guys....If team batting first made 600 and had a bowling attack of Wasim Akram, Murali, Warne, Mcgrath.....who would have won....

    Lets face it ENG and WI bowling was below par..but lets all blame the pitch which was a great batting pitch but with better bowling a result was possible

  • ANDRES on March 4, 2009, 22:04 GMT

    THE ENGLISH PRESS ALWAYS FIND SOME KIND OF FAULT WHEN THINGS AINT GO THE WAY THAT THEY WANTEA IT.WHETHER PITCH IS DEAD OR FAST,IF U BOWL IN THE RIGHT AREAS U WILL GET YOUR REWARD.ASK MICHEAL HOLDING AND HE WILL TELL YOU TO REMEMBER THE OVAL IN ENGLAND SOME YEARS BACK.HOOOOOOGAGAGOOOOOBOOOO!!!!!

  • sheeraz on March 4, 2009, 22:03 GMT

    If Bopara played then why the other player that came with him an excelled in the previous game with the ball was not picked as well as the young wrist spinner.Is it because England is afraid that their team would have too many "coloured" players? At the moment West Indies is not playing the best team available to them (openers Simmons and Bharat...Gayle should bat lower down the order) and yet still England cannot get them out twice...dead wicket or not that should give Flowers and the boys a hint that their bowling attack is not up to par.Do not blame the pitches. Personally I hope Queens Park Oval is another feather bed.I want to see the antics of the umpires..all four of them.

  • Glyn jones on March 4, 2009, 21:50 GMT

    As an avid England supporter living here in the Antipodes,and desperately hoping for something to crow about during the upcoming ashes series, Can I humbly suggest that this is exactly what England need..To be shown yet again that the current crop of bowling hopefulls is woefull...I agree with Andy's comments above..Give Rashid a go..He has the potential to offer something different..I was never much of a bowler myself but if Anderson and Sidebottom are the best the selectors can find then you might as well give me a go too..At best they are both good county trundlers..What are the selectors thinking!!!

  • Greypatch on March 4, 2009, 21:46 GMT

    Excellent article...

    But a pitch should be but a small problem when the Mighty English play the hapless WI.

    After all this series was but a mere warm up for the ashes.

    What a sad day when the 6th ranked team cannot defeat the WI

  • St. John on March 4, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    Have you seen that film "Awakenings" with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams? About the catatonic patients who wake up suddenly and then revert back to their trance-like vegetative state? I hear they're making a sequel: "Awakenings II: The Barbados Spectators". Poor blighters, flying all that way with current exchange rates just to watch a 5-day batting net and experience sunstroke and coma at the same time. I'm surprised that by the end of it the only people wearing white weren't the psychiatrists trying to revive the spectators. You'd have to use a kango hammer on that pitch rather than a roller to make the game more interesting. What a travesty. Maybe the ICC should do something about pitches like these?

  • hustler on March 4, 2009, 20:51 GMT

    England is all about complaints,i am sure they never expect that west indies would be this tough to beat given that the last they were here.and i gaurantee that in trinidad england will get what coming to them and thats a cheap bowl down first innnings and a walk over second one.

  • Nicardo on March 4, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    I liked the way in which the author presented his article. It was filled with charisma and very mimic like. However, do not blame the pitch. The players much use what they have and considering the fact that Fidel edwards extract alot of life from the pitch (bounce and pace) along with anderson's swing bowling the test could have been a lot more lively if a more vibrant pace attack was in place on both teams part. And more over the west indies looked like old ladies trying to string a needle out in the field.

  • LovCricket on March 4, 2009, 19:47 GMT

    For the love of test match, please give a break to the bowlers!!!, and a billion dollar reward to the Wanderers pitch curator… May be ICC should do exactly that, reward the ground curator / ground man for a sporty (equally balanced) pitch

  • Ian Daniel on March 4, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    everyone is saying that the wicket is really flat adn what not....but lets look at it from this way....a couple of years ago...even on THAT BARBADOS PITCH....west indies would have lost following on.... there were many here in the west indies that still bear those scars...and we wouldn't have been all too surprised by that scenario....indeed...perhaps THAT is more the reason why noone fancied WI attaining a lead....rather than 600 being an imposing target.

    for US with THOSE SCARS....this match was ENTIRELY enthralling... and the result inspiring!

  • allblue on March 4, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    It seems to be impossible to discuss cricket here without froths of self-righteous indignation all round. If England had won the match ie taken 20 wickets (or vice versa) it would by definition not have been an overly batsman friendly wicket and we'd be talking about something else! Yes Fidel bowled with great pace and hostility - and ended with 3-192! Kinda proves the point really! Admittedly neither sides have great attacks, hence their current rankings - but then Murali suffered 1-172 in Karachi recently!

    This is becoming a problem. Ideally the ICC would establish a Pitch Inspectorate to ensure sporting wickets - but then just sit back and watch the politics start, and enjoy these boards exploding with indignation at every imaginable perceived slight and hint of bias! Heaven help us!

  • Charlie on March 4, 2009, 19:16 GMT

    I agree, sensible selection would have meant England could do better in conditions, both here and in Antigua.

    We were told Harmison was dropped because he was "not fast or hostile enough". So just how fast & hostile was Sidebottom? and did nobody notice that he had bowled through the entire first test without disturbing the wickets column, unlike Harmison who chipped in with a couple?

    Now we're told that Ambrose will be dropped after getting 76, so that Prior can walk back in after his holiday. This is apparently important, so that we can have 5 bowlers. (presumably this also means Bopara gets axed after scoring a hundred). Harmison, though, won't play, says Flower. So who are the 5 bowlers? Does this mean the management think Panesar is a bigger wicket-taking threat than Harmison?

    England have sacked everyone else this year, I think it's time they dispensed with the "national selector" as well. I'm happy to take on the role, joining the new coach Andy Micklewright.

  • sundar on March 4, 2009, 18:55 GMT

    England crying for win. But i am sure if the conditions suit for bowlers then England going to lose. This England team can't even beat mom's team. Awfult wicket keeping . Toothless bowling. Selfish batting, what else you want to destroy a team

  • Anonymous on March 4, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    Ramdin and Powell have to go it doesnt matter what some people do they always go back to square one (Ramdin)Powell is tired he needs a rest,WI could use Sla Nikita Miller,or Nelon Pascal Rfm too

  • patrick on March 4, 2009, 18:37 GMT

    Bring back Marlon Samuels and Andre Fletcher wkpr

  • Mohamed Z. Rahaman (Breado) on March 4, 2009, 18:34 GMT

    Shiv Chanderpaul would still be batting if England were not playing with 14 men (11 players and 3 umpires). Victor, Ken, Henry & Warren are all right. They changed the rules on bouncers when WI were dominating because if you can't beat 'em change the rules!

  • Andy Micklewright on March 4, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    Lets face it, the team selected was a great team, if England were 1-0 up and wanted to make sure of not losing!

    However, being 1 down and needing to win, but more importantly needing 20 wickets to win, why on earth did we take 3 mediums and 1 offie?

    Rashid has been flown around the world and hasnt bowled a ball in anger yet! At least he is different in 2 ways, nobody has seen him at the top level (yet and maybe never will) and he bowls leggies.

    He and Khan must have some huge airmiles stacked up, and for me Khan or Harmison should have played rather than a very in-effective Sidebottom.

    Any body want to put me forward as head coach?

  • Martin Rogers on March 4, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Sledged out, that is class. the pitch was pretty dead, for 600 to play 750 then 200 for 2 shows there's not much there. I'd rather a nice bowling pitch, where 60 plays 75 and 2 for 2, that would keep people interested. Also, sledged out to become a proper dismissal without doubt!

  • Andy on March 4, 2009, 18:20 GMT

    Sniffing substance again Andy, havent we ...

    U should have posted this article before WI bat and I would have believe...otherwise to that Haul-off.

    Anker suggestions steals this post... funny :-)

  • Kryn on March 4, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    I think one should investigate England & WI bowling attacks before investigating the pitch. No disrespect but the bowling was rather village-like.

  • patrick on March 4, 2009, 17:16 GMT

    Bring back Marlon Samuels and Andre Fletcher wkpr

  • Shilo on March 4, 2009, 17:04 GMT

    A humorous article and indeed a fun read. However blaming the pitch alone is a bit myopic. The missed and dropped catches by the Windies were akin to catching balloons in the wind and handling hot steel balls with buttered hands.

    According to Michael Holding, "There is absolutely no way that Harmison should not be playing in this match". England selected 3 medium pacers on a pitch producing even bounce and little lateral movement. I don't think that Hawkin's genius was required to deduce that they would struggle.

    In response to those moaning about a "dead" pitch, I seem to recall that a certain sub 6-ft round-arm bowler was able to generate enough pace to produce wicket-keeper eluding bouncers.

    The point is there were no genuine world class pacers in this match and they were horribly exposed. This, combined with a "true" pitch, dodgy field placings (countless bisections), bizarre player selections, laughable catching and bright sunny conditions = run fest.

    Enough said!

  • sam on March 4, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    why not have a scantily clad 20something cheerleader to be the umpire if we are going to refer everything. more interesting to look at too...

  • Warren Jones on March 4, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    If England would play cricket and stop crying about pitch conditions they might do better. Had the West Indies held they catches England would have been beaten and they would be no talk of the pitch. Now on to T&T GOOO WEST INDIES With the one bowler England have(Anderson)they will be in for much more blowes thats how it will go.

  • Henry Gray on March 4, 2009, 15:59 GMT

    I hear you, Victor. Remember Port of Spain 1994, England 46 all out, chasing 194. The entire English contingent (the cricketers, media, WAGs) jumped on the bandwagon of what a demon of a wicket that was! When England lost against India at Chennai last year, apparently the wicket did not break as much as had been expected. But no self-respecting Englishman (including Mr. Zaltzman, I am sure) would bring up Colin Cowdrey and Peter May's "footballing" (not my words, Sonny Ramadhin's word) against Ramadhin and Valentine. That was not negative cricket; that was simply great, strategic batting! No wonder that nobody (except the English commentators, of course) is really grudging the impending (hopefully) series victory by WI against the arrogant and pompous English team.

  • Dheeraj on March 4, 2009, 15:29 GMT

    A few more suggestions: a) On such pitches, the batsmen that got out in the first innings are not allowed to return to bat in the second innings b) Fix a minimum run rate of 4 runs per over. At the end of every 15 overs the run rate is reviewed and if it is below the fixed run rate, the runs scored during those 15 overs is halved

  • ken on March 4, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    Victor has said it so well.Had England won the Test,there would have been no complaints about the pitch.Andrew Strauss has commented that he would like a pitch that deteriorates over 5 days.If he gets that in Trinidad,and England lose,we won't hear the end of how bad the Trinidad pitch was.

  • Swami on March 4, 2009, 13:56 GMT

    I think the limit of one bouncer an over doesnt make sense anymore. With batmen making a merry, there is no point in protecting batsmen. They are anyway well protected. Of course to prevent negative bowling the umpires should be strict with wides for balls that are above head height.

  • Goatman on March 4, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    I like the suggestions by Ankur. Can I add:- 1. A 'powerplay' system to be invoked in which batsmen must wear eyepatches. 2. A 'Romesh Powar-play' system to be invoked in which batsmen must shove pillows up thier jumpers. 3. Bowlers to be allowed to bowl from both ends simultaneously. 4. Sightscreens to be polished to such a sheen that batsmen have to squint through a glare of retina-incinerating severity, in which they are forced to fence ineffectually at any dark speck in thier vision in the hope that it is the ball rather than evidence of irreversible sight loss. 5. Heavy rollers to be equally heavily spiked.

  • Pochard on March 4, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Ankur, brilliant suggestions. Here's a few more: 6. Beamers legalised. 7. Pads for batsmen prohibited. To cope with the beamer barrage, helmets are still tolerated, but sneered at. 8. Introduction of the 'sledged out' rule, to be adjudicated by the Sledge Umpire (which should preferably be Andy Zaltzman). He listens via stump mic and can interrupt play anytime to give a batsman out if a player delivers a particularly clever or pleasing sledge and the batsman fails to respond with something equally funny. 9. In case it's still too boring, all players required to wear silly fancy dress, eg. Flintoff in a mini skirt and frilly knickers, Suleiman Benn with a Shane Warne wig, etc. 10. In the unlikely event of a draw the match is awarded to the team with the most ridiculous costumes.

  • Victor on March 4, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    One supposes that if WI had batted poorly and England had won the test, it would have been a great game. Even after much help from the umpires, England could not get 10 wickets far less ten. I guess too, that if the wicket in Trinidad is such that England is bowled out twice cheaply that that wicket will be considered a poor wicket.

  • Rex on March 4, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    I just can't find the right adjective to describe the beauty of this article! Summa cum laude Andy! Fantastic! Capital! You've surpassed yourself in this article- especially that Hague human rights court and Guantanamo paragraph- I blew my head off laughing! Thank God and Cricinfo for a blog like this! Never stop Andy! Thank you!

  • Jensrsa on March 4, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    Ankur, great suggestions. A few more:

    6. Any fielder may obstruct a batsman trying to run more than one run. 7. If the ball touches a fielder's hands before bouncing it's considered caught. 8. Wicketkeeping a la Haddin is legal.

  • Tubby on March 4, 2009, 12:01 GMT

    Ankur greatest suggestions ever, i'm all for it

  • Tubby on March 4, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    Ankur greatest suggestions ever, i'm all for it

  • Ankur on March 4, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    Andy, I suggest a few measures to ensure results on such pitches: 1. Make ball-tampering legal 2. One-tip one-hand should be out 3. Batsman out if he does not appear on the field five seconds after previous batsman 4. Reduce bat thickness by half 5. Allow bowlers to wrestle batsmen to the ground when angry etc. etc.

  • saatwik on March 4, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    Suddenly, test pitches have become so heinous that I suggest if a team scores 600+ in the first innings and dosen't get a lead, the test should immediately be declared as draw in favour of a few t20 matches being played on subsequent scheduled match days.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • saatwik on March 4, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    Suddenly, test pitches have become so heinous that I suggest if a team scores 600+ in the first innings and dosen't get a lead, the test should immediately be declared as draw in favour of a few t20 matches being played on subsequent scheduled match days.

  • Ankur on March 4, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    Andy, I suggest a few measures to ensure results on such pitches: 1. Make ball-tampering legal 2. One-tip one-hand should be out 3. Batsman out if he does not appear on the field five seconds after previous batsman 4. Reduce bat thickness by half 5. Allow bowlers to wrestle batsmen to the ground when angry etc. etc.

  • Tubby on March 4, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    Ankur greatest suggestions ever, i'm all for it

  • Tubby on March 4, 2009, 12:01 GMT

    Ankur greatest suggestions ever, i'm all for it

  • Jensrsa on March 4, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    Ankur, great suggestions. A few more:

    6. Any fielder may obstruct a batsman trying to run more than one run. 7. If the ball touches a fielder's hands before bouncing it's considered caught. 8. Wicketkeeping a la Haddin is legal.

  • Rex on March 4, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    I just can't find the right adjective to describe the beauty of this article! Summa cum laude Andy! Fantastic! Capital! You've surpassed yourself in this article- especially that Hague human rights court and Guantanamo paragraph- I blew my head off laughing! Thank God and Cricinfo for a blog like this! Never stop Andy! Thank you!

  • Victor on March 4, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    One supposes that if WI had batted poorly and England had won the test, it would have been a great game. Even after much help from the umpires, England could not get 10 wickets far less ten. I guess too, that if the wicket in Trinidad is such that England is bowled out twice cheaply that that wicket will be considered a poor wicket.

  • Pochard on March 4, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Ankur, brilliant suggestions. Here's a few more: 6. Beamers legalised. 7. Pads for batsmen prohibited. To cope with the beamer barrage, helmets are still tolerated, but sneered at. 8. Introduction of the 'sledged out' rule, to be adjudicated by the Sledge Umpire (which should preferably be Andy Zaltzman). He listens via stump mic and can interrupt play anytime to give a batsman out if a player delivers a particularly clever or pleasing sledge and the batsman fails to respond with something equally funny. 9. In case it's still too boring, all players required to wear silly fancy dress, eg. Flintoff in a mini skirt and frilly knickers, Suleiman Benn with a Shane Warne wig, etc. 10. In the unlikely event of a draw the match is awarded to the team with the most ridiculous costumes.

  • Goatman on March 4, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    I like the suggestions by Ankur. Can I add:- 1. A 'powerplay' system to be invoked in which batsmen must wear eyepatches. 2. A 'Romesh Powar-play' system to be invoked in which batsmen must shove pillows up thier jumpers. 3. Bowlers to be allowed to bowl from both ends simultaneously. 4. Sightscreens to be polished to such a sheen that batsmen have to squint through a glare of retina-incinerating severity, in which they are forced to fence ineffectually at any dark speck in thier vision in the hope that it is the ball rather than evidence of irreversible sight loss. 5. Heavy rollers to be equally heavily spiked.

  • Swami on March 4, 2009, 13:56 GMT

    I think the limit of one bouncer an over doesnt make sense anymore. With batmen making a merry, there is no point in protecting batsmen. They are anyway well protected. Of course to prevent negative bowling the umpires should be strict with wides for balls that are above head height.