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West Indies v England, 4th Test, Barbados, 2nd day
Holding: Harmison should pack up and leave
February 27, 2009
England are in a great position in the Test, but it was an ideal pitch for Steve Harmison, and they didn't play him
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"Ravi Bopara was hit by Fidel Edwards, on his face, early on his innings, yet he kept taking on the bouncers and played them very well and it was a very good knock" © AFP
Andrew McGlashan: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk, at the end of the second day of the fourth Test here in Barbados. I am joined by Michael Holding to look back on the action where England have racked up a massive 606 for 6 declared. Mikey, a fine effort from England, second match in a row…

Michael Holding: Yes, it was a very good effort but they were aided and abetted by a very poor fielding effort from West Indies - they dropped at least seven catches in the innings which really helped England. But don't take anything away from the England batsmen, they applied themselves and though West Indies dropped catches, they made runs which was what was required.

AMG: A maiden Test century from Ravi Bopara; what did you make of his innings?

MH: He batted very well. You have to take your hat off to him: he was hit by Fidel Edwards, on his face early on his innings, yet he kept taking on the bouncers and played them very well and it was a very good knock.

AMG: Though they were helped by some poor fielding, England really batted with intent and purpose today …

MH: The onus is on England. They are one down and they need to get runs and get them quickly and then try and get 10 wickets. They went out there with a sense of purpose trying to do that. They got the runs fairly quickly, because if you don't get your runs quickly on this pitch, it shows that you are a little bit of a slouch. The ball is coming on nicely to the bat, the pace is even, the bounce is even and the batsmen should enjoy it. Only when you are batting against someone with extreme pace like Edwards would you face any problems; but the rest of the bowlers really didn't come up to scratch.

AMG: In the last couple of Tests, West Indies seems to have dropped their heads when confronted with flat conditions. Is that a natural inclination of a side that has been in the field, or should they have showed some amount of life?

MH: It is a bit difficult. You feel that they should show a bit more of life and Edwards did that. But the other bowlers do not have the pace that Edwards has so it is a bit difficult for them. It is easy to sit in the pavilion and say that the bowlers should be charging in and try to bowl a bit quicker and show more aggression but it is not that easy when you are actually out there doing it. I think they tried to limit England's scoring so that they had to bat a fair amount of time to get their runs. And that is the best that they could do what they have got.

AMG: I know we are only two days into the game, but is this an example of a pitch that is a bit too good?

I think it is too good when you look at the bowlers who are and will be bowling on it. I think if England had Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, they would have had an outstanding chance of winning this Test; not that I think they won't win now, but those two would have given them a much better chance. This is a sort of pitch on which you need to bowl with pace. This is a good cricket pitch; it's the best cricket pitch we have seen so far. The pace and bounce have been consistent, which are the first two things you are looking for. But there is no swing after the first 15 overs; there is not a lot of lateral movement, so it is going to be hard work, unless, as a bowler, you have good pace. The England bowlers do not have that pace; only one West Indian bowler has that pace. So you then start relying on the spinners to get you wickets and if they aren't top notch, again, you won't get wickets quickly. So yes, it will be hard work for the bowlers on this pitch and everyone will say that the pitch is too flat but I think it depends on who you have got in your attack.

AMG: Would this have been one game where you would have stuck by Harmison for one final chance?

MH: Yes, definitely. When Harmison found out that he was not playing the Test, he might as well have packed up his bags and gone home. There is no point in him hanging around here. This would have been an ideal pitch for him. He is tall, has a fair amount of pace and could have got the ball to bounce disconcertingly at the batsmen, especially with most of the West Indian batsmen being so short. Chris Gayle is the only tall one in that line-up; Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Devon Smith are all small guys. He wouldn't have had to bang it in half-way; he could have bowled at a reasonably good length and that would have been difficult for the batsmen,

AMG: And finally, I know we have spoken about the referrals earlier, but there were a couple of them today: Kevin Pietersen's which seemed pretty plumb to the naked eye. And then England referred one against Gayle when he was given not out and he didn't seem that pleased … any more thoughts after today?

MH: Well we have seen that the referral system has worked again today. Pietersen was just trying because he was hoping to get a lot of runs on this pitch but the system showed that he was out. And it was the same case with Gayle. He was given not out, but the referral system reversed it which was the correct decision. The umpire perhaps thought that the ball had pitched outside leg or was swinging too much and would have missed leg. The referral system brought all the technology that was allowed into play and it showed that the ball did pitch in line, it would have hit leg stump and so he was out. At the end of the day you do want the right decision.

AMG: West Indies have a lot of work over the next three days and I will be back with Mikey at the end of the fifth day to see whether they have managed to save this Test.

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