England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 2nd day June 9, 2012

Anderson's absence and Onions' return

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the third (or is that first?) day at Edgbaston

Comeback of the day

Graham Onions admits he has experienced some 'dark days' since his last Test, at Cape Town in January 2010. A serious back injury necessitated surgery and the insertion of a titanium pin. For some time, it was feared he would never play again and Onions considered retraining as an umpire or a teacher. But, through the skill of his surgeon, the support of the England medical team and hours of hard work in the gym and in county cricket, Onions fully justified his recall with a performance that spoke volumes for his perseverance and desire. He was, arguably, the pick of the bowlers and will surely not have to wait as long for his next Test appearance.

Miss of the day

James Anderson. While the control of England's attack was hard to fault, the suspicion remains that Anderson may have been able to find a little more seam or swing movement. But it wasn't just Anderson's bowling that was missed. Ian Bell, making an appearance in the slip cordon partially due to the absence of Anderson, dropped two catches and Andrew Strauss dropped another. If Bell's first drop, when Adrian Barath on five edged Onions to third slip, was tricky - and, by these standards, it really was not - the second, again offered by Barath this time on 40 off Steven Finn, was unusually simple. Anderson, like Paul Collingwood before him, is always worth more than the runs and wickets he contributes.

Effort of the day

More than 80mm of rain - that's around 20mm more than the monthly average - had fallen on Edgbaston in the 60 hours before this Test finally began. It was, therefore, something of a miracle that play was finally able to begin on time on the third day in remarkably good conditions. The credit for that belongs almost entirely with Warwickshire's groundstaff. Most of them had hardly slept for the two previous nights and none of them had been home since the early hours of Thursday as, despite the wind and relentless rain, they continued the mopping-up operation and ensured that the covers kept the wicket and the run-up areas dry. It was a fine effort.

Shot of the day

The force is strong in Marlon Samuels at present. The fielder may have been pushed back on to the long-on fence, the ball may have been tossed up to invite the stroke and he might have been up against one of the best spinners in the game but, such is Samuels' form and confidence at present, he was happy to take it on. Skipping down the pitch, he launched the delivery from Graeme Swann over the long-on fence for six. Underlining his dominance, he drilled the next delivery for four through extra-cover and provided another demonstration

Strike(s) of the day

Many bowlers have attempted to bowl close to the stumps, but surely none have come closer than Finn on the first day of this game. Indeed, Finn, in the stride before his delivery, dislodged the bails with his right leg - usually his knee - at least a dozen times as he charged into bowl. It is hard to recall another bowler doing it nearly so often.

Spirit of the day

The atmosphere of an Edgbaston Test is quite special. While it will not be to everyone's taste - you are more likely to see a 'beer snake' than a cucumber sandwich - at a time when the Test game is fighting to retain its relevance, it is encouraging to see a decent sized crowd - the 17,000 here would have constituted a sell-out at every Test stadium outside London - including many more young people than is the case elsewhere. While Trent Bridge and Lord's do not welcome the Barmy Army and do not allow its trumpeter, Billy Cooper, to play, Edgbaston have gone in the other direction. Dedicating the Saturday of this Test to 'Barmy Army reunion day,' the ground was awash with spectators in fancy dress costumes and the sound of their songs.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Laurie on June 10, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    A 'Barmy Army reunion day'?? I didn't notice that the boring, noisy annoyances had split up.

  • Marcio on June 10, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @AKS286 England have never looked like scorong anywhere near 550 runs in this series. Dream on.

  • Anupam on June 10, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    appreciation for onions after a injury comeback. best of luck for future. still 70% Eng chance of winning. if eng take a lead of 250 and 50-65 overs remaining ENG will win definately.2nd inning of WI looks like 70/4. no shivy so eng will win the 3rd test.

  • John on June 10, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @citizenkc on (June 10 2012, 04:21 AM GMT) I agree with half of your post , but maybe one of the reasons they are playing above mosts realistic expectations is because they are not established players and are more hungry to establish themselves. Edwards was very mediocre in the 1st test. Roach was decent enough. Gayle - well he has ability but I'm not sure his heart would have been in it and Sarwan could also have made a difference but have you seen his last load of scores when playing for WI? Shiv would obviously make a difference. I would say that the grass isn't always greener and I'm pretty sure before the series people were naming their team and having Bravo in there instead of Samuels. Anyway , no one's winning this test

  • John on June 10, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (June 10 2012, 02:59 AM GMT) Agreed. I'd say if England wanted to increase their chances of forcing a result they would have increased those chances more with a 5 man bowling attack but I think we all know that this will never happen.

  • John on June 10, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    @jackiethepen on (June 09 2012, 19:46 PM GMT) Bell had a mare at slip. These things can happen. Having said that , you yourself made a big issue about a run out Bell helped with in the 1st test so you if you're going to make a big deal when Bell does something of use you have to take it on the chin whenever he makes a mistake and people criticise. Do you actually notice anything which happens on the field which doesn't involve Bell? What about giving Onions some credit for the way he bowled and in general has bounced back?

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    I'm very happy to see Onions back. I think he's a class bowler who has been unlucky not only with injury but selection too. I feared he was going to be the next Simon Jones.

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Amazing effort by the Edgbaston groundstaff in awful weather..hope the ECB/Warwickshire board hand out bonuses to them

  • kanishka on June 10, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    It's really heartening to see the WI showing some fighting spirit. One has to remember that this is number 8 vs number 1. England demolished India (then no. 1) last summer with batsmen like Sehwag, Tendulkar. and Laxman failing miserably. Here we have a team of batsmen, sans Chandra, that has a combined experience of Gautam Gambhir and yet they are holding their own. Good job, WI. It's good to see the fighting spirit! Win or lose. At least you are fighting hard and giving your fans something to cheer about. What would this team look like with Gayle, Sarwan, Chandra, Edwards, Roach, and Bravo. I would put my money on that team, even against no. 1.

  • John on June 10, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    I don't think that many people realistically believed that a result was going to be achieved here in three days but it will be almost impossible now. I reckon England would have to have dismissed WI for not much more than 220 and have been batting for at least an hour by the end of the day. Perhaps they could have done so if they'd held their catches but even then I doubt it. I don't think that the pitch did nearly as much as some thought it might, which is a credit to the ground staff really. If England can take the last two wickets early and then bat aggressively and then bowl out of their skins, they may be able to force a WI collapse on the last day but I just don't see it. Also, if they want to score at over 4 an over then they'll have to take risks and may end up collapsing themselves. There's also the unknown Narine factor, although I don't see this surface helping him all that much. That said, for a spinner who can turn it both ways, a little spin may be better than a lot.

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