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February 28, 2009
No short leg, no second slip
This isn't the sort of pitch where you want half chances to go begging, especially when a bowling attack is already struggling to take 20 wickets. Andrew Strauss certainly had plenty of runs to play with after the previous day's carnage, but time is also of the essence. The bowlers were soon trying a variety of tricks to remove Ramnaresh Sarwan with Stuart Broad going into bouncer-mode from round the wicket. One delivery bounced a little and was fended into the vacant short-leg area, and next ball a short leg went in. A short while later Devon Smith edged between first and third slip (where was second?). Smith didn't last much longer but Sarwan was more of a problem.
The quick bowlers won't be rushing over to thank the groundsman after this match. The promise of pace and carry hasn't materialised and the ball bounced twice through to the keeper. Coupled with that, the Kookaburra ball doesn't swing for very long which makes life tough for the likes of James Anderson. He tried to find some swing, both conventional and reverse, but little went off straight. It didn't take long for Anderson to look a little fed up and as Ryan Hinds defended one solidly back down the pitch, Anderson collected and threw down the stumps. It was the closest England came to bowling anyone all day.
Graeme Swann has made a habit of striking the West Indies' left handers on the pads and getting favourable decisions. At the ARG it was all down to the on-field umpires, but here referrals are back. When Swann trapped Devon Smith on the front foot the batsman asked for a second look but there wasn't enough evidence for Daryl Harper to reverse Aleem Dar's decision. Then shortly before lunch Swann did exactly the same to Hinds and this time the batsman walked off without asking for TV. Replays showed that the Hinds lbw was less out (if there is such a thing) than Smith's but nobody will know what Harper would have said.
I'm not interested
Shivnarine Chanderpaul was in supreme touch during his 70 and England didn't look like getting him out. At one point, they were happy just to stop the scoring and Swann bowled six deliveries well wide of the stumps. Chanderpaul resorted to just standing there and watching them go past, barely even bothering with his back lift. He would then sit on his bat handle and wait for the next ball before doing the same again. It was a little like saying "is that all you've got?"
A mini milestone
Ramnaresh Sarwan has a good collection of Test hundreds, but apart from his 261 against Bangladesh had failed to convert them into more imposing scores. He knew this was his chance and after reaching three figures settled down to do it all over again. With an easy single off Anderson he moved to 140, his new second-highest score in Tests and a mark he hadn't past since July 2004. This time he made it count.
Now it's getting silly
Talking about referrals is starting to sound a little like a broken record, but they keep provoking heated debate. When Anderson swung the new ball back into Chanderpaul's pads as he shouldered arms Russell Tiffen's finger went up. In the same instance, Chanderpaul made the 'T' sign and the fun started. There was extra bounce with the new ball and it was already level with the bails (and rising) when it struck the pad. It looked like a certain reversal, but then Tiffen walked back to the stumps and confirmed his decision. Cricinfo's inboxes got a bashing as did the reputation of this trial. And let's not even start on Brendan Nash's dismissal.
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