West Indies v England, 3rd Test, Antigua, 3rd day February 17, 2009

Regretful Sarwan refuses to give up

Ramnaresh Sarwan: 'Taking the conditions into consideration, the way I got out was pretty disappointing' © AFP

One of the many batting records that belong to the Antigua Recreation Ground is the highest successful run-chase of 418, which West Indies completed against Australia in 2003. It's not much to cling onto, but given their dire position after three days it's probably all they have got.

West Indies were left regretting rash strokeplay, a factor which was far removed from the disciplined performance in Kingston when they ground out a match-winning lead. The top-scorer, Ramnaresh Sarwan, was as guilty as any of them when he hacked to midwicket for 94 which meant his team had little hope of avoiding the follow-on. Devon Smith also fell to a horror swipe which summed up why he averages just 24 and Denesh Ramdin chipped a full toss back to Graeme Swann.

"Taking the conditions into consideration, the way I got out was pretty disappointing," said Sarwan. "Myself and Nashy [Brendan Nash] were going pretty well and at that stage we lost three or four wickets quickly and I felt pretty bad with the shot I got out to as well. I think we tried to be too positive against Swann and that was one of our faults today."

England, though, decided not to put West Indies straight back in, and while Sarwan wasn't surprised by that move he did revive memories of that 2003 chase. "Some strange things have happened at this ground, in terms of chasing runs," he said. "We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves in terms of playing for a draw, I just think it is important from here on that we continue to play positive cricket and continue to believe in ourselves.

"The only concern is the ridge, with the new ball it does a bit more. It is important for us to be positive. We don't want to find ourselves in a situation where England will be attacking us and we find ourselves under pressure."

England's follow-on decision was simple after the state of their fast attack became clear. Steve Harmison came to the ground feeling ill and had to leave the field on a couple of occasions, while Andrew Flintoff appeared to be labouring with a slight hip problem.

"Harmy woke up ill this morning and vomited a couple of times," Swann said. "He kept coming out and hitting the pitch, doing his best, which shows the heart of the bloke. He gets some stick from certain quarters but I'm all over him. He's been fantastic for us because at one point he could barely stand up."

However, even with a full complement of bowlers it is unlikely England would have fielded again. They have recent experience of toiling through a follow-on when South Africa batted for two days at Lord's to save the game. Although there is a week until the fourth Test in Barbados these conditions are exhausting for the quicks.

Now, Harmison and Flintoff have a chance to recharge their batteries before coming hard at West Indies sometime before tea on the fourth day. Andrew Strauss will need all his bowlers, because on their day this West Indies line-up can take some shifting, although any thoughts of another ARG record chase are fairly fanciful.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo