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February 19, 2009
That wasn't what the England players wanted to see when they opened their curtains, rain hammering down in St John's. It was heavy stuff for a while and large puddles greeted the teams at the ground with the full covering across the pitch. But the groundstaff, who did so much to get the place ready in a hurry, were soon into action and despite a few more scudding showers soon had the surface fit for play.
The pain barrier
Andrew Flintoff put an almost super-human effort to help England in their victory quest as he put his body through the mill. The pain from his injured hip was clear for all to see as he grimaced during his run-up and bent over in his follow through. The six-over spell he produced after tea was a magnificent effort and he so nearly claimed Denesh Ramdin's wicket. Then, in a final throw of the dice, he came back on for a final over. This may have been the last of Flintoff on the tour, but he left no one in any doubt as to how much he is willing to give for his country.
Not strictly to do with the action on the field, but the ECB announced Amjad Khan and Ravi Bopara will join the tour as cover for Andrew Flintoff. They now have a nice journey ahead of them having arrived in New Zealand with the Lions squad only a few days ago. New Zealand to West Indies is not a simple journey and it will take them the best part of a day and a half. At least they can clock up the airmiles, and they fly in nice wide seats these days, but it will be a challenge for their body clocks when they arrive in Barbados. And that says nothing of the carbon footprint.
The horse has bolted
It was like trying to get past a stone wall as Shivnarine Chanderpaul blocked his way through another valuable innings. There was barely a sniff of getting him until he fell for 55, but one small chance came when the ball found the inside edge, cannoned into the thigh pad and ballooned to a vacant short-leg area. Steve Harmison stood with hands on hips and Andrew Strauss rued his fielding positions. Next ball the man went in under the helmet, but by now the horse was in a neighbouring paddock.
The afternoon was drifting and England's supporters were becoming restless at the lack of wickets when Stuart Broad made his impression with the new ball. Shortly after Sarwan passed his century he had his off stump uprooted, then Broad stuck again six overs later with the key wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. It was a fabulous spell from Broad, who is maturing rapidly on this tour, and he had the bit between his teeth. In the end it wasn't enough for England, but Broad was again outstanding.
There were two centuries on the final day - Ramnaresh Sarwan and that other consistent performer Extras. He rarely fails to come to the party and his match hundred was raised when four byes scooted past Matt Prior after tea. Most of his runs have been made up of byes, understandable on a surface with uneven bounce, and the wicketkeepers probably won't mind seeing the back of the ARG.
How many around the bat?
As England pushed for that desperate final wicket, all the fielders were in catching positions. There was barely enough room for them, and it's not often Steve Harmison is standing at slip. In what turned out to be the final over Kevin Pietersen was whacked on the finger and had to go off. Ian Bell rushed on, having already taken a catch as a substitute, but only had time to throw on a helmet. Every second counted, but in the end the clock beat England.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?
Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing
Why not you? Read and learn how!