West Indies v England, 5th Test, Trinidad, 1st day

Seizing up when it matters

Andrew McGlashan in Trinidad

March 6, 2009

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Owais Shah struggled with his fluency before his fingers cramped up to force his retirement © AFP
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Cricket stands together
Shortly before play both teams and all the officials lined up in front of the pavilion (which a few moments later was unveiled under Brian Lara's name) and observed a minutes' silence following the events in Lahore earlier this week. The cricket family is small and tightly knit and a number of players here know the Sri Lankans very well. Phone calls and texts have been exchanged in recent days as everyone tried to comprehend what happened. The ground stood in respect, hoping that the scenes in Lahore will never be seen again.

Shah off mark
Owais Shah always comes across a bundle of nervous energy at the crease. He has a host of mannerisms which he goes through before taking strike and appears tense in the middle. Nerves are not helped went it takes a while to start scoring and Shah was so eager to open his account that after 20 balls he set off for a scampered single into the leg side. He was safe enough, but the man at the other end - his captain, Andrew Strauss - wasn't. The throw missed Strauss's stumps to the relief of Shah because running out your captain isn't the best way to ensure a long stay in the team.

Six before lunch
West Indies were very short on frontline bowling options after leaving out Sulieman Benn alongside the injured Jerome Taylor so Chris Gayle had to shuffle what he had left. Brendan Nash, who hardly bowled before settling in the Caribbean, was introduced as the fourth seamer and before lunch Ryan Hinds became the sixth bowler used in 28 overs. But whoever had the ball the end result was clear: it was going to be hard work for everyone.

Shah seizes up
It was hot work in the middle, but no one felt it more than Shah. After making his way to 29 off 115 balls his hands started to cramp up. It wasn't the first time in his short Test career that this had happened, his debut innings off 88 against India in Mumbai was interrupted by an attack that meant he had to leave for treatment. And on this occasion it was also too severe for him to continue despite Kirk Russell, the physio, trying to get his hands back in working order. Shah grips the bat extreme tightly, something that he has always done, and that plays a part in his problem.

Poor Brendan
One moment you think you have trapped one of the world's best batsman lbw only for the wicket to be taken away from you. Nash, a part-time bowler at best, thought he'd made the vital breakthrough when Russell Tiffin's finger went up for an lbw shout against Pietersen's third ball. However, it only took one replay to confirm it had pitched outside leg and the appeal was null and void. But hold on. Nothing, it seems, runs that smoothly in this series. The communication equipment between the on-field and TV umpire, Aleem Dar, broke and Dar had to appear on the balcony to signal the decision. There's nothing like modern technology.

The ball before
Hinds has become West Indies' premier left-arm spinner in this match with the omission of Benn and he produced a piece of bowling to make the breed proud. First of all he beat Pietersen with a ripping delivery that spun past the outside edge as it disturbed the surface. Next delivery, sensing that Pietersen would be playing for the turn, Hinds sent down the perfect arm ball that held its line and drifted between bat and pad to knock back middle stump. Hinds sprinted off in excitement, before sliding on his back and enjoying an unusual celebration that seemed to involve patting his stomach. For Pietersen it continued his problems against part-time left-arm spinners after his battles against Yuvraj Singh in India.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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