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March 9, 2009
A touch of DIY
Stuart Broad was a fed up young man yesterday evening when he called the pitches in this series "terrible" and his mood didn't improve on the fourth day as he had problems with the foot holes. He kicked at them, but quickly had some help as one of the groundstaff ran on with a section of two-by-four and a hammer. Some impressive pounding followed, although it didn't seem to make much impression on a rock-hard surface. Or Broad's mood.
Broad got more and more frustrated. He tried to mix things up, but the tipping point for him was when a bouncer to Brendan Nash was called wide by Daryl Harper. Broad, a feisty competitor at the best of times, couldn't bite his tongue and had a few words to say about it. At the end of the over he was less than impressed as he took his cap from Harper, who had a few words about calming down, so much so that Andrew Strauss was called in. The captain took his bowler away, gave him a pat on the back and promptly removed him from the attack.
Nash's nervous nineties
The most composed of batsmen can become a quivering wreck as a hundred approaches, especially when it is his first one in Tests. Nash was a model of calmness right up to the point of his landmark, then had problems even laying bat on ball. A fine spell of reverse swing from James Anderson had him fishing outside off stump, then another delivery jagged back into his pads. Then Nash lost the strike as Shivnarine Chanderpaul blocked out a maiden, but eventually the moment arrived as he tucked a brace into the leg side off Monty Panesar and the relief was clear. That journey from Queensland was worth it.
Chanderpaul couldn't be shifted from the crease, even when the umpire gave him out. The over after Nash departed, Graeme Swann ripped a delivery at Chanderpaul who played forward and was caught behind. England were convinced and so was Harper, but not the batsman. He called for a referral and after some lengthy viewings Aleem Dar said there was conclusive evidence he hadn't nicked it. Trying telling that to the England bowlers.
Many a worthy spell in Test cricket has gone unrewarded and Anderson's efforts in this game must be well up there. His morning burst to Nash was superb, but it was his afternoon stint of constant reverse swing that was especially commendable. Ball after ball scooted past the edge, deliveries were edged through the slips and leg-before appeals turned down. Anderson looked as though he'd had enough of it all, then with the last delivery before tea finally got his first wicket when he trapped Denesh Ramdin in front. However, he didn't have any energy left to celebrate properly.
Two records missed
The chance to beat a record doesn't come along very often and England missed two opportunities when West Indies were bowled out for 544. But they are the kind that aren't too bad to miss out on. Matt Prior ended with the second-highest number of byes conceded by a wicketkeeper, 35, two behind the 37 held by Frank Woolley who was standing in for Les Ames in 1934, against Australia, at The Oval. And the team were three short of setting a new record for the total number of extras, instead settling for second place in the end on 74.
A wicket on one leg
Chris Gayle leads from the front. He limped out to bat with a runner, but more notable was the fact he led his team onto the field and then brought himself on for the fifth over of the innings. That wasn't all, though, as he tempted Strauss into a loose drive and snaffled the return catch. He is desperate to play a leading part in a West Indies series win and nothing, not even a pulled hamstring, is going to stop him.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?