What a Test match that was. Although it wasn’t the ideal result from my one-eyed English point of view, the match itself was still alive as a contest right down until the final over of the fifth day. In terms of Test match viewing, it is hard to demand more than that.
I shan’t elaborate in any great detail on any of my thoughts on England performances today, but be sure I will be turning my attention to some sort of post mortem over the next few days.
Aside from witnessing an absorbing Test match, it was also a privilege to be present when James Anderson went past Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383 Test wickets, to make him the highest Test wicket taker for England. The delivery to West Indies skipper Dinesh Ramdin was a beauty, and the ensuing celebrations showed how much the wickets meant to Anderson and his family.
While his virtues as bowler, and his right to called a ‘great’ could be considered up for debate. What can’t be debated is his dedication to England over the last decade. Today he was not at his best, nor was he in the first innings, but never did he err from giving 100%. I’m sure all the players are always giving it their all, but Anderson makes that clearer than others in the way he carries himself.
The conclusion of this Test match also means it’s coming to the end of my time in the Caribbean. With our flight back home tomorrow, via Barbados for a few hours, it seems like a good time to draw some conclusions about my time here.
Firstly, in my experience of Barbados and Antigua, this part of the world really is a beautiful as the postcards make it seem. Especially if you look in the right places, and thankfully with our two excellent guides in both islands, we were able to see some fantastic sights.
Also, it has become clear to me, that some of the stereotypes are actually pretty true. People do seem to take things at a slower pace here, car horns are often sounded, but only in recognition of another motorist letting you out from a junction, or if you spot someone you know. The vast majority of locals I have met and spoken to, have been friendly, laidback, and genuinely interested in my reasons for visiting.
Talk often turns to cricket, as you might expect. As I’m sure a lot of you will be aware, there has been plenty of talk of cricket dying out here in the West Indies. Well, I’m pleased to report, that if what I’ve seen can be representative, love for cricket is alive and well in these islands. I have seen kids playing cricket at the side of roads, at sports fields, even in the road itself. Today’s ticket price was reduced to $10 in local currency (about £2.50), and as the day wore on, the locals turned up in their hundreds. Love for Test cricket still exists here, and whilst they are rooted in, and in some respects strangled, by their illustrious history, there does seem to be a genuine sense of pride in Ramdin’s young side. Although, I would loath to say it, a series victory for the West Indies over the next two Tests would do them, and cricket as a whole, the world of good.
For now, it’s bed, an early start, and a long old journey home. But this trip has been fantastic, and I would say to anybody ever considering coming out here, whether it be for the cricket or not, to do so.