It was a truncated days play in Grenada yesterday, after some very un-Caribbean weather delayed the start of the second Test by nearly two hours.
When the teams did finally get on the pitch, it was all a bit odd. There was swing, there were wickets, there were few runs, but England didn’t really bowl well. Then late in the day there were runs flowing from the Marlon Samuels’ scything blade, but England didn’t really bowl badly.
It is hard to elucidate just why, but it felt like a very peculiar day’s play. On the one hand, captivating and skilled, including some genuine fiery contests between bat and ball, but on the other, the pitch seemed to nullify any proper quick bowling, and the turn that was on offer was sluggish at best.
The one bright spot in the short opening session was the ball that dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite. All too often it is batsman error that leads to their own downfall, a misplaced front foot, a splayed bat, but on this occasion Brathwaite could walk off the pitch with little doubt that he could have done anything more. Jimmy Anderson produced a delivery that would have beaten any batsmen through the history of the game, swinging like a toilet door on curry night and careering into Brathwaite’s leg stump. It appeared as though the Barbadian had gotten himself completely overbalanced and his head outside the line of the ball, but in truth he was defenceless against such skilful bowling.
After the early excitement, proceedings died down for most of the rest of the day. England picked up wickets, more through a combination of false West Indian shots than exceptional bowling. England’s bowling was disciplined however, and both Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan easily out bowled the lacklustre Stuart Broad. The Notts seamer must now fear for his place in the side, despite his hefty reputation. Not a single delivery in his opening spell would have gone on to hit the stumps!
In the evening, Marlon Samuels soaked up the pressure on a docile pitch from some accurate bowling, and then unleashed a counter attack. His partnership with his skipper Dinesh Ramdin is worth 59 overnight, of which Samuels has thus far larruped 51.
West Indies will resume tomorrow on 188/5 and it is difficult to know just what constitutes a good score on this pitch. The average scores for FC matches in Grenada have been hovering around the mid 200’s, so perhaps the West Indies have had a better day than many think.
For England, there will likely be more hard work in the morning as they look to kill of the West Indies lower order. Then the serious business of their reply gets underway. They certainly won’t want to be chasing too much in the fourth innings; their record against spinners is nothing to write home about, and in Devendra Bishoo the hosts have a spinner in red hot form, and with an increasingly helpful pitch.