Six deliveries from today at the Test – Edgbaston Day 3
Stumps: West Indies 280-8
Lizzy Ammon at Edgbaston
The fact we got all full day’s play and the pitch and outfield were so good is something of a tale in itself. Edgbaston had more than 60mm of rain in the 60 hours before 10am this morning. Head Groundsman Gary Barwell and his team have worked round the clock – genuinely round the clock – to try and keep the pitch in a state that would mean cricket was possible as soon as it was dry. It is an excellent pitch and it’s going to be hard to force a win. Hard but by no means impossible.
A raucous and seemingly very thirsty 17,000 strong crowd provided an atmosphere that had you closed your eyes you would have thought was a full house despite it being 5k short of capacity.
Fancy Dress watch: Beefeaters, Pirates, Tigers, several Queens (of the Royal variety), Freddie Mercuries complete with inflatable hoovers, fishermen in handy sowesters. Good effort Birmingham
The subject of player rotation has got a few hot under the collar. “The public haven’t paid their money to see second string”. “The paying public are being cheated”.
The paying public were treated not cheated (I nicked that phrase from Mark at Eurosport but he doesn’t mind). Onions, Finn and Bresnan doesn’t constitute a “reserve” list. They’d get in almost any England side in the last 20 years. It’s not a great time to be a fast bowler but what a fantastic situation for us to be in that should Broad or Anderson or both break down before or during the SA series we have three bowlers (maybe more) who could slot straight in.
It is uncharacteristically England (or at least Flower’s England) to drop catches. But 3 went down (plus a kind of half chance). Rikki Clarke wouldn’t have dropped them – that’s all I’m saying. Ok I’m not being serious. Whilst the bowling unit without Anderson has functioned very well, he is missed in the slips. It was a touch like my knitting skills. Knit one, drop one. Those dropped catches disrupted an otherwise pretty good day. One wonders whether it might have been better to have Trott in at 3rd slip rather than Bell. Strauss has had better captaining days, he didn’t always move fielders where they might have been to force shots especially after the second new ball. It wasn’t by any means mistake ridden captaincy but he’s had better days.
The West Indian batsmen have come in for a good deal of criticism this series but today they displayed proper technique, driving and cutting beautifully with open faced bats and correctly moving feet.
Undoubtedly the best to watch today though was Marlon Samuels – not just because his driving was exquisite but his attitude in the little “friendly” exchange with Onions showed fight and aggression and a little twinkle that makes him entertaining.
After the match he mentioned Onions – “He has a few things to say. Give me back Jimmy Anderson. I don’t like Onions, I don’t use them in my food”.
He’s a dude.
I almost welled up a little in the post match press conference. Graham Onions talked with emotion and clear pride to be playing for his country again.
“It was without a doubt a special day today. A couple of years ago obviously I genuinely didn’t think I was ever going to play cricket again which makes today even more special. Today when I put that shirt and cap on as well as adding to the nerves felt so specia. I really enjoyed it. Really really enjoyed it. It was a like second debut.”
And he should be very pleased with his performance. Onions record at Edgbaston is staggeringly good, it is clearly a ground he enjoys. Today, he bowled an excellent line, very close to the stumps and as he points out himself he’s not the tallest bowler so backs himself to hit the stumps. It’s not just the line and length though, he was bowling with aggression and giving some “friendly” chirps to the batsmen. In another time this man would have been in ink on the team sheet.
A word for Matt Prior. Wicket Keepers really don’t get written about that much unless they’ve had a nightmare. Today was difficult for Prior, he was clearly struggling with his eye infection (question whether he should have been playing) and there was a great deal of wobble, especially off Onions. Wobble is a wicket keeper’s nightmare. But he kept incredibly solidly, no one is talking about his keeping so it must have been a good day for him. We know what he can do with the bat and many think he should be pushed up to number 6 in the batting order but his keeping has improved immeasurably over the last 2 years or so. He’s a genuinely good keeper rather than just the best batsmen out of the county wicket keepers (which is sometimes the criterion).