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West Indies show progress but England take control

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Tom Fordyce | 18:49 UK time, Monday, 21 May 2012

If it started with a snick and smear and sense of panic in the murky Lord's air, it ended a few hours later in entirely contrasting fashion - runs flowing, sun shining, batsmen coasting.

England's five-wicket win on Monday afternoon might have been the result that all wise men predicted. But the way they got there has filled weary West Indian hearts with rather more optimism than most expected, and simultaneously shone a light on how this England team hope to fulfil their stated desire to become the best their country has yet produced.

When Kevin Pietersen was caught behind to reduce England to 57-4 with shine still on the ball and 134 more runs needed, thoughts went back to another Lord's run-chase, 12 years ago, when England needed just 188 to beat the same opponents and teetered on the brink several times before wriggling home by two wickets.

This is a more anodyne West Indian side, and England's more comfortable escape must be seen in that context. The pitch this week has been as true as a surveyor's sextant and as full of fright as an episode of Balamory.

Alastair Cook at Lord's

Alastair Cook "shut the barn door", according to West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards. Photo: Getty

But clattering wickets and final-day deficits bring their own pressures. Where heroics were needed back then from number eight Dominic Cork, here Alastair Cook and Ian Bell first stilled the alarm bells and then took control in such unhurried fashion that fright became formality almost before deja met vu.

"Cook, at the top of the order, shut the barn door," says Sir Viv Richards, who as a batsman was rather more about blowing doors clean off.

"It wasn't a negative approach. All the body language was good. Bell came in and was positive as can be, and neither he nor Cook allowed the pressure of the situation to affect the way they played."

Cook eventually fell with just two runs required. But his unflustered 79, and Bell's complementary 63 not out, had steered England from crisis to total control.

"Cook may not be the prettiest left-hander on this earth," says Richards. "Certainly he's not as stylish as a David Gower. But in terms of getting the job done he is marvellous.

"I've watched Bell for a number of series now, and for me he is England's best technical batsman. There's nobody in the team as technically organised as him, nor as fluent in his strokeplay.

"He has come on leaps and bounds. To have a guy coming in at five with his level of batsmanship, with 16 Test centuries to his name, is huge, and the way he now plays means England's middle order is much harder to dislodge than for many years.

"Experience plays a huge part in tight matches like this, and England's collective know-how was a big factor in their win.

"Cook, from his heroics over the past few years, knows how to make sure his team get across the line. They took the quick singles, rotated the strike and made sure they turned ones into twos."

England captain Andrew Strauss reserved his greatest praise for Stuart Broad, whose 11 wickets in the match did so much to create the opportunity Cook and Bell took with such elan.

In his last nine Test matches, Broad has taken 51 wickets at an average of 17, a run now looking less like a golden patch and more like permanence.

With a batting average over the same period of 33, he fulfils the purist's statistical measure of a true Test all-rounder, yet he comes in at eight. While Cork's merry biffing a decade ago will always be remembered fondly, England now have a strength in depth that generally renders such desperate measures unnecessary.

Strauss claimed afterwards, with some justification, that the new-ball partnership of Broad and Jimmy Anderson is as potent as any in the world.

By contrast, it was the West Indies' lack of a similarly strong partner for the impressive Kemar Roach that aided England's escape from 57-4.

"There's a two-card trick that teams need to play in situations like that," says Richards. "When you look at someone like Roach, who in my opinion is as quick as anyone today, you need support.

"But at the moment he is the only one. You need to be able to enforce sustained pressure, with guys at the other end producing the same aggressive stuff.

"England are too wily and experienced a team to be beaten otherwise. They knew that if they saw off Kemar then the guys at the other end wouldn't be coming at them as hard.

"When you're only defending a total of 191 it's vital that you get your wickets from both ends. That's what creates the pressure."

That the West Indies had a chance at all should give their beleaguered supporters great hope.

They are still nowhere near the finished article. They remain a rough draft, lacking depth and Test experience and denied by politics and pound signs at least two of their best players.

Yet even without stellar talents like Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, they found fight and resolve where recent touring teams have fallen away.

"There were a lot of media guys who had checked out of their hotels, who had started booking tee times on golf courses for Monday," points out Richards. "Credit must be given to the West Indies for dragging it out that long.

"Every time you have a Test match that gets close, then the 'if' factor comes into play - what if Trott had been given out on Sunday night, what if we had taken other chances earlier.

"The 'if' factor doesn't take away the fact we still lost again. But it was a spirited effort, and if I was one of the guys in the dressing room then I would feel I had a chance going into the next Test.

"This team can get better. They can learn from their mistakes and misfortunes, and if they can put all their collective positives together, they can develop into a good unit.

"A lot of folks wouldn't have expected this could go into a fifth day. There were a few missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, but if the West Indies can find them then they can go that one step further.

"They can leave Lord's knowing that they put up a good show here."


  • Comment number 1.

    Real good test match - West Indies kept it interesting right up until lunch on the final day, but gave away too many runs during today's sessions. If there were a few more maiden overs bowled, and they kept their line and length sharp, then I think there would have been a bit more panic shown from the England batsmen. As it was, Cook and Bell knew as long as their wicket wasn't going to fall during the run chase, then it was going to become comfortable in the end.
    Don't agree with Jonathan Agnew regarding England banishing the memories of Abu Dhabi - Sri Lanka and Pakistan play so differently to the W.I.s, and this series is not going to prove that England can play spin. You pretty much know what you're going to get with West Indies - two/three guys capable of tearing in and bowling loose deliveries more often than not, and a couple of medium pacers who will try (and very rarely succeed) to contain the batsmen. What England encountered against Sri Lanka and Pakistan was a phobia against spin bowling. Them winning the first test match (and maybe the series) is not going to banish the poor display that took place abroad not that long ago.

  • Comment number 2.

    Viv Richards is right but don't forget it's likely the West Indies will have Brazil and Uruguay making up their team too if that goes through. They will still be called West Indies apparently but suddenly have millions more to choose from. I heard an ex Windies player say it s a disgrace and another say it's going to be great.

    Only time will tell.

  • Comment number 3.

    The west indies impressed me this test. Despite the run outs, the occasional bad dismisal, and the inability to contain the england batsmen today, they showed some real fight and played their hearts out. A couple of of the batsmen showed real promise, and Gabriel bowled well on his debut. There are still a couple of players who seem to be out of their depth in swing conditions, but a massive improvement on 2009.

    This team full of inexperienced, not as talented players did far better than the indian team who were here last year who are supposed to be one of the best in the world. Signs of encouragement for them.

  • Comment number 4.

    Fallacious comparison of the week award goes to comment number 3.

    You can't compare the failure of the Indian cricket team last summer to this West Indies battle. You just can't.

    Why did India fail in England last summer?

    They didn't prepare enough, they had poor leadership and they were never motivated throughout the test matches because they only perform on flat tracks.

    Why did West Indies not beat England this weekend?

    Inexperienced bowlers who couldn't contain the English batsmen. A sign of their inexperience was that they couldn't pressure Andrew Strauss into making a mistake during his first innings. Strauss isn't a good batsman any more. Their batting line up was also too unskilled. They rely upon Chanderpaul to anchor their innings. That's fine but at number 5? It means that on the whole, numbers 1,2,3 and 4 all generally failed by time they managed to anchor down their innings which is their scores were not as good as England's score.

    India's problem was lack of practice and motivation (also a few were overweight to be frank).

    West Indie's problem was lack of skill and a poor strategical batting order. Chanderpaul must learn how to open the batting if he wants to become the anchor (or at least become the number 3).

  • Comment number 5.

    The assumption that Chanderpaul can score as many runs at three or four as he does at five is patently false. Look at the likes of Bell and Pieterson who have been moved around the order and they have wildly different averages depending on where they bat.

    Chanderpaul is showing strength and knowledge of his own personal skills in refusing to bow to the demands of many ex players who seem to think that simply moving him around can save West Indies cricket. Maybe if these experts stopped all their internal bickering and used all their expertise for the benefit of Windies cricket as a whole then they'd be able to produce genuine batsmen who can bat in their correct positions.

  • Comment number 6.

    World cricket will be a happier place with a strong West Indian team challenging for a higher spot up the rankings. Let's hope they are now, finally, starting to move in the right direction. The Aussies were mightily relieved to beat them, and although England cantered home in the end, we were mightily relieved too!!
    What a shame Gayle and Sarwan aren't playing.

  • Comment number 7.

    A very good Test match and a promising start to a summer of international cricket. Ottis Gibson and Darren Sammy deserve a lot of credit for instilling steel and a sense of camaradie into a developing side. If only they could add Gayle, Sarwan and the unknown quantity (at Test level at least) of mystery spinner Sunil Narine. Then there's Dwayne Bravo, Pollard and Andre Russell to consider as well. The makings of a decent side is definitely there if the WICB can get its act together - unfortunately that is a big 'if'.

    England weren't at their best as a collective, but a bit of rustiness at the start of the summer is hardly a surprise and at least the captain has finally got that elusive hundred. I'd like to see Finn come in for Bresnan at Trent Bridge, but expect the selectors to keep the same XI.

    For anyone that is interested, here our marks out of ten for
    England, and;
    West Indies

  • Comment number 8.

    I would have thought the WIs had less experience on English conditions than last years abysmal performance from India!
    Overall I was impressed with their match given that a visiting side always has difficulties to start with.
    Clearly the Windies are well lead and made the creaky Indian bunch look like a bunch of has-beens and never really will bes any-more unless the track is dead or dusty.

  • Comment number 9.

    maybe with the acception of Tendulkar but even he seemed a bit long in the tooth.

  • Comment number 10.

    "When you're only defending a total of 191 it's vital that you get your wickets from both ends. That's what creates the pressure." Not true - Headingley 1981 proves otherwise. Just because its said by a legend, doesnt mean it is correct.

  • Comment number 11.

    A good solid performance from england and a brave fight from the west indies. Enjoyed Strauss's comment about anderson and broad now being as potent as any opening attack in test cricket. They are definitely one of the better attacks around...but Strauss and his batting colleagues can look look forward to seeing the world's top fast bowler dale steyn, vern philander (who has got 51 wickets in his last 7 tests, compared to Broad's haul of 51 in 9 tests),morne morkel (who has just finnished as the leading wicket taker in IPL, bowling to the world's best batsman week in and week out) as well as the evergreen jacques kallis visting English grounds in a few months time. It is going to be good to watch and will be interesting to see which attack comes out with bragging rights at the end of the series...

  • Comment number 12.

    Idiotic comment of the week award goes to #4. What the he'll is a 'fallacious comparison'. Anything can be compared to anything. Post no.3 simply highlights a virtue of the current touring side which last year's lacked. Don't see the point of sarcasm especially when it's as misplaced as yours.

  • Comment number 13.

    'vern philander (who has got 51 wickets in his last 7 tests, compared to Broad's haul of 51 in 9 tests),morne morkel (who has just finnished as the leading wicket taker in IPL, bowling to the world's best batsman week in and week out)'

    Sorry, but 'vern' has been bowling at the Kiwis and SL in SA. Hardly a stern test.

    Leading wicket taker in the IPL? The worlds best batsmen week in week out? Are you serious? One or two stars in each side and the remainder are second rate county standard sloggers. If being a star in the IPL is a yardstick of Test success, then India would be a hell of a lot better in the Test arena than they currently are. No coincidence that India have seen their Test form plummet since the IPL's inception.

    I remember when SA last came here, and Steyn was hyped up as the top dog, and was largely anonymous.

    I find it much better to heap on the praise after the players have actually performed in a series, not before.

    Back on topic, I was very impresses with the Windies spirit and fight. Looking forward to 2 more entertaining Tests.

  • Comment number 14.

    #10 Sorry Richards is right here although Willis got 8 wickets the bowlers at the other end added pressure which is what Richards was talking about:
    Botham 7 overs 1-14
    Old 9 overs 1-21
    Willey 3 overs 0-4
    Willis 15 overs 8-43.

    Willis got the wickets but the bowlers at the other end didn't let the batsmen have easy runs. That didn't happen yesterday Roach bowled well but the English batsmen knew they could get the runs elsewhere

  • Comment number 15.

    What was that about Strauss, again? Back in form? Why does England still get wobbly legs in the middle session when they should be sealing the win? I'm not too sure anything has changed. With respect to WI, if this was a harder challenge I think England would have been left exposed and asking why we wouldn't win etc

  • Comment number 16.

    broad bats at 9

  • Comment number 17.

    A good game in the end. The Windies weren't quite the pushover that some predicted and it was great to see some of the young talent on display in the team. All played in a great spirit too!

    Therein lies the difference to last summer. The Indian team (not unlike Australia) had become old with key players in their late 30s. That's taking nothing away from the likes of Dhoni and Dravid who are great sportsmen but you can't hold back time forever. As a team, they looked a bit tired and complacent, plus their technique, once so matchless, was simply wrecked by IPL "Hit'n Hope" games (when a sport is so palpably rigged and the contest between bat and ball unbalanced, it's hardly surprising that batsmen then fail at test level...see K. Pietersen for details!)

    Chanderpaul is a real handful. It's great seeing someone with an unorthodox, but legal technique in the game (so different from the winter experience of watching bowling that would be no-balled at county level but we have to bite our lip and pretend that it isn't happening). Ironically he would have been screened out at District level in England by a coaching regime designed to produce identikit players. The technique must also have weaknesses and I'm sure (I hope) that England's bowlers and backroom team are working around the clock to undo him.

    Let's hope that the West Indies go on developing and turn this into a thrilling and challenging test series.

  • Comment number 18.

    Have to agree with #11 (though I don't like the term "bragging rights", why so aggressive?) and #12 regarding #4. I think most people are getting tired of his brand of cyber-bullying, particularly when he says very little when at least trying to be constructive. "Inexperienced bowlers who couldn't contain the English batsmen" and "Their batting line up was also too unskilled". No, you don't say! Maybe that's why they lost then?
    WI put up a decent fight against Oz last time out, hopefully they can continue to improve and make this an entertaining series. England need to be tested before they meet SA.

  • Comment number 19.

    #14 - well said. "#10 Sorry Richards is right here although Willis got 8 wickets the bowlers at the other end added pressure which is what Richards was talking about:"

    #10 - Its annoying for us pedants but most sportsmen when summarising say things like "its essential they do this" when they mean "they're unlikely to win if they don't do this". Sadly, few summarisers are articulate or quick-thinking enough to say exactly what they mean when they're put on the spot (just ask Gary Neville) - they just trot out some cliche to avoid an embarrassing silence and we have to translate what their point might actually have been...

  • Comment number 20.

    #19 - To be fair to Richards I'm fairly sure on a number of occaisions on TMS yesterday he pointed out that the problem was there was no one to help Roache apply pressure to the English batsman. Personally I really like Richards as the expert summariser especially when he is on TMS with Blowers, they make a great double act, athough I'm not sure Richards understands what Blowers is on about half the time :)

  • Comment number 21.

    England start to choke and twitch when under pressure. Until they can develop the confidence and swagger of the old Viv Richards and Co or the recent Aussie sides then they will not be clear number ones.

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 21: But that statement is contradicted by their 2nd inns batting performance. They had a mini collapse, but recovered and won.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ 21: But that statement is contradicted by their 2nd inns batting performance. They had a mini collapse, recovered and won the game by a comfortable margin.

    If they were chokers, they would not have gotten to the line so easily (or at all) in the end.

  • Comment number 24.

    Damn I didn't mean to post #22.....

  • Comment number 25.

    HMMurdoch: Steyn was injured for much of the 2008 series. Hes been world no.1 by some distance for over two years now and his overall record is far far better than Anderson or Broad. a sr of 40 and average just over 23 compared to Anderson's averages 30 with a sr of 57. No real comparison. Steyn is a different class. As for Philander please get your facts right. he also got wickets against Australia

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 25: Steyn was leaking runs before his injury if memory serves me. Australia are not the force in tests they once were, and he's only played away from home vs NZ, who are also not anywhere near the top teams currently.

    If he can take wickets in SL and UAE they way Anderson and Broad have just done, then we can talk about how great he is.

  • Comment number 27.

    We can get away with a mini collapse against the Windies, i'm not sure we can afford to do it later on in the summer against South Africa.

  • Comment number 28.

    Gayle, Sarwan, Andre Russell, Keiron Pollard, Narine, Rampole...makes you wonder how close the match would have been if they were all playing !

  • Comment number 29.

    Australia are still pretty close to getting the no.1 spot back off England. Yes its early days for Philander. My only disagreement with you is over Steyn who has proved over a long period of time that hes a true great. Anderson has done well in the last couple of seasons but you judge a player over his whole career not bits of it.

    The win is ok but not as emphatic as you would expect against a pretty poor windies side. Chanderpaul is rightly the no.1 batsman in the world and Roach is good but you wouldn't expect them to challenge England. The real challenge comes against South Africa. The sides match up pretty well. Perhaps England have a more solid opening pair. Both sides have their problems with a no.6 batsman. England have the longer tail. The bowling i would just give South Africa the edge particularly if England persist with Bresnan over Finn. Swann vs Tahir will be interesting.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 29: 'England have the longer tail'. Really?

    Swann batted at 10 in the last test. Test high of 85 Ave 22, First Class high of 183, ave 25.

    You would give the bowling to SA? After the starting players, who could step up and match them? Look at the bowlers not playing in the last Test for England: Onions, Finn, Tremlett, Monty. There are Test sides out there that would very much like that as their first choice attack.

  • Comment number 31.

    @29 England have the longer tail??? Really, I haven't looked at the stats to back this up, but I would have thought a tail of Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson would be the best tail in world cricket. I would certainly rate it above South Africa's which presumably will be Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir.

    I am really looking forward to watching Philander bowl he looks an excellent bowler and it will be interesting to see how he compares to Anderson and Broad.

  • Comment number 32.

    sorry that was a mistake. I meant England bat further down.

    I'm not talking about the bowlers who wont be in the starting eleven. I'm just saying that a bowling attack consisting of Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Tahir and Kallis pips
    Anderson, Broad, Bresnan, Swann and Trott.

    Steyn > Anderson
    Broad > Morkel
    Philander > Bresnan
    Swann > Tahir
    Kallis > Trott

    so 3-2 on my reckoning

  • Comment number 33.

    I know that all Cricket Fans (or at leats 97.6% of them) love statistics but I do not think that you can simply compare Anderson and Steyn's average and say Steyn is the better bowler. I think you have to take into account the long period of his career when the coaching set up tried to remodel Jimmy's action which catastrophic effects on his form and confidence. In fact I don't think it was that long ago that his average was around 35. The 2012 verison of Jimmy is clearly a different proposition to that of a few years ago.

    That said I am undecided on who the better bowler is. This is wht the SA series will be so intriguing there are so many match ups all over the park and few areas where either team have a clear advantage. To my mind the only two area I could pick out are; Kallis - we clearly don't have an allrounder of this class and Swann - I think he is a far superior bolwer to Tahir, not to mention that Tahir doesn't know which end of the bat to hold and Swann is ver handy down the order.

  • Comment number 34.

    So what you are saying 33 is that lets judge a bowler over his best period not over his whole career. Other than stats where the margin of difference is massive. Who is still ranked no.1 bowler in the world. Steyn has proved he can take wickets in any conditions.

    He swings it both ways which Anderson can do. He's quicker than Anderson and hes skiddier.

    I dont even know how Anderson can be compared to Steyn. Anderson is a very good bowler. Steyn is up there with the greats of all time.

  • Comment number 35.

    On Philander, I've been less than impressed with him at Somerset surely someone with his Test record should be wiping the floor with County top order batsmen in superb bowling conditions. He simply hasn't been so I will wait and see come the Test series. I'm half expecting this to be Mitchell Johnson Mk. II.

    To whoever said KP has lost it in terms of batting capability since the IPL clearly needs to look at his record in recent's like having a go at Bell for past mistake. The only player I'd seriously question still currently is Strauss.

    On the Steyn/Anderson debate. Steyn has clearly had the better career you can't argue that and will be remembered probably in higher regard than Anderson. However in recent years they've been about equal. So I would say while Steyn historically will be remembered as the better bowler this Summer they'll be barely daylight between them.

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 No that is not what I am saying. Yes Steyn has had a better career than Anderson so far. That does not mean he is currently the better bowler. And I agree if both retired now you would have to rate Steyn above Anderson in terms of what they have done. But Anderson has improved grealty as a bowler and I do not think there is much between them now.

    My analysis would be:

    Steyn is slightly quicker and has a better short ball.

    Whilst Steyn can move it both ways I think Anderson does it with greater control. I also think Anderson utilises reverse swing better.

  • Comment number 37.

    Last 20 Tests:
    Dale Steyn 100 wickets at 21.84
    James Anderson 85 wickets at 25.69

    Much as I'd wanted Anderson to have the better record (go English bias), Steyn has the better record.

    Quirky stat: Both players have conceded 2184 runs in their last 20 tests.

  • Comment number 38.

    @37 you can't really compare it terms of numbers of Tests, SA play far less than England do.

    Here's something tom posted just the other week...

    "For the statistical record, it's a close thing. Since the beginning of 2007, Steyn has 240 Test wickets at an average of 21, Anderson 214 at 28. Since the start of 2010, Anderson has those 110 wickets at 21 to Steyn's 100 wickets at 21."

  • Comment number 39.

    All the stats prove Steyn better and then even the last 20 tests are argued with.
    Bjorntorekvarme-leg-end: Steyn has always had wonderful control so I wouldn't agree with you on that and Steyn is also very good exponent of reverse swing.

    At the current moment its closer but look at the icc rankings - Theres over 100 point difference between them.

    That takes into account the opposition you play against as well. Steyn has been no.1 for years. As England supporters we have to acknowledge other players other than our own sometimes.

    Someone pointed out Philander hasn't turned up any trees in county cricket but nobody does even Anderson doesn't perform that well for Lancashire.

  • Comment number 40.

    Personally, I think Philander is nearer in bowling style to Jimmy than Steyn. However, given that we're playing in England (and English conditions) I think comparing records in this country is more relevant and I bet no one has a better record in this country!

  • Comment number 41.

    You can't really do that though can you RememberScarborough being as Philander has never played a test series in this country and Steyn I think has only played one. I do remember Steyn at Warwickshire in 2007 before he made his name in test cricket and he was really good then.

  • Comment number 42.

    Just to point out that Vern only played five four-day matches for Somerset, but claimed 23 wickets at a tidy 21.34, including two five-wicket hauls. So his little English venture wasn't totally unproductive.. also gave him a taste of English conditions and some overs with the duke ball, so he should be ready to go come the test series.

    What people tend to forget is that one of the reasons why vern has been so successful in test cricket is that he has had 2 of the best fast bowlers around, in steyn and morkel, bowling at the other end. Batsmen get lulled into thinking they have to try and score of him, and invariably end up paying the price...

  • Comment number 43.

    Getting back to the topic (West Indies show progress), I see that Shannon Gabriel has been sent home because of the injury he picked up yesterday, he is being replaced by Tino Best. That's a pity for the Windies I thought that Gabriel was one of the big positives to come out of the test for the them

  • Comment number 44.

    'Mind them windows Tino.'

  • Comment number 45.

    @42 Joburg

    His second 5 wicket hall was more mopping up tail enders. He really hasn't impressed and apart from the 1st match never produced a match winning spell and on two occasions when Somerset were in a winning position. The stats flatter to deceive.

  • Comment number 46.

    yes ncurd but i bet he does a lot better in the tests. Hes been used to bowling in warm conditions. He comes over here in April/ May and its freezing. So you can't jusge him on his performances for Somerset.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sorry Paul C, it's been brilliant bowling conditions and he should be performing as an international class bowler. It's too cold is a pathetic excuse.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 46: So how do you explain how the England bowlers coped with the heat in the UAE and humidity in SL?

    You can't use that as an excuse. If he takes lots of wickets vs England then you can sing his praises, until then he is untested in English conditions at Test level.

  • Comment number 49.

    @46 Paul C, this is England it will probably still be freezing in July / August, he'll have to get used to it

  • Comment number 50.

    If I were a West Indian it would rankle to be given a pat on the back and a 'well done for putting up a fight' after losing.

    Steyn is clearly better than Anderson but Anderson has better support. Having said that Morkel appears very difficult to face.

  • Comment number 51.

    Anderson v Steyn
    It is not just the number of wickets but who the wickets were. Stats show that whilst Steyn can boast 23% of his wickets coming from inverted batsmen or "de rupiea" team members, Anderson's figure is above that at 26.3%.

  • Comment number 52.

    Paul C - I agree Steyn does have good control and is a good exponent of reverse swing. I just think that Jimmy is marginally better at this part of the game.

    Frankly I would be delighted to have either of them in my side. As I said earlier I am not sure which I would say is the better bowler. I just do not agree that Steyn's is as far ahead as your suggesting. I also think that there is an over reliance on stats when making this comparisons. Stats aren't always everything, for one just look at Michael Vaughan's first class record before he played test cricket.

  • Comment number 53.

    #27 Every team has a collapse at some point or other and South Africa have definitely had their fair share recently. As have Australia. The key is how we recover from it, whether in that innings, or the next, or even the next match, and we've show much greater resilience in that area (except for during the winter of course).

    Regarding Steyn, I'd say he has the edge over Anderson because of his pace and a more intimidating presence. Morkel is a bit of an enigma. Can be destructive but often bowls too short, in the way that Broad used to. Philander's had an excellent start, but he won't be a surprise package any more and I bet the England management have done a fair bit of analysis on him. Plenty of bowlers have burst onto the scene only to fade quickly away, due to pressure, injuries, or having been 'worked out'. Jury's still out.

    As for this series, this game will have done us good. Reminds us not to take the series lightly, and we should improve from here. Not sure the West Indies can, though.

  • Comment number 54.

    "There are lies, damned lies and statistics". Many stats flying about in these posts, you can read into them exactly what you want to read but what is clear is that the best 2 bowling attacks in the world are up against each other. Kallis gives SA one bowling edge as a true, world-class all-rounder but Swann/Panesar may help to redress the balance, depending on the weather and pitches. England bat deeper but I think that for both sides, against these bowling attacks, those at the top of the respective orders will be the key. Looking forward to it.
    PS any chance of a Flintoff return just for the next game against Tino "mind them windows" Best? One of THE champagne moments of all time.

  • Comment number 55.

    #17 "was simply wrecked by IPL "Hit'n Hope" games (when a sport is so palpably rigged and the contest between bat and ball unbalanced, it's hardly surprising that batsmen then fail at test level...see K. Pietersen for details!)"

    KP was man of the match in the last Test against Sri Lanka. He also averaged over 70 last year with a couple of double hundreds and a big daddy 100. What was your point again?

  • Comment number 56.

    Maybe we're not as good as we think we are, and West Indies are better that we thought they were, but it confirms, surely, that Test Cricket is the best form of the game.
    I used to watch IPL but it has become a terrific yawn. There is rarely any lasting excitement or tension. Maybe if I could connect with the players (i.e. if there were more that I had heard of) it may be more watchable. Can anyone tell me the purpose of the matches. The majority of the crowd are yelling constantly irrespective of what is going on and some seem to have no idea what is transpiring. I do find it amusing that the rich spectators only show any interest when they know that the camera is on them (same goes for the Cheerleaders). Why are they there? Has cricket now become another distraction for the poor and part of the social scene for the rich? Like the Roman Games? I depair.

  • Comment number 57.


    I understand your point about praise for losing. But in the context of West Indian cricket in the broad sense of the Board and its relations with players, it is a wonder that a touring team could be put together. I've joined in the praise. More importantly though, so has Sir Viv Richards. Losing isn't necessarily ignominious. It's the manner of the defeat.

    If I was a West Indian fan - assuming there are any left given the cultural changes that have eased cricket to the outer margins of Island life - if I was a fan I'd feel that they'd worked hard for their country. Credit where it's due.

  • Comment number 58.

    Congratulations to Strauss and the England Lions.
    Fantastic efforts from Broad and Shiv.
    Windies are capable
    of doing better.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 59.

    #50, 57

    The point I should have made is that feint praise, which often takes the form of a shallow magnanimity in victory, can be empty and galling. I read #50 as meaning something along those lines.

    Marlon Samuels' ability to support Shiv gave WI real impetus in the 2nd inning. We know Shiv too well. So for me it was Samuels who threatened to turn the match. That last 20 minutes (last session, D4) was tricky for England because the force was with WI.

    In the end it didn't work. But Ottis Gibson should highlight that passage of play and draw inspiration from it. The problem now is that Gabriel is out and it's difficult to know how Tino Best. Bags of effort and plenty of 4-balls I suspect. Shillingford must surely play.

    I liked the comment about bringing Freddie back just to recreate that little duel. But Best like Fidel has lost at least a yard of pace.

    Last point: the punters got 5 days worth of Test cricket.

  • Comment number 60.

    regarding steyn anderson, i think steyn is slightly better. arguably his best ever bowling performances came in india when their batsmen were all at their peak and his strike rate, which is the fourth best of all time is ridiculously good. he was also the second quickest ever to 250 test wickets after dennis lillee. simply, if he continues this for another 3 or 4 years, he will be statistically the best fast bowler ever, discounting those who played in the nineteenth and early twentieth century

  • Comment number 61.

    I compare the way the West Indies fought to carry the game into the fifth day from a virtually hopeless position overnight on Saturday to the miserable way they have waved the white banner for the past ten years. Gayle and Sarwan have featured heavily over that period and adding them to the side would not strengthen it. It seems likely that Gayle is unwilling to accept the authority of Sammy and Gibson, quite where he gets such a sense of entitlement from ten years of consistent failure I’m not sure particularly as being pretty much the quintessential FTB he would be an utter liability at the top of the order in Tests in England. From the interview Sarwan gave this week where he mewled about the terrible indignity of being asked to attain a level of fitness appropriate to an international sportsman he would seem to nurture a similarly self-righteous streak. Leave them where they are, the youngsters will probably lose but they might learn and improve, Gayle and Sarwan will not.

  • Comment number 62.

    I've followed the Anderson/Steyn comparisons with interest. Not a stats man so I'm not going to add anything. But how nice it is that England cricket fans have been able to have these who's-best debates featuring England cricketers. And lots of them. Cook, Prior, Swann, Broad, Bell, KP, are all up there.

    I think man-for-man and taking depth of squad into account England are a better outfit than SA. England don't travel well to the sub-continent but SA are often vulnerable at home. Time will tell.

  • Comment number 63.

    I must be part of the 3.768% of cricket fans who are bored stiff by statistics as means of demonstrating some point or other. Like any sport it is largely down to whose head is in the right place on the day. The differences in technical standard between top players in any sport is tiny. Steyn...Anderson...who knows? We'll see on the day.

    56 Steggsy - I get to see a fair bit of IPL cricket as my son is a fan (being 12 years old). I've nothing against 20:20 games, they offer a format that can fit in with modern lifestyles and attention spans. But it's no substitute for the real thing! I'm always faintly suspicious of IPL though for the following reasons.

    1. Suspiciously high number of "down to the wire" matches. In other forms of cricket, the deciding moments tend to occur at points earlier during the game, not in the last over...or at least rarely. In IPL this happens all the time.

    2. Odd passages of play that sees a side falling behind the run rate suddenly hit three sixes in a over to "make it close" again.

    3. "Wins off the last ball" when I'm expected to believe that a first class bowler has put a full-toss on leg stump by mistake!

    4. Witless ballyhoo! Witless commentary! Fake rivalries!

    5. Unbalanced contest between bat and ball! If hitting huge sixes and fours is so easy why don't batsmen do it in Test Matches? How long before before see the bowler having to deliver the ball at a certain height above a metal plate on the ground??

    Now I've seen comparatively few games so doubtless someone will now tell me why my observations are false in 58.289% of cases;-)

  • Comment number 64.

    Stats aren't always useful, especially when comparing players, because there are a mountain of other factors...opposition, conditions, state of game, etc. But they can be very useful in countering the popular fallacious arguments such as 'KP hasn't scored any runs for ages', 'Prior's never any good when we're 5 down with not many on the board', or 'Trott scores to slowly for ODI cricket'.

  • Comment number 65.

    #63, & 64

    I agree with both of you. I doubt that stats will back me up, but, for my money, Allan Donald is the finest fast bowler I've ever seen (either in the flesh or on TV). I've been watching and attending Test cricket since the 1970s. It's a subjective thing.

    The only man (that I know of) to make genuine pace bowling look like a very natural thing for the human body to be doing. Which, of course, it is not.

    Agree especially with 63's suspicions at 20/20. Wouldn't give you a 'thank you' for it. I know it attracts people to cricket, puts players on fantastic wages, etc. But the overall good of Test and 1st-class cricket I think it's a negative force.

    I'm not a diehard traditionalist, e.g. bemoaning England's 'whites' rather than the old cream colours (although I hated baseball caps and thank Vaughan for rehabilitating the cap). I agree with 63 that cricket at its very best tends to come in stages before the dénouement (Athers v. AD, Trent Bridge and Jo'burg, Ashes 2005, etc.).

    Just my opinions, but 20/20 is not capable of having equivalent moments. Luke Wright's BigBash (false rivalries again!) exploits are long forgotten. But I suspect everyone remembers Harmison's disguised slower ball to Michael Clarke. Magic moments.


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