How England can win this Test match

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It’s been a strange sort of series where England’s first innings in each Test has largely been irrelevant. Having won the first Test, West Indies seem to have set themselves to bat past England – however monumental the score – and then see what happens.

They’ve almost waited for the declaration and tried to render each match a second innings shoot-out. It’s a bizarre tactic and more interesting than the cricket it’s produced.

But now England have to do something, because a draw and a loss are one-and-the-same in their eyes. How can they possibly win?

A statistician might point to the scores in this match and this series and say England can’t take 10 wickets inside a day, much less defend 200 or whatever they choose to set (assuming they don’t implode). This overlooks the fact that in sport, at key moments where there’s a lot hinging on what happens, players sometimes suffer chronic meltdown and forget how to use their limbs properly.

It’s by no means a guarantee that this will happen, but the Windies haven’t won a big series in a long while. More importantly, they’ve put a lot of work into getting into this position and therefore feel they have even more at stake. They wouldn’t want to undo all that.

This kind of thinking can make your brain turn into cough syrup, reducing batsmen’s strokeplay to a semi-paralysed flapping disconnected from reason. There are probably enough strong-willed batsmen in this Windies side that this shouldn’t happen, but doubt can gnaw at anyone given the right conditions.

If it were ever going to happen, it will happen today.


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  1. ‘players forget how to use their limbs properly…’

    ‘reducing batsmen’s strokeplay to a semi-paralysed flapping disconnected from reason…’

    shiv chanderpaul, anyone?

    seriously though.

    graeme swann said they’re aiming for a lead of 270.
    they’ll have to go like the clappers if they want that before lunch.


  2. The problem is that unless we set them something something easily obtainable they will bat for the draw anyway. Anything over 170 and I reckon they will bog it at both ends. And when Shiv decides to bog it, there ain’t a lot you can do.

    If KP gets out in the first 20 mins this will all be a bit irrelevant anyway. Apologies if I am perhaps doing a disservice to the understated capabilities of Mssrs Prior & Broad.

    Could potentially be a great day’s play. I had dreams last night of us doing the impossible and Jacques & AB murdering the convicts’ bowling attack. Feeling less optimistic about either now.

  3. 270’s too much. Don’t know why they’d aim for that.

    We’d say: whatever they can get in 20 overs, then declare.

    You’d probably lose, but you’d be more likely to win than if you set 270 and increasing the likelihood of victory is all that matters for England in this Test.

  4. they won’t do that though.

    england are far too conservative.

    i think in the back of their minds will be the thought that a test match defeat is a test match defeat.

  5. fuck everyone in world cricket. everyone thinks like a goddamn pansy. where’s the risk taking? where’s the craziness? idiots.

  6. Strauss got his fingers burnt in the hot water of cautiousness in the 2nd (aka 3rd) test. This time, he’ll make the opposite mistake, and therefore WI will win 2-0.

    I have ignored the possibility that an England captain can make a right decision. That only ever happens by fluke.

    That said, I would much prefer to see England fail due to over-boldness than fail due to over-patheticness.

  7. Apparently Strauss looked hacked off on the balcony 20 mins before lunch…..

    I reckon Strauss wanted to declare before lunch and told KP to get his ton quickly (i.e. by the end of the next over) when Prior got out and he was on 84, but KP knew he wouldn’t do an “Athers”.

    We’ve set too many to win now – the Windies will bog it.

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