England in Caribbean – 23rd February 2019

There is still much to be done but the ‘real’ West Indian resurgence is officially underway after a number of false starts in recent years. The level of determined fight displayed during the second ODI hasn’t been since in a long time – at least, not at the death when the match seemed surely lost. Sure, they have competed hard but when odds looked too long, they conceded. Not this time.

Captain Jason Holder led from the front once again, prescribing himself all the most difficult overs, from power-play to middle when  wickets were desperately needed, and he responded to his own call. Inspirational stuff. As Eoin Morgan admitted afterwards, “there was a lot we could have done much better and we will look back and review our performance, but for now we just need to give the West Indies credit and accept that we were beaten by the better team on the day.”

The pleasure of working with David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd never wears thin – and never will. The former England batsman and coach remains of the most astute – and self-deprecating – commentators in the game, not just willing to fulfill any assignment, but happy to do so, and always with a smile. Pitch report? Of course! So what can we expect, Bumble? “To be honest, I’ve no idea really…” That’s a true mark of broadcasting purity. Why guess? If he doesn’t know, the players don’t either. Just tell the truth, the viewers appreciate that.

Former England opener Nick Knight has followed other, recent Sky commentators to make their radio debuts on TalkSport and, unsurprisingly, was just as comfortable as Ian Ward, Nasser Hussain and Ron Key. Reminded by a stats guru that it was on this day 16 years ago that he faced the first delivery in the modern era to be officially timed at 100mph, he smiled with instant recollection:

‘World Cup, against Pakistan, at Newlands. Of course. Interesting day, actually. I was always a very nervy player on game days and I liked to get to the ground early, before most of my team mates. So I was out in the middle, under Table Mountain, all by myself, mentally preparing. Then Shoaib Akhtar suddenly appears. He ran in for a couple of practice deliveries… he obviously felt it could be his day.

“He said, well I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of “I’m going to be bowling very fast at you today, Knighty…” so I realised it was going to be a challenging day. He turned and looked at the speed reading after each delivery when the match started, there was no shame. He wanted the magical number – 100mph.

“the first four balls were quick and then he hit the number…I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best,” Knight said.

No, he didn’t. The fastest ball recorded by modern technology was tucked gently off Nick Knight’s thigh pad down to fine leg for a single. It all looked and seemed rather tame. “It didn’t feel tame,” said Knight.

Off to Grenada early tomorrow morning – six hours of travelling if everything runs on time. Which doesn’t always happen. Very often. Here.

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