England in the Caribbean – 12th February 2019

England’s victory duly arrived a little earlier than anticipated following Joe Root’s spontaneous and possibly emotional declaration at the fall of his wicket for 122. Jonny Bairstow was already swinging his bat at the bottom of the staircase in anticipation of breezy hit when he was sent back upstairs. Ben Stokes might also have been expecting another over with his score on 48 not out.

Many eyebrows were raised but the captain’s prerogative is exactly that. Players either live with it or they sulk, and Root had more than enough good reasons to take a unilateral decision given the isolation he has felt while things were going wrong during the first two Tests. Where has the chief selector been after the disastrous first Test in Barbados?

But today was a celebration for England and a victory of genuine consolation rather than the hollow sort. Thrashed in the first two Tests, out-thought, out-planned and out-played, they at least bounced back with a victory of similar proportions.

“Confidence levels fluctuate very quickly at this level, I can attest to that, but this is a very good England team,” said Nasser Hussain in the TalkSport commentary box.

“They might have lost two Test matches by very big margins before this but they had also won eight of their last nine Tests before this series so, this is the reminder – if they needed one – that they have what it takes. Just a bit of tweaking and fine-tuning here and there, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. It’s really just the top three that need to be sorted.”

Just the top three. Right. Just the top three. The foundation, the rock upon which the innings is built. Michael Atherton was equally but entirely differently in agreement with his colleague: “I would have to say that numbers four to eight look absolutely perfect at the moment,” he said. “And the bowling options are plentiful. It would be nice to have a few more batting options for the top three…”

 

As we wind down the end of another Test series, may I take the opportunity to remind readers of the extraordinary job done by the cameramen who stay on their feet for seven hours a day – never mind the two-hour ‘call-time’ before play starts. They are a hard-core breed.

And also the kindest, most considerate, sharing people in the broadcasting world. If you find yourself in trouble on tour, you need to hope it’s a cameraman you bump into.

Mark Wood’s refusal to let go of his (especially) over-sized man-of-the-match cheque was hilarious because he genuinely wanted to keep hold of it as much as the event organisers genuinely wanted to take it off him as soon as the sponsors photos were taken!

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