England in the Caribbean – 1st February 2019

The situation looks extremely bleak for England after the first day but I foresee a change on day two. The pitch will be far livelier after a night under covers and, if Stuart Broad bowls half as well as he did towards the close of play of day one, West Indies wickets will fall – and quickly.

Half as well is exactly what is required, actually. Half a dozen deliveries were far too good. There’s no point in having batsmen playing and missing by six inches. Broad looked dangerous from the moment he started bowling and might well have claimed two or three wickets on another day.

Jimmy Anderson, too, will be a handful on the second morning. My gut feel is that the West Indies will be bowled out for around 200 by tea on the second day – and then it will be ‘game on’ for the rest of the Test match.

The Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium is still searching for its identity following decades of history at the Antigua Recreation Ground where Brian Lara made 375 and 400 to break the Test scoring record twice. No longer are the chants and sledges of ‘Gravey’, the most famous supporter in the Caribbean, and no more ‘Chikkie’ in the Party Stand. The world moves on.

Not that England’s new generation of supporters minded the move to a new venue, 20-minutes drive from the capital, St John’s, where people were able to walk to the cricket rather than catch a bus. The Barmy Army were there in full numbers (around 8000), although at least a quartet of them arrived closer to lunchtime than the start.

England might have been 78-4 shortly after lunchtime but the frivolity of a tense match situation was hardly enough reason for them to stop enjoying the novelty of a swimming pool at a Test venue.

 

Three of the four Antiguan cricketing knights were at the ground today – Sirs Vivian Richards, Richie Richardson and Andy Roberts. Curtly Ambrose is in Australia competing in ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ If he’s been bowling from the end named after him, on todays’s pitch, England would have been lucky to make 100.

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