England in the Caribbean – 2nd February 2019

The England cricket team’s worst nightmares are just a fraction of Test match time away from materialising. A deficit of 85 runs on a deteriorating Antigua pitch, with no form to speak of amongst their top order, and more runs to come – the prospect of going to St.Lucia for a ‘dead’ Test looms large. Horribly large.

England will need to set the home side a target of around 180 to have a chance which already means they will have to score 300+. But they still have to claim another four wickets before that happens.

“It’s good for us, isn’t it?” claimed Stacey, the manager of one of the five restaurants at the St.James Resort. “Ya’ll gonna be spending a coupla days here wi no cricket – ya say it gonnaend in tree days…?” Actually, no, it probably won’t end in three days but the possibility is there. If the Windies lead by over 100 and England’s fragile top order stagger under scoreboard pressure, a three-day termination is a possibility.

Stacey claims to support England anyway. Her parents live in east London and she regards herself as “much as English as Antiguan.”

 

Sir Alistair Cook has taken to his new life as a ‘reporter’ for the BBC far better than many had predicted. Far from keeping himself to himself the former England captain has been completely comfortable in the press box and mingling with the press corps, many of whom had reason to write some harsh words and express unforgiving opinions about his and his team over the years.

He missed the first Test in Barbados so is still coming to terms with the four-hour time difference between England and Antigua – but there have be no lie-ins or attempts to go back to sleep at 5:00am. Cook was famous for being one of the fittest men in the team throughout his career, even at the end, and there are no signs of that regime ending any time soon. He has been seen shuttle-running up and down a brutal hill outside the gates of the St.James Resort while waiting for the gym to open at 6:00am.

Some things have, changed, however. Just a little. Cook was keen to have a sun-downer with a couple of his old mates who are now commentating for TalkSport and was most perturbed to hear that Matt Prior’s fitness regime meant he was ‘on the wagon.’ Steve Harmison, however, was only too happy to keep him company with a cold one at 6:30pm.

Rumours abound about the ‘luxury’ of staying in am ‘all-inclusive’ resort. They can be over-stated. Sometimes it is actually very difficult. Like choosing between the ‘Barbecue Night’ at the Docksider Restaurant or the ‘Steak Night’ at the Rainbow Garden restaurant. It’s not easy!

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