Monday 11 June 2012

The morning session on day 4

The day started ominously for the West Indies with Ravi Rampaul getting out caught by Prior off Finn on the third ball, but the first over was no indication at all of what was to come. The next two hours contained a perfect example of the best of test cricket.

Tino Best came out to the wicket, walking with a swagger that really did not fit with a number 11 with a highest score of 27. But he took no time to declare his intent. He swung wildly at the first few deliveries, connecting with a couple, and made it to 20 off 14 balls. At the other end the under fire Denesh Ramdin was slowly pushing the ball round the field and accumulating runs in a sensible fashion.

The English bowlers were bowling too short to Best, and he was enjoying it. All of a sudden his swagger was at a new level. He was mixing up glorious back foot drives and streaky edges, but no matter how aesthetically pleasing the shot was, they all managed to miss the fielders and find their way to the boundary. The English bowlers were still smiling, and laughing about it, thinking that it was just a tail-ender having a brief larrop. But it was much more than that.

After 44 balls Best became the first number 11 to score a fifty against England in over 100 years. He is only the thirteenth player to score a test fifty from number 11. At about this time the decided to start to bat sensibly. He only scored 1 boundary in the next 10 overs, leaving the bulk of the scoring up to Ramdin. The partnership reached 100 after 19.3 overs.

The next over Ramdin bought up his hundred and pulled out a note from his pocket and held it up for the cameras to see. It read "Yea Viv Talk Now," meaning something like "what are you saying now Viv" in reference to an article that Sir Vivian Richards had written about Ramdin before the match saying that "For some reason, he has deteriorated in such a big way. Just the way he is walking back, he looks like a totally lost guy." Ramdin answered him with the bat, but his response with the note paper was for some a step too far. Ian Botham went as far as to suggest that Ramdin would be advised to hide when he gets back into the pavilion.

It wasn't long before the irrepressible Best got back into the action. He hit a four to go past Zaheer Khan's score of 75, the previous highest score by a number 11 in test history. Best then set his sights on a hundred before lunch. He made it into the 90's with 5 overs in hand and it was potentially going to a huge embarrassment for England, conceding a century to a number 11. Unfortunately, however the fairytale came to an end at 95 when Best tried to hit a slower ball out of the park to bring it up in style. West Indies went from 280/8 overnight to an imposing 426 all out. With the shortened game, the follow on target is 150, so England will need 288 to avoid the follow on.

At this point there are only two realistic options remaining: a West Indian win or a (somewhat more likely) draw. It will be interesting to see how the inexperienced West Indian bowling line up will respond to platform that their colleagues have established.

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