As James Anderson trudged out to bat with a world-weary
expression and a balcony of team-mates fighting to hide their amusement, you had to
wonder why England were sending
out a nightwatchman.
The hosts were 282-2 on the first day when the Lancastrian
strode out to the middle clutching his bat with the conviction of Saj Mahmood
in a three-stump bowl-out.
He was then ridiculously asked by Andrew Strauss to up the
tempo on the morning of the third day, which would be like asking Devon Smith
to look like he is indeed a batsman: he can try, but he simply cannot do it.
The disturbing thing is that this habit has become ingrained
into the mindset of Strauss, Andy Flower and their 300-strong backroom
did his job: he survived a (made-to-look) brutal spell of bowling from Fidel
Edwards, who appears to have his contract bonuses revolving around the cherries
he can print on the tail-ender's helmet. That is not the point.
The sheer relish and abounding enthusiasm which exuded from
Edwards's minute frame when Anderson
came out to bat gave him, and his side, a much-needed lift.
Edwards, in the space of ten minutes, was transformed from
bowling like Richard Stilgoe to bowling like Richard Hadlee as he banished the abundance of
If Kevin Pietersen is the England
number four, then he should be prepared to bat at number four, without
exception: this is, after all, a pitch that is more Victoria
sponge than Victoria's
The role of the nightwatchman has been long abused by England's
persistent and indiscriminate application of it, going back to Matthew Hoggard's
Famously Steve Waugh abandoned the tactic, trusting instead
in his batsmen to do what they are paid to do, and his bowlers to take wickets,
batting if absolutely required.
Yes, Jason Gillespie once scored a double hundred coming in as a
nightwatchman under Ricky Ponting's guidance, but he was facing a Bangladesh
attack with less vim than a hip flask-laden touring club side.
Was it worth all of this: Anderson's 39-ball 14 did little
to demonstrate that Strauss is finally prepared to shed his reputation as a conservative
captain and show the aggression needed to force a result in a rain-affected
was struck viciously on the head by Edwards in the first Test at Lord's, and
again on Thursday evening, with a flurry of Merv Hughes-esque verbals to
While Edwards's unflinching endeavours have been lauded in
this series by numerous pundits, the bowler gave Anderson a send-off worthy of "Prince" Naseem
Despite being clean bowled, backing so far away from leg
stump he was almost shaking hands with the square-leg umpire, Anderson can reflect on
another job well done.
should question why they are treating their fast bowler like a proverbial
When Anderson was finally employed in his intended form, he
tore the West Indies top order apart, taking three quick wickets, albeit
courtesy of a diabolical decision from umpire EAR de Silva in dismissing Chris
Gayle for a thigh-high lbw.
finally cast aside outdated and unnecessary strategies, and let the capable
Pietersen preserve his wicket himself: as he seemed obliged to doing when playing
a slog which could only be described as 'village'.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Paul Collingwood, breaking his self-imposed
conservatism, and swotting the ball over Sulieman Benn's head for a one-bounce
four after charging down the wicket at the spinner with a look of madness. Strange, as Benn doesn't look like he could wind up a clockwork radio.
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: Cricket really is the most glorious
game. It is an excellent example of a bat and ball sport with its influence
having spread exponentially from a grassroots game in the 16th century, to one
that truly sits on the international stage as a wonderful sport in the
present day. I have to admit, nothing warms my heart more than to hear the
sound of a ball, constructed notably of cork with a leather casing and raised
sewn seam, hitting a paddle shaped willow wood bat (atomicwhitten).