West Indies v England: second Test, day four – live! | Sport

Test cricket, as you know, is called that for a reason. It’s the ultimate test for the players. And it can also be quite a test for the mother spectator. Picture the scene: you save up for years to follow England on tour. The Caribbean in March! Trip of a lifetime! And then you find you’ve booked in for five days of tedium.

After three days of this match, there have been 13 wickets. At that rate, it would take six more days to get close to a result. While Tests elsewhere often finish early, West Indies’ groundsmen are hell-bent on bringing back the draw. In Antigua it was a reasonably tense one, with a result still possible as the final session began. In Barbados, we’ll be lucky to get anywhere near that.

It’s not just the groundsmen. West Indies have mostly batted like it’s 1959, Alex Lees did the same for England, and even Joe Root, usually so fluent, found the boundary only once every 22 balls. Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes went three times as fast as that and deserve medals for it. But in the field England have been almost as passive as West Indies with the bat. Root had Jack Leach wheeling away for hours on end, doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. After bowling Jofra Archer and Mark Wood into the ground, he is now working on Leach – who, as a spinner, is better able to cope, but still, it made no sense to hand him the new ball when he was knackered and there were three specialist seamers kicking their heels.

As a captain, Root remains superb at one facet of the job (leading from the front), good at another (being an ambassador), and hopeless at the rest: picking the team reading the pitch, having a plan, having a back- up plan, making things happen, running the show. A strong captain is always one step ahead, yet Root was so dopey with his bowling changes yesterday that some OBOers had time to work out what was needed, compose an email, wait for us writers to get through the inbox, and still be half an hour ahead of the game.

Jos Buttler has copped some flak for his poor Ashes with the bat, but without his sharp eye and cool head, Root even struggles with the reviews. Watching England yesterday, you’d never have known that Root had captained them in more Tests than anyone in their history.

That said, hope springs eternal, and I’ll be delighted if he goes out there today and makes this opinion look silly. Play starts at 2pm GMT: see you then.


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