Thursday, 17 May 2012

England v West Indies

Cricket lovers may not have noticed as they try to stay out the rain, or warm up after popping out for milk in the icy wind, or wipe off the hailstones that have just dumped on them out of a deceptively blue sky, but the Test summer starts today.  It is of course unnatural.  Test cricket should not start until June.  And this deliberate disturbance of the natural order is reaping its dreadful rewards.  It is a direct cause of man made climate change of catastrophic proportions.  And there are still climate change deniers who will dispute the evidence and claim it is all a conspiracy by scientists or lentil eating macrame fanatics or, even worse, Guardian readers.  While the Government has a plan of action to address climate change, it does not mention regulation of Test match dates - which might be the single most powerful measure to counter the impacts cricketers see about them every day and restore the natural order of things.

But here are the West Indies, and, according to all the pundits, they might as well have stayed at home for all the prospects of success they have against the world number ones, the resurgent England.  This is the resurgent England whose resurgence amounts to one resurgent victory in one Test in Colombo in February having resurgently lost the previous 4 in a resurgent row.  Resurgence comes in many forms.  Supporters would expect their batting to recover from its abject state of the winter - particularly when spin bowling is not likely to be a dominant force, but there is always the possibility that the psychological cracks run deep.  FB would be surprised, but you never know.

Pundits also remind us of how not so many years ago, the arrival of the West Indies for a Test series would get all English opening batsmen finding that their diaries had urgent competing engagements.  'Sorry - can't face Holding and Marshall at Lords, my mother in law wants me to paint her sun lounge.'  'Garner and Roberts at Old Trafford - love to - but I've promised the wife I'd clear the attic.  And a promise is a promise............'

Kemar Roach
Things change.  Now there is a queue waiting for Strauss to fail.

West Indies show occasional signs of recovery. They have good sessions, sometimes they have good days, sometimes more than one good day in a row. But they cannot sustain. Their home record is nothing to commend, but their away record is truly lamentable. In the past 15 years, their away record against teams other than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh has just two wins and 50 defeats from 65 Tests.

There are bright sparks in the team. They bring the number one ranked batsman - Chanderpaul in surely his last visit - but he can bat in English conditions -  in the 2007  tour of England he averaged 148.66 with  two undefeated centuries in the third and fourth Tests. Darren Bravo looks the part and has some Lara genes. Shillingford showed potential against Australia in the winter. Kemar Roach has genuine pace. But it looks too little against such a settled side as England - particularly in what are bound to be seam friendly conditions.

Chanderpaul - 140 Tests,
10055 runs
FB fears for them. So he makes this proposal to even things up. Many of West Indies most talented cricketers are elsewhere lured by big bucks for short form of the game in the IPL and elsewhere. Why play 5 day matches in the cold and the rain when you can get a turbo-boost to your bank balance for 3 hours in the sunshine?  Administrators should take this into account and the series should recognise that resources available to the West Indies are not being deployed.  A couple of simple correcting factors would achieve this. Here are FB's suggestions, a variant of the Duckworth-Lewis methods.

In any West Indian total under 300 the average runs scored by Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan,  and Kieron Pollard in their 2 most recent appearances in any form of cricket will be added.

Wickets taken by Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Jerome Taylor and Sunil Narine will be deemed to be taken in the Test match in progress at the time and the higher scoring English batsman will immediately leave the field. Wickets, up to a maximum of 4, may be held in reserve should West Indies be batting at the time the wickets were taken.

That should even things up.  It may be unnatural but no more unnatural than Test cricket in May.


  1. While applauding this ingenious scheme, I consider it, like the Duckworth Lewis method, unnecessarily complex. An alternative, which I suggested many years ago when the Windies were in their prime, would be for the poorer side to be granted an extra innings. Another option would be for the stronger side to play with one hand tied behind their backs. Either, I'm sure FB will agree, would produce great entertainment on a cold May day.

    1. Chris Gayle made 127 in the IPL today - rather proves FB's point don't you think? He probably did have one had tied behind his back when he did it too.