It has got rather lost in the events in Lahore but a test match finished in Barbados on Monday. To be honest, it is quite probable that we would have forgotten all about the test match by now anyway. It really was one of the most tedious games it has been my misfortune to watch.
The Barbados pitch at the start of Day 5. Still nothing for the bowlers.
To quote Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf, I consider it an insult to my backside that it was forced to sit there growing carbuncles as I watched such a dull game. I said on this blog after the match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Karachi that cricket is considerably diminished if there is no genuine contest between bat and ball and the point stands again. Test cricket changes from being one of the most compelling, fascinating games in the world to an unadulterated yawn-fest.
The match saw 1,628 runs scored for the loss of 17 wickets, a farcical statistic. Admittedly both sides have batting line-ups vastly superior to their rather toothless bowling attacks but that does not disguise the fact that there was nothing in this pitch for bowlers of any description and therefore for the game as a whole or for the crowd. The pitch started flat and stayed flat. If anything it got flatter.
It is a shame that for the second successive week a spectacular individual batting performance is reduced markedly when it is considered in the context of the game. Last week Younis Khan made 313 and this week Ramnaresh Sarwan a fantastic 291. Any innings of that magnitude deserves praise, at the very least for the astonishing powers of concentration, stamina and application required. But when it is considered that they were scored in the first two games in test history in which scores of 600 and 700 have been posted in the first and second innings of the game, the achievements lose a good deal of their impact.
The draw had looked the likely result from early in the match. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook looked completely untroubled as they recorded England’s highest opening partnership against the West Indies in tests. Ravi Bopara chipped in with his first test century but we really learned nothing about a player whose temperament has been questioned in the past. It was a wicket on which he could really cash in and hopefully it is the start of great things, but this is a far cry from Headingley against the Aussies in the summer.
Besides Sarwan’s marathon effort, Dinesh Ramdin was the star for the West Indies, scoring his first test century and coming within 2 runs of the highest score ever by a West Indian keeper. England, memories of their 51 all out still fresh in their minds, went into the last day having to avoid defeat in a match in which they had scored 600. But the wicket was so docile that there was never any prospect of an upset this time and once Cook had chalked up a much needed hundred the contest was mercifully cut short and everybody could go home.
I found myself feeling even more sorry for those fans who had travelled to Barbados than those who had gone to Antigua and seen the 2nd test called off after 10 balls. At least those supporters could go off and do something else on their Caribbean island. Those in Barbados were obliged to sit inside a cricket ground and watch the game of cricket reach levels of tedium rarely touched. Surely the game owes a duty to those supporters who have spent so much money to follow their team. The groundsmen in Antigua, Karachi and Barbados should be left in no doubt that their present efforts are simply not good enough.
The impact for England is that they now cannot win this series and their barren run goes on. They have to win in Trinidad to avoid a series defeat which was unthinkable when they arrived. The West Indies have now gone 6 matches without defeat for the first time since 2000 and are seeking their first series victory since 2002. Let’s just hope we get a proper match this time.
by Stuart Peel