As You Think So You Become
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England's first bowling day of the series was always going to generate a lot of interest given the absences of you know who. The temptation to make snap judgements was real. The temptation to think England would have done better with James Anderson and Stuart Broad was perhaps understandable. Online Cricket Betting But snap judgements would be unfair, engaging in hypotheticals pointless. The reality is that any conclusions about the bowlers who have been picked for this series need to wait until the end of the final Test in Grenada. Even so, there was plenty to learn from England's display on day two. Some of it was good, some of it was OK and some of it was disappointing.
Things did not start well. No doubt Chris Woakes and Craig Overton wanted to make a statement with the new ball to show that Anderson and Broad weren't going to be missed. Unfortunately, neither of England's opening bowlers, nor Mark Wood when he came on, found much swing or seam, in contrast to Jayden Seales and Kemar Roach on day one, and there was far too much inconsistency in lines and length from Woakes who conceded 23 runs from his first three overs. There was the odd play and miss from the hosts but they otherwise serenely scored 44 in the ten overs before the lunch break. On flat pitches, the new ball is vital. England failed to make the most of it.
Perhaps nerves played a part. Perhaps there was too much of an eagerness to make an impression. It cannot be easy for the likes of Woakes and Overton in the circumstances, when they know every ball will be scrutinised and compared to the two bowlers left at home. "I just don't think we were as consistent as we needed to be," Wood told BT Sport at the end of play. "The pitch, although it wasn't offering loads of assistance, I thought our lengths were poor. We were either too full or too short. We didn't quite get it right. We tried a bit too hard, put a bit too much pressure on ourselves to try and take early wickets."
It might have been easy for England to fold at that point, as they had done too often in the Ashes. But they rallied well to pick up four wickets in the space of 15.4 overs after the interval. There was clearly more intent after lunch, more aggression in the bowlers' lengths and the energy with which they were hitting the pitch. Wood said also that England decided to just "settle in" rather than force the pace as they had tried with the new ball. It had the desired effect. Each of England's four fast-bowlers picked up a wicket each and while they were helped by some indifferent shots, that was perhaps the product of the increased intensity and improved consistency.
Those were to be the only four wickets of the day, however. Although Wood found some reverse swing at times later on, which looked dangerous, the story for England in the second half of play was one of steadiness rather than incisiveness as Nkrumah Bonner and Jason Holder added an unbeaten 75 runs for the fifth wicket.
While England kept Holder and Bonner largely in check, it would be a stretch to say the West Indians were much threatened. A few edges from Holder went through the slip region along the ground. Bonner got himself stuck on the crease a few times against Wood. But no chances were created by England. Cricket Betting Tips Free Their bowling was steady, it was disciplined. There was no little effort. But incisive? Not so much. Aside from some reverse swing, the ball moved very little off the straight. It didn't seam, it didn't wobble, it didn't cut and it didn't spin. And England lacked menace as a result.
The pitch is flat and slow, so things were not easy. But that is often the reality away from home. "It's easy just saying it's a flat pitch but we have to find a way," Wood said. "We have got to find a way to create chances, we have to make something happen. Early wickets are going to be key [on day three]. If we can keep the reverse swing in, maybe that will give us a chance. But we have got to try and get the ball moving somehow."
None of this is to say England had a shocker. They did fine after the first ten overs. Overton largely did what he was picked to do and maintained decent pressure, although he probably would have liked to leak a few less boundaries. Jack Leach did a good holding job, conceding less than two runs an over and at one stage bowling seven maidens in a row. Ben Stokes bowled nine disciplined overs. The most difficult day belonged to Woakes, the leader of the attack for this series, who served up too many boundary balls. Towards the end, Ben Foakes even stood up to him.
Importantly, the energy in the field from England was good. There was plenty of noise, with players heard constantly cajoling each other and sending the odd word the batters' way. They looked full of energy and Foakes' body language behind the stumps was excellent all day. In Australia, England were too often flat in the field, even at times when they had a chance of putting Pat Cummins' team under pressure, which meant key moments slipped easily through their grasp. Being flat is not something they could be accused of today, even when Bonner and Holder were looking solid. And England do still have a good sized lead in this game.
But picking up wickets is the name of the game and it has been England's perennial problem away from home. Containment they can do. Forcing the pace on flat surfaces like this one is the wrong they are trying to right on this tour. It is the reason Anderson and Broad have been left out, to give others the opportunity to try and solve that puzzle. Online Betting Id There is still a lot of bowling left to be done in this Test and the series. Judgement needs to be reserved until three weeks' time. But as today showed, there is plenty of work still to be done
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