Brilliant Best on top of world but England must do better

England 221-5 West Indies 426: No 11 enters record books with scintillating knock as Strauss & Co struggle in the gloom

Edgbaston

In 135 years of Test cricket nobody batting at number 11 has made a century. They still haven't. But Tino Best, hitherto mildly celebrated for being the object of a classic sledge, came desperately, joyously, heart-breakingly close in two breathtaking hours of the Third Test yesterday.

With the match seemingly going nowhere, Best, a fast bowler by trade who has not played for West Indies in a Test match for three years, illuminated the fourth day by scoring 95 from 112 balls. He deserved a hundred, he had earned one with a bravura display of counter-attacking which was huge fun and utterly nerveless – until, that is, the last moments. Best and Denesh Ramdin put on 143 runs, the third highest for the 10th wicket in Tests and the highest in England, and took their team's total to 426 – that after being put in.

It was joined in the afternoon by another landmark for the crassest piece of umpiring in this country and possibly in the world in the last 135 years. With England in a dominant mode by then as Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen fashioned a recovery on a perfectly amenable day with the floodlights on, the umpires halted play because of bad light. True, the sun was not cracking the flags but it was England in June and looking it.

Had there been any sort of crowd, it might have turned nasty. As it was, a few boos sufficed until the teams returned, after the loss of an hour, with no discernible improvement. Indeed, it might have been darker than 15 minutes earlier.

England lost two late wickets after shedding three early ones. Pietersen was out pushing an off-break to slip and Jonny Bairstow failed yet again, playing across the line. At 221 for 5, England are still short of the follow-on mark by 55 runs. They do not look anywhere near their peak at present.

The umpires overlooked the most important Law of Cricket, number 43 (common sense), and were left looking foolish. This match had already lost two days to rain when it really was impossible to play. Such nonsense could not expunge the delightful memory of Best.

There might have been a minuscule audience to watch – confirming that you should never take your eyes off Test cricket – but the innings was ringing round the world, courtesy of modern communications methods, by the time Best entered the nineties. No No 11 before had been in such territory.

He betrayed his anxiety by dashing down the pitch for a single against Graham Onions. Sent back by his partner, Ramdin, who had already made a hundred and rather spoiled the moment, Best slumped to his knees as if to cajole himself of what was at stake.

Then he swished at his next ball, only to find that it was on him much slower than expected. Instead of being drilled forwards it went backwards and Andrew Strauss, England's captain, who must have been wondering what on earth he could do to bring an end to the tourists' innings, ran from slip to pouch the catch.

"Mind the windows, Tino," Andrew Flintoff said to Best on his last innings in England eight years ago when the batsman was essaying some booming but ill-advised drives. Thus encouraged, he charged down the pitch, missed the ball and was stumped by a country mile.

He did not miss many balls yesterday and from the moment he propelled his ninth for four with a lofted off drive and held the shot for all to admire he was irrepressible.

What made this interlude such a pleasure – apart from the statistical feast – was that Best so clearly enjoyed it. He chortled his way through the morning, which is not something that could be said of England's bowlers. When they took West Indies' ninth wicket with the third ball of the day it was pretty obvious that they would be batting within half an hour at the outside.

Best batted on and on. There was the odd agricultural heave but his cover drives, properly designed and executed, will leave the lasting impression. The highest score by a No 11 before this was Zaheer Khan's 75 for India against Bangladesh in 2004, the highest in England, John Snow's 59 not out, against West Indies in 1966. No No 11 had scored so much as a fifty against England for more than a century.

Ramdin was quite content to play the junior role, though he was no less enterprising. His innings was compact and well-ordered and it was a pity that he chose to mark it by unfurling from his pocket a scrawled note addressed to one of the greatest batsmen who ever played, Sir Vivian Richards.

In his role as pundit, Richards had made mild criticism of Ramdin for his occasionally shoddy wicketkeeping in the last Test in Nottingham (it was) and for failing to reach 50 in 14 innings (also true). Instead of basking in adulation, Ramdin effectively told Richards to shut up. As many before him found out, it was never wise to sledge Viv.

England's part in all this was confused. They looked short of vigour and ideas, some of their field placings were awry and they were out of sorts. When they started to leave the field for lunch, with the West Indies nine down, they overlooked the change in regulation which entails an extra half-hour in such positions. It looked unprepared.

This has been a tougher series for England than the bare results might indicate and this session was a particularly poor advertisement for their rotation policy. They did not bowl badly, indeed Onions mostly bowled well, but the fact is that Jimmy Anderson, especially, and Stuart Broad were missed.

It was inevitable that there would be early wickets. So there were as Alastair Cook was lbw, Jonathan Trott played on and Strauss was brilliantly caught at slip. Pietersen and Bell swiftly established their authority and dealt with the new mystery spinner, Sunil Narine, in such dismissive fashion as to leave observers wondering what all the fuss was about. Welcome to Test cricket.

Timeline: How Day Four unfolded

11.00am Wicket. West Indies 283-9, Rampaul 2

England strike early on; Finn bowls on a good length and Rampaul nibbles the ball behind for wicketkeeper Prior to complete a comfortable catch.

11.50am Half-century. West Indies 342-9, Best 50

Quite an achievement. Best, exuding dexterity and defiance, scores a single to bring up a half-century, the first No 11 to post a Test fifty against England since 1906.

12.39pm Century. West Indies 393-9, Ramdin 100

Ton up and time for a rebuttal; Ramdin, whom Sir Viv Richards criticised, pulls out a piece of paper in full view of the media centre, which reads: "YEA VIV TALK NAH"

12.48pm Record. West Indies 407-9

Best continues to impress. His four over gully moves his score on to 76, before he hits a huge six back over Bresnan's head. He's eventually out for 95 as the visitors finish on 426.

2.20pm Wicket. England 13-1, Cook 4

A mini-collapse ensues. Rampaul dismisses Cook leg-before after a review is called in vain. Trott plays on before skipper Strauss is caught by Bravo. England are 49-3.

5.26pm Half-centuries. England 151-3, KP 55, Bell 50

The hosts recover valiantly. Bell glances to long leg to bring up his fifty before Pietersen follows suit by hitting Best through midwicket. The pair's partnership reaches 100.

6.34pm Wicket. England 186-4, Pietersen 78

Following a second bad light delay, KP's fine knock ends as Sammy catches him at slip, before Bairstow's bowled cheaply by Best just after 7pm.

Giles Lucas

Scoreboard

Edgbaston (Third/Fourth day of five): England are trailing West Indies by 212 runs with 6 first-innings wickets in hand

England won toss

WEST INDIES — First Innings

A B Barath lbw b Onions 41

106 balls 1 sixes 4 fours

K O A Powell c Swann b Bresnan 24

43 balls 0 sixes 2 fours

A B Fudadin c Bell b Bresnan 28

110 balls 0 sixes 4 fours

D M Bravo c & b Finn 6

16 balls 0 sixes 1 fours

M N Samuels lbw b Bresnan 76

114 balls 1 sixes 10 fours

N Deonarine c Strauss b Onions 7

29 balls 0 sixes 1 fours

†D Ramdin not out 107

183 balls 0 sixes 9 fours

*D J G Sammy c Strauss b Finn 16

35 balls 0 sixes 2 fours

S P Narine b Onions 11

17 balls 0 sixes 1 fours

R Rampaul c Prior b Finn 2

12 balls 0 sixes 0 fours

T L Best c Strauss b Onions 95

112 balls 1 sixes 14 fours

Extras (b4 lb8 w1) 13

Total (129.3 overs) 426

Fall: 1-49, 2-90, 3-99, 4-128, 5-152, 6-208, 7-241, 8-267, 9-283.

Bowler Spells: G Onions: 24-7-56-3 (4-0-6-0; 4-1-11-0; 5-2-9-1; 5-2-6-1; 3-1-15-0; 3-1-9-1), TT Bresnan: 26-8-74-3 (4-1-8-0; 2-1-6-1; 3-1-12-0; 7-1-18-1; 2-2-0-0; 2-0-2-1; 6-2-28-0), ST Finn: 22-6-65-2 (1wd) (8-2-24-0; 6-4-8-1; 2-0-15-0; 6-0-18-1), GP Swann: 21-5-61-0 (4-1-13-0; 13-4-37-0; 4-0-11-0), IJL Trott: 5-1-16-0 (5-1-16-0)

ENGLAND — First Innings

*A J Strauss c Bravo b Best 17

45 balls 0 sixes 1 fours

A N Cook lbw b Rampaul 4

8 balls 0 sixes 0 fours

I J L Trott b Sammy 17

23 balls 0 sixes 3 fours

K P Pietersen c Sammy b Samuels 78

81 balls 1 sixes 11 fours

I R Bell not out 71

129 balls 0 sixes 10 fours

J M Bairstow not out 18

34 balls 0 sixes 3 fours

Extras (b1 lb6 nb2) 9

Total (for 4, 53 overs) 214

Fall: 1-13, 2-40, 3-49, 4-186.

To Bat: †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, S T Finn, G Onions.

Bowling: T L Best 12-2-39-1, R Rampaul 14-1-55-1, D J G Sammy 7-1-18-1, S P Narine 13-1-68-0, M N Samuels 7-0-27-1.

Umpires: HDPK Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) & AL Hill (New Zealand)

3rd Umpire: Aleem Dar (Pakistan)

Match Referee: RS Mahanama (Sri Lanka)

Test Progress: Day Three: West Indies 50 in 17.6 overs, Lunch: 85-1 in 29 overs (Barath 40, Fudadin 15), 100 in 39.2 overs, 150 in 61.4 overs, Samuels 50 off 76 balls (6 fours, 1 six), Tea: 164-5 in 65 overs (Samuels 50, Ramdin 1), 200 in 76.2 overs, 250 in 89.5 overs, 250 in 89.5 overs, Ramdin 50 off 97 balls (6 fours), Close: 280-8 in 98 overs (Ramdin 60, Rampaul 2).

 

 

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?