Sammy and Samuels turn tables on England
West Indies 304-6 England: Record seventh-wicket stand makes a game of it after West Indies threatened to implode
Nothing that happened yesterday altered the inevitable course of events. Everything that happened in the first session of the second Test dictated what they would be.
In those two hours before lunch, England bowled beautifully, West Indies batted limply. The sages said then, and they were right, that it is not possible to win a Test match on the first morning but it is possible to lose one – and the straightforward presumption was that that was exactly what took place.
Yet then, unpredictably and compellingly, it changed. There was a superb recovery in the evening, stylishly fashioned by Marlon Samuels, displaying a lavish talent for the second time in the series, and by the captain, Darren Sammy, who seems intent, as they say, to leave it all on the pitch this summer and enjoyed himself hugely.
The seventh-wicket partnership between the two was unbroken on 168, not only a record for West Indies against England but something to remind everyone of the old days. Samuels had his third Test hundred, his first in England, and his highest score, Sammy his third Test fifty and also his highest score.
It was further vindication for the umpire decision review system. When he was on one and struggling, Samuels was given out lbw to Tim Bresnan. He immediately referred Asad Rauf's decision to the third umpire; given the parlous state of the innings he had no option. But the replay showed the ball going over the top and he was spared.
There is a long, long way to go today on a flat pitch but Samuels and Sammy – perhaps it was important, nay crucial, that there was no Shiv Chanderpaul involved this time – have given their side a chance where there was none. They were fortunate to resist the 10 overs of the second new ball, much to the annoyance of England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson, who broke what looked like a pair of expensive designer sunglasses, but they had done enough to deserve that.
West Indies have never lost a Test match on this ground. Indeed they have never lost a first-class match and have been defeated in only a single one-day international. It was as if Sammy and Samuels – what a couple of Sams – were aware of this and anxious to protect it.
By Tuesday morning, perhaps before, it may still be seen that the lasting damage was done early. The tourists, who chose to bat on a ravishing day, were four down by lunch, six down by tea, by which time they had almost stultified; and, upon realising that something had to change, still six down by the close.
The session by session story told it all. In the first West Indies scored 70 runs and England bowled seven maidens in 27 overs; in the second there were 70 runs in 30 overs with 12 maidens; in the third 150 runs in 33 overs and two maidens. How England respond to that treatment today will again say something about their resolve.
It was a veritable triumph that West Indies prevented England batting before the day was out, since it looked a stone cold certainty. Anderson and Stuart Broad were irresistible in the morning, pitching the ball up, searching for swing and putting the ball precisely where they intended.
In the past year or so, excellence has become routine among England's bowlers. Perhaps this is as it should be in big-time cricket but it is difficult to think of a period when it was quite as perpetually high a quality as this.
Andrew Strauss would have batted had he won the toss but equally he may not have been too unhappy at losing it, aware of what his side had to bowl at. It took England until the second over to break the opening partnership. Adrian Barath, a talented player struggling to adjust to the demands of Test cricket, failed to cope with Broad's bounce and edged behind where Anderson, at third slip, reacted by sticking out his left hand. It was a stunningly brilliant reflex catch, reminiscent of Ian Botham from 30 years ago.
A few runs were scored but without any sign of permanence by either batsman. Kirk Edwards pushed forward without sufficient foot movement and the ball zipped between bat and pad to bowl him.
Before long, Darren Bravo was undone by Anderson's movement and his edged drive went to Graeme Swann at second slip. Shortly after, Kieran Powell, who had executed some lovely cover drives, was also caught at slip by Anderson off Broad.
It was a litany of error, compounded by footwork that might as well have been conducted in diving boots. West Indies seem intent on sticking with their order as it is but there must be a danger of damaging the minds of their young upper order beyond repair. In this series so far, they have been four wickets down for 100, 65 and 63.
Test matches cannot be won by having invariably to repair damage. In came Chanderpaul, who has spent most of the last half of his great career repairing damage, the Red Adair of batting. If there is a disaster – and West Indies batting is a kind of permanent oil spill – send for Shiv.
England worked over both Chanderpaul and Samuels at the start. But Chanderpaul knows how to deal with being beaten outside off stump or hit in the nether regions. He simply forgets and gets on with the game.
By the time he had reached 46 it looked pretty ominous for England that he would be there when he was 146. But Swann fooled him with drift and although Chanderpaul reviewed the lbw verdict, this one was not overturned.
When Denesh Ramdin was haplessly bowled by Bresnan it was 136 for six and there was no way back. England's bowlers were rampant and some onlookers might have been thinking of England's likely lead before the end of the day.
But Samuels, who was playing in the Indian Premier League until three weeks ago, measured his innings of 225 balls impeccably when he settled in. Sammy played to his attacking strengths. It was as lovely as the day.
Facts in figures
168* The highest seventh-wicket Test partnership at Trent Bridge
2.66 Kirk Edwards’ series average after eight runs in three innings so far
1 Graeme Swann took his first Test wicket at his home ground
35 Jimmy Anderson’s Test scalps at Trent Bridge, the venue’s second highest
88* The highest Test score of Darren Sammy’s career – previous best: 61
5 Chanderpaul’s innings of 46 ended his run of five straight Test 50s, in which he averaged 102.25
Timeline: How first day unfolded
11.12am Wicket, West Indies 9-1, Barath 0
England make their first incision of the morning: Jimmy Anderson instinctively sticks out his left hand to take an excellent slip catch when Adrian Barath edges Stuart Broad.
11.34am Wicket, West Indies 26-2, Edwards 7
Kirk Edwards is having a terrible tour of England, and here it gets worse. He is nowhere near keeping out a masterful inswinger from Anderson, which bowls him.
12.00pm Wicket, West Indies 42-3, Bravo 3
Anderson bowls from around the wicket, and is rewarded on his first ball. Darren Bravo cannot resist the temptation to drive a wide one and is caught at slip by Graeme Swann.
12.21pm Wicket, West Indies 63-4, Powell 33
Anderson is irrepressible: another intervention, this time at third slip, where he catches Kieran Powell. Broad had tempted the opener to drive loosely.
2.51pm Wicket, WI 125-5, Chanderpaul 46
The big wicket: a 62-run stand is over and stubborn Shiv is removed. Swann hits Chanderpaul in front of off-stump, the umpire says no but a smart review says yes.
3.05pm Wicket, West Indies 136-6, Ramdin 1
Could the rebuilding work be in vain? Tim Bresnan takes his first wicket of the day, as he unleashes one too sharp for Dinesh Ramdin, which darts through and bowls him.
6.12pm Stumps, WI 304-6, Samuels 107*, Sammy 88*
An excellent seventh-wicket stand of 168 sees West Indies through to the close. Marlon Samuels brings up his century in the day's penultimate over, and Sammy is 12 runs away.
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