West Indies are fed to the Lions – and the main course awaits
West Indies 147 England Lions 40-1
On the evidence so far, it is difficult to see the West Indies competing against England in this summer's Test series. No, forget that assessment. It is impossible.
Matters may improve, talent win out, form return, conditions change, but right now, less than a week before the serious business begins, the tourists' cause looks hopeless. They were fed to the Lions yesterday and, though they were not quite torn limb from limb, they were not exactly gladiatorial in their resistance.
Considering both that West Indies were bowled out for 147 in 48.5 overs by England's second-string attack and that the most formidable quartet of bowlers in the world awaits them at Lord's next Thursday, it cannot augur anything but badly.
Regardless of the fact that the Lions had their own travails when they batted and that any bowler capable of locating the seam would have fancied his chances, it still does not make for a close contest.
The Lions were 40 for 1 at the early close and, though survival was a precarious business, Michael Carberry hooked a six and Nick Compton played like a man determined to hang on to his good form.
It was not that the West Indies' batting was particularly reckless or error-strewn, it simply did not look up to the job. There was but one sustained spell of defiance, a stand of 75 between Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels, but that apart it was a routine bowlers' day.
Jack Brooks, the Northamptonshire fast bowler who did not play a first-class match until he was 24, took three wickets. He was better for pitching the ball up but he is a bowler who looks as though he expects to get batsmen out.
Brooks did his job with the new ball, accounting first for Adrian Barath and then for Kirk Edwards, both caught at slip. There were three wickets too for Stuart Meaker who looked close to venomous in the afternoon.
Bravo looks the real deal. He has a Test average of close to 50 after 16 matches and, although it might be heretical to say so, there were occasions when he looked more like Brian Lara than Brian Lara. Slightly taller than his relation (Lara's mother and Bravo's grandfather are siblings), he has a similar backlift, tendency to play late and precise placement.
There were a couple of sublime cover drives which deserved double the marks in the circumstances – he came in at 16 for 2, which shortly became 29 for 4 – and it was a surprise when he top-edged a pull to a ball from Stuart Meaker almost as soon as his ninth four had brought him his fifty.
Samuels may have done just enough to win him back his place in the Test team but his is likely to remain a career unfulfilled.
West Indies sprang a surprise before play began by announcing that their captain, Darren Sammy, would rest. It means he will go into the Test match having neither bowled nor batted. It is either confidence or foolishness and soon we will know which.
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