Let’s face it, Test cricket is no longer the blockbuster stuff it used to be. Fans are losing the patience of watching men laced in white flannels hitting the ball for days.
But once in a while, the monotonous tempo of the long format game gets a chilling twist and reveals its true colours and offers a roller-coaster of emotions for the thrill-seeking junkies.
West Indies might have thanked the weather gods for spoiling the play for the English side from the secret confines of the dressing room. Regardless of the little time the team got for the first hour of the morning session on the fourth day, the hosts made it clear that enforcing a stalemate is not going to be an easy venture for the opponents.
The English team was performing by the rule with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes balling tight in tandem. Dom Bess took the expensive wickets while left-arm Sam Curran was no behind in making the life of right-hand batsmen difficult at the least.
For West Indies, early jolts were quite disarming but the team brought up a good fight powered by the resistive nature of Kraigg Braithwaite and Shamarh Brooks, who put up a fight. Interestingly, but the West Indies players are poles apart in both their height and playing technique, still they manage to work impressively as a team.
While Books looked forward to playing aggressively and meeting the ball precisely under his nose, Braithwaite chose to stay calm and use the depth of the crease while hanging back. Courtesy of the hard-willed play of the two West Indies brave hearts, the team closed to the target of follow-on score of 270 before the game was poised just 43 runs left to go.
West Indies collapsed against the new-ball
The game might have been saved for the visitors by the rain, it was evident that the opponents were deeply savaged by the new ball. Joe Root cashed in straight away and used the new weapon of destruction send experienced campaigner, Broad back to the pavilion.
Books who seemed to have things under control when playing with the old ball seemed to not fathom the shenanigans of the new-ball and perished under the attack by Broad. It was a thriller to watch the pace spearhead flooring Jermaine Blackwood next before he clean-bowled Shane Dowrich.
Then West Indies skipper Jason Holder resisted briefly before Woakes got him from the first slip. The shrewd tactical manoeuvre with the new ball from the English side reduced West Indies to 260/8 within a span of four overs. For the visitors, the game was all but over as the other side was attacking left and right.
After Roston Chase finished the game for West Indies shrinking them to 287 all out, it was befitting that Jos Butler and Ben Stokes came to play for England’s second session.
This game reminds us that when we are irritated by the slow-paced Test cricket dawdling nomadically, we never know that excitement may be just around the corner.