BBC Sport cricket


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

They say that Antigua has 365 beaches - one for every day of the year.

The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound was clearly designed with a leap year in mind because this is Antigua's 366th beach.

Andrew Strauss
Strauss is looking to lead the England fightback
Quite how the bowlers will fare here I don't know. One area, where they take off in the delivery stride, is literally a sandpit eight inches deep.

Ryan Sidebottom, bowling left arm over, would not get to the wicket at the Pavilion End and clearly the fielders cannot slide on their knees in the outfield for fear of repeating Simon Jones's horrific injury in Brisbane on the 2002-03 Ashes tour.

The physiotherapists of both teams are worried, but although Alan Hurst, the ICC match referee, described the outfield as unsatisfactory, he also ruled that it is fit for play.

So that is the backdrop to a game in which England will try to lift themselves off the floor. The first job for Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, therefore, is to make sure that there are no excuses and that the whole team simply gets on with it.

Strauss is a captain who keeps his cards close to his chest and, as such, will not name his team until the toss. A very slow pitch looks unlikely to help anyone, so predicting England's line-up is impossible.

The options are limited, and laudable as it was to bring Adil Rashid on the trip, I wonder now - with the benefit of hindsight - whether the selectors would rather have had another specialist batsman here.

It will be a big surprise if Ian Bell remains in the team, and Owais Shah deserves his chance, but with Alastair Cook having now played 23 innings since his last century, it is not an ideal time to introduce a new number three.

There's also the question of Monty Panesar. He was comfortably out-bowled by Sulieman Benn in Jamaica, and he is gaining a reputation for being unsuccessful on slow pitches.

The big question is how England will respond to their humiliation last week. What will happen should they slip to 20-3? Is there the confidence and resolve in the batting line-up to stave off another collapse?

With Antigua filling up with thousands of England fans, the players will have no shortage of support, but those same spectators - many on a hard-earned trip of a lifetime - will not stand for a repeat of last Saturday's embarrassing exhibition.

Print Sponsor

see also
Jonathan Agnew column
07 Feb 09 |  England
Flower plays down 'distractions'
08 Feb 09 |  England
England collapse angers Strauss
07 Feb 09 |  England
England 'too matey' with Windies
08 Feb 09 |  Cricket
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.