|Scorecard:||England v West Indies|
|Event:||West Indies in England 2012|
DateLine: 10th June 2012
England trail by 205 runs in Third Test
In association with Investec
A match having been robbed of its competitive edge by two days of adverse weather at least produced great entertainment on the fourth day. West Indiesí last wicket pair piled on the runs against all expectations to take their side to 426 before being dismissed after lunch. Denesh Ramdin remained unbeaten on 107 and Tino Best became the highest Test run scorer for a No. 11 batsman with 95, giving a memorable batting display.
In reply England made a disappointing start to their innings, losing three wickets for 49. The first wicket went on 13 with Alastair Cook lbw for 4, the second fell on 40 when Jonathan Trott played-on to his stumps on 17 and Andrew Strauss also fell for 17 nine runs later. Then a solid partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell brought about a revival.
The hundred of their stand came from 130 balls with Bell reaching his 32nd Test half century and Pietersen his 26th quite rapidly from just.59 balls. He was finally dismissed for 78 ending a 137-run stand and England were 187 for four Jonny Bairstow has yet to impress at the highest level of the game having been bowled between bat and pad for 18. Play was extended well into the evening to make up for much lost time and at stumps, on 221 for five, England were trailing by 205, needing a further 56 to avoid the follow-on.
Earlier, when West Indies resumed their first innings on 280 for eight, it would have been unthinkable that the innings would last the entire first session which had been extended under the new rules with the last pair still battling it out. It took England just three balls to claim the ninth wicket with Ravi Rampaul edging behind the stumps the second ball he faced.
Following the fall of that wicket the last pair put up their extraordinary stand and a wonderful exhibition of aggressive shots from Best. For a little over two and a quarter hours during which he faced 112 balls he played the most attractive strokes and dominated the stand with Ramdin, the more accomplished batsman by comparison. Best set the pattern of his knock from early in his innings taking two boundaries in each of Steve Finnís successive overs, the second of which saw him past his previous highest Test score of 27.
Ramdin, on 60 overnight, was dropped by Pietersen in the gully and with the pace bowlers not making an impression on either batsman, off spinner Graeme Swann was brought on for the tenth over. With Best playing beautiful strokes including some flamboyant ones the 50 of the stand came from 56 balls and Best had 45 of those runs from just 38 balls when he hit Swann for two fours off successive balls.
The tail-ender went on to bring up his maiden Test half century from 44 balls and remarkably all but ten of those runs had come from boundaries, in the process he went past his highest first-class score of 51.. The West Indiesí tenth wicket record in England soon came up beating the previous best of 58 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Corey Collymore at Chester-le-Street in 2007. The partnership went from strength to strength while Englandís bowling became wayward along with lapses in the field.
Ramdin picked up runs steadily while his partner was more aggressive. The former had got into the nineties flicking a four to deep backward point and a neat leg glance off Finn took him to 95. Ramdinís second Test century came from 160 balls and it was a timely one as when he came out to bat the score was only 152 and half the team was back in the dressing room. He had held the innings together batting cautiously for four hours to reach three figures. His first was also against England in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2009.
His manner of celebration was quite unique. Upon reaching the three figures he showed the joy he felt in the usual way but with that he brought out a piece of paper from his pocket and held it up towards the media boxes aimed at West Indiesí former great batsman Viv Richards who was commentating on the radio and who has been critical of Ramdin as a player.
Best, having lifted Tim Bresnan for a straight six and then taking his score to 88 with a fierce shot to the point boundary off Finn, he became a little watchful as he was approaching a hundred. His last scoring shot was a push to cover for two which took him to 95, having earlier passed the previous highest of 75 by a No. 11 batsman. But a rush of blood and the excitement of reaching a memorable milestone proved too much for him.
He nearly ran himself out in looking for a run when he was rightly sent back and despite a word of caution from his partner he top edged a slog off the next ball from Onions and Andrew Strauss ran back from slip to hold the catch. It ended a marvellous stand of 143 which was just 8 short of the world Test record for the tenth wicket.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)