West Indies v England - as it happened
Afternoon everyone. Lazy sunday afternoon, as it goes, with no mind to worry.
Unless you happen to be playing for England, in which case you're almost certainly getting set for long day's hard yakka. You don't need to be much of an analyst to know that the biggest single reason behind England's purple years of 2004 and 2005 was their fast bowling attack, formed, of course, on this very tour five years back. Now, England are struggling to find one single world-class seamer, never mind four of them; two are crocked, one is callow and another uncapped, a fifth has all the heart of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, and the last of them, Jimmy Anderson, is a deal of consistency away from being good enough. Down in New Zealand all the while, a string of familiar faces - Plunkett, Mahmood and Luke Wright - are struggling to make much of an impression.
Referrals: a complete and utter waste of everybody's time except in proving that cricket doesn't need this sort of video review system. I hope the ICC scraps them. Most irritatingly of all, it turns all the talk and attention away from the cricket itself and shifts it onto a tedious debate about the merits of something that has shown, quite clearly, it is not worth persevering with.
For those who like to know such things the South Africans are available at 13-2 to chase down that world-record 454. They couldn't, could they? The five-man attack that did so well in the first innings in the Wanderers only has 28 caps between them you know. South Africa need another 389 runs, and they have ten wickets in hand...
110th over: West Indies 398-5 (Sarwan 184 Ramdin 25)
Graeme Swann, 3-92 so far, opens the attack for the day. Denesh Ramdin is the man on strike, with a slip and a shorty leg the only catchers in his immediate vicinity. There's an irritating chorus of unconvincing banter from the England fielders; "good stuff Swanee!" " Oooo! Nice!" plenty of help there, Gray!" No. No there's not actually. Ramdin looks blissfully comfortable playing out a maiden.
111th over: West Indies 405-5 (Sarwan 187 Ramdin 25)
And at the other end, Jimmy Anderson. Strauss has a first slip and a floating slip in place, as well as to men out on the hook. Help yourself, Sir... Sarwan duly does so, and swats a hook away to long leg. He and Ramdin, still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, come close to contriving a run-out through their own uncertainty and laziness. Sidebottom's throw comes in to the striker's end, and Ambrose relays it on to Anderson, who flicks the bails off moments after Ramdin slides face first into the crease. Four leg byes follow, evading Ambrose after deflecting off Sarwan's pads.
112th over: West Indies 408-5 (Sarwan 189 Ramdin 26)
South Africa have lost their first wicket, Mitchell Johnson having Neil McKenzie caught behind for 35. Ramdin drops to one knee and paddles a single away off Swann. Sarwan eases another out to backward square.
113th over: West Indies 413-5 (Sarwan 193 Ramdin 26)
Anderson drifts wide of off stump and Sarwan thumps a cut away past point for four with a truly dispiriting degree of authority. "I see from the preamble that your cheery mood has not lasted then" suggests Lynn Bashforth, rightly, "Presume the kicking contest and random scrap that attempted to masquerade as a rugby match last night didn't help. I hope Jonno kicked the lot of them around the changing room for a good hour afterwards." I'm not even going to start on that shambles; except to say that Johnson's impotent anger on the sidelines was one of the most amusing performances by an England coach since Steve McLaren got his umbrella out.
114th over: West Indies 416-5 (Sarwan 196 Ramdin 27)
Sarwan turns Swann this way and that at his ease, gathering runs as easily as a man collecting windfall apples.
115th over: West Indies 420-5 (Sarwan 200 Ramdin 27)
Sarwan slices four away over the slips' heads for the four runs he needs to raise his second Test double century. The ball snicked off the shoulder of the bat and still cleared a leaping Strauss by a foot or so. He chops the next ball down into the turf by his feet, drawing sighs of imprecation from assorted desperate Englishmen. Anyways, Strauss' double took him 296 balls, and included 21 fours and two sixes.
116th over: West Indies 423-5 (Sarwan 201 Ramdin 29)
"Pre-dawn here in San Francisco," Jeremy Bunting tells me "Your Preamble was so depressing, and rightly so. Should I go back to bed?"
Yes. Yes you should.
117th over: West Indies 423-5 (Sarwan 201 Ramdin 29)
Anderson pitches up a yorker and the ball raps Ramdin on the pad in front of leg-stump. England appeal but decide not to refer it after Tiffin shakes his head. A maiden from Anderson. South Africa are now 103-1, Smith having raised his fifty. They need another 351 runs.
118th over: West Indies 431-5 (Sarwan 208 Ramdin 30)
Anderson seems to have just had a message passed out from the dressing room that his LBW appeal in the last over was hitting leg stump - or at least so Hawkeye says - and he's now spitting feathers that it wasn't referred. Sidebottom, looking as patently unfit as he has done right through the last nine months, comes on for a crack. He's sloping into the wicket, and his speed is down around 79mph. Sarwan glances a four to fine-leg - curiously it is his first leg-side four - and then clips three runs out to mid-wicket, where Anderson pulls off a fine diving stop.
119th over: West Indies 431-5 (Sarwan 208 Ramdin 30)
Tough to see where this match is going to be honest. I think the real story is going to be unfolding at the Wanderers. This game is drifting slowly towards an unexciting destination. Another maiden from Anderson.
120th over: West Indies 431-5 (Sarwan 208 Ramdin 30) Sidebottom swings his first ball back into Sarwan's pads, and hits him in front but a little high. Umpire Dar turns it down and after sounding out Sidebottom's grumbles Strauss decides to refer it... Much good may it do him; the ball did not pitch in line and England have now used up all their referrals for the innings. Sidebottom goes on to bowl out a maiden.
121st over: West Indies 431-5 (Sarwan 208 Ramdin 30)
Here's Jonny Sultoon: "I've noticed that the counties are trying their utmost to help those lovely Australian boys, Stuart Clark, Marcus North and Philip Hughes bed in before the summer. Why oh why do they keep doing this? I thought their job remit was to aid the not hinder it."
122nd over: West Indies 432-5 (Sarwan 209 Ramdin 30)
Christopher Buckingham purports to be a senior lecturer in computer science, and for some reason I can't quite fathom I feel that somehow adds extra weight to his email. What do you think? "All the commentators are doubting whether hawkeye is correct and I also think that the ball is missing when seen live, especially Gayle's and Anderson's recent one that he did not refer. However, what is happening is that our eyes cannot adjust quickly enough to the change in direction after the ball bounces and so we are still following the line taken through the air, especially if the distance between pitching and hitting the pad is short. If Hawkeye is correctly calibrated, then it is quite likely that it is getting the new direction correct, in which case it is a better predictor than we are. This will completely change the way umpires and wickets are given if Hawkeye's influence is increased and is one of the reasons why everyone is giving Hare such a hard time: he is seeing the change in direction after the bounce and believing it."
123rd over: West Indies 436-5 (Sarwan 213 Ramdin 30)
Broad is on now, for his turn at playing Sisyphus. "I'm surprised that you think this game is inexorably drifting" opines Gary Naylor, "A couple of quick wickets, a swift wrap-up of this innings and England have a challenge. Make 240 in 40 overs and set 350 to win in 110 overs. We'd have a match then all right." Gary didn't know it when he wrote that email, but he's just won our caption competition for the adjacent picture. In the meantime, Sarwan has thrashed four more through extra cover.
124th over: West Indies 436-5 (Sarwan 213 Ramdin 30)
Sidebottom continues with another maiden over.
125th over: West Indies 438-5 (Sarwan 214 Ramdin 30)
Glory be! An original argument about technology in cricket! Kudos to John Starbuck for finding something that hasn't been said before on the topic, and do you know, it's not a bad suggestion: "Technological assistance could work if they got it the right way round. Forget about a third umpire and a TV set. What we need is umpires deciding if they need more evidence, then using their own 3G phone or similar to examine whatever they want, including full Hawkeye, and making up their own minds. Building in a contractual obligation to the TV transmission companies will ensure the technology is provided."
126th over: West Indies 445-5 (Sarwan 219 Ramdin 30)
A cracking drive from Sarwan fetches him four more through long-off, though truth be told he was aiming a little wider. It's a good thing he is scoring freely because at the other end Denesh Ramdin has become entirely constipated. In Jo'Burg, Smith is out, which could be crucial. He's been caught off Hilfenhaus at mid-on, off a miss-hit pull, for 69. His side are now 130-2.
127th over: West Indies 445-5 (Sarwan 219 Ramdin 30)
A maiden over from Broad to Sarwan.
128th over: West Indies 448-5 (Sarwan 222 Ramdin 32)
Paul Collingwood has come on for a fiddle. The last time England took 20 wickets in a match, a quick bit of Statsguru work shows me, was at The Oval against South Africa last August. Sheesh. "If Hawkeye was so bloody good do you think there would have been 150, 000 dead in Iraq. "collateral" damage. I feel like having a tantrum." Strange fellow, Colin Wood. We tolerate his eccentric musings because he was the master craftsman behind . And, having found his muse so successfully, pretty much anything he does now is OK by me. Even if it is as nonsensical as that email.
129th over: West Indies 448-5 (Sarwan 222 Ramdin 32)
"Isn't the problem with Mr Starbuck's suggestion about giving the umpires flashy phones that they would be watching the Test in Jo-Burg like the rest of us?" suggests Gary Naylor, quite rightly.
130th over: West Indies 453-5 (Sarwan 223 Ramdin 36)
Collingwood tries a crafty off-cutter and Ramdin tickles the thinnest of edges behind into Ambrose's gloves. Or so England think. They appeal, raucously, but Aleem Dar is unconvinced and shakes his head. They've no referral to use, more is the pity for them. Ramdin responds by slicing the next delivery for four through third man.
131st over: West Indies 453-5 (Sarwan 223 Ramdin 36)
"I hate to make things even more complicated," says Malcolm McNeill, who is clearly relishing the prospect of making things more complicated, "but according to quantum physics and Built To Spill lyrics, observing a process will change it. So theoretically it's actually impossible to be 100% certain that the ball would have hit the stumps, however skilled the observer is. Obviously the Umpires and Hawkeye have to watch, but in doing so they are altering the flight of the ball (a bit)." Right. Yes. Clearly what this match needs to brighten it up is a long, ill-informed debate about Schrödinger's concept of Verschränkung and the Copenhagen interpretation as it applies to cricket.
132nd over: West Indies 455-5 (Sarwan 225 Ramdin 37)
Much like Brian O'Driscoll's deliciously gnomic utterance about Martin Johnson the other night () Colin Wood's musings have prompted a little speculation about just what exactly he may mean. Here, Mac Millings has a stab:
"What I think wandering troubadour Colin Wood (127th over) means is either:
a) Hawkeye was the same technology that wasn't quite as accurate at aiming missiles as we'd been led to believe, or
b) if Beefy was watching the Test during his yearly trip to Iraq to annoy the troops, and saw yet another dodgy referral, his enormous head might explode resulting in widespread carnage. And relief in the commentary box, and countless cricket-watching homes."
Yes well, well done Mac. Why don't you have a stab at Colin's follow-up missive: "Cant believe it. I am "watching" two commentaries on the guardian. How Boheme. The old obo. old body odour. Fixing my cleats onto my cheap lidl cycling shoes. Can life get any more inspiring! I had to cancel my sky subscription due to the County Clipper Bat syndrome."
Good luck with that one, Mac.
133rd over: West Indies 461-5 (Sarwan 225 Ramdin 42)
KP is on now, because, well, because, why not? Actually he's on because Swann has been off the field for a stretch and has to wait a while before he can bowl again. Ramdin punches two to cover, sweeps another pair to fine leg and takes a single too.
134th over: West Indies 469-5 (Sarwan 225 Ramdin 44)
Ramdin whistles a pull shot just past Cook's bobbing helmet at short leg and away for a run.
135th over: West Indies 469-5 (Sarwan 227 Ramdin 47)
An entirely unthreatening over from KP.
136th over: West Indies 475-5 (Sarwan 227 Ramdin 50)
Collingwood bungs down a bouncer which flies away past a surprised Ambrose and away for four byes. Yes, really. I'm not making that up. Moments later, Ramdin raises his fifty. Here's Richard Jones, baffling and beguiling in equal measure: "Old top, this is all about cats and entanglement (verschränkung) of the Gordian type in the thought processes of atomic structure as first put forward or backward (he was colourblind) by John Dalton. The cat of course has negative mass rather like the England team but also, and this is the conundrum more neatly stated by Zwingli until he fell ill with aphorism, a positive charge rather like the Windies. This drives the cat into a repressive intermediate vortex of harmonic diminution, although nobody is sure whether the centrifrugality inside the vortex is feliniously experienced in a clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion."
Can't believe I printed that Richard. You've just cost me me final few hundred readers.
137th over: West Indies 481-5 (Sarwan 228 Ramdin 55)
Swann is on now, and Ramdin has stepped away to leg and carved him cleanly away through cover for four.
138th over: West Indies 483-5 (Sarwan 228 Ramdin 57)
West Indies enter the final over of the session - bowled by Collingwood - some 118 runs behind. That's just woeful: Strauss fields the ball at short leg, and then limp-wrists a truly pathetic throw to the non-striker's end. No one is standing there to field it, mind, and the ball floats away for a single overthrow.
That's lunch in Barbados, and it's also stumps in Jo'burg. Where South Africa close on 178-2, the two not out batsmen being Amla on 43 and Kallis on 26. They need another 276 runs tomorrow to create history and shatter whatever semblance of self-belief the Aussies still have left into thousands of tiny pieces. Tee hee.
139th over: West Indies 488-5 (Sarwan 229 Ramdin 61)
Sarwan strolls out, plucks up a bail and bashes it into the turf to mark out his guard. He's been at the crease for 592 minutes now, and frankly, I don't think he's going anywhere else any time soon. Anderson opens the attack, and Sarwan immediately taps a run out to mid-wicket. His next ball skips low off the pitch and slides past Ramdin's off-stump. Whatever hope that provided for the fielders is quickly evaporated by the thumping square drive to the next ball, which vanishes over the cover boundary before anyone watching can even blink.
140th over: West Indies 490-5 (Sarwan 232 Ramdin 61)
And at the other end, in a signal of real intent, Paul Collingwood opens the attack for the session. It is one of the most harmless, threat-free overs I've seen outside of declaration bowling.
141st over: West Indies 493-5 (Sarwan 233 Ramdin 61)
Cricket - This from the Sydney Morning Herald:
"Paul Campbell, of the Australian National University in Canberra, uncovered a reference to the sport in a 1533 poem, attributed to John Skelton, a popular poet and playwright of the day, in which he links cricket to immigrants from Flanders, in modern day Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
In The Image Of Ipocrisie Skelton also appears to rail against the Flemish weavers who settled in southern and eastern England from the 14th century, labelling them dismissively as "kings of crekettes".
In what appears to be a call for the weavers to be driven out of England, Skelton writes: "O lorde of Ipocrites/Nowe shut vpp your wickettes/And clape to your clickettes!/A! Farewell, kings of crekettes!"
The poem is the earliest known reference to the sport."
Thanks to Scott Poynting for the link.
142nd over: West Indies 497-5 (Sarwan 237 Ramdin 61)
Srawan spanks a drive through long-on for four as Collingwood continues to ply his allsorts.
143rd over: West Indies 497-5 (Sarwan 237 Ramdin 61)
Sarwan swings and misses for the first time in recent memory, then cuts the ball into the turf by his feet. Anderson is bowling well, or at least with plenty of heart and endeavour. Again Sarwan swings and misses, but it's slender consolation you sense.
144th over: West Indies 497-5 (Sarwan 238 Ramdin 61)
Sarwan strolls a single, and then Collingwood shows off his bouncer again, having Ramdin ducking out of the way. The fifth ball is an authentic leg cutter, which shades the outside edge. Pietersen, clearly bored out of his mind, leans forward into a crouch and then balances on his flat palms, holding himself up off the floor.
145th over: West Indies 501-5 (Sarwan 242 Ramdin 61)
Ravi Bopara is on for the first time today, and his first ball is belted through wide long-on for four by Sarwan. That brings up the 500. Here's Adam Pervoe with some pertinent points for frustrated England fans everywhere:
"What I'd like to know is where does this tour leave us? What have we learnt? That on flat tracks, against innocuous attacks we can get big first innings totals. We have learnt that Swann is a useful bowler and has probably supplanted Monty for the foreseeable. Ravi is, and always has been, a better bet in the middle order but like Shah is better suited to 5 0r 6. But with the exception of Broad and Anderson we are missing a fourth seamer of any quality and if Flintoff is not firing with the ball our attack looks very light. If we can't take 20 Windies wickets(or the 3 that count) how are we going to get out Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Katich and now North? If the Aussies had a half decent attack I wouldn't give us a prayer this summer." We've left Harmison in the set up for too long and brought no alternative through. Simon Joneses fitness has never been so important as now
146th over: West Indies 508-5 (Sarwan 242 Ramdin 66)
Adam Pervoe's email address, from that last over, tells me he works for Slim Jim's Liquor Store, which is a late night booze proprietor just around the corner from my flat in North London. He doesn't know this, but nearly every other saturday night I'll be out drinking in the near vicinity, and, perpetually stuck for somewhere to go past pub-closing time, I wander up to his establishment in search of another drink. It looks very nice from the outside. I've no idea what the interior is like though, because the bouncer never lets me in. Never. Not once in four visits. Apparently Slim Jim's is always full. Either that or the security staff just don't like the cut of my jib.
147th over: West Indies 513-5 (Sarwan 242 Ramdin 71)
Ramdin strides out and threads a drive for four through the off side. A stylish shot and no mistake. The partnership is now worth 178. That becomes 179 after Ramdin executes a dinky little back-cut to third man.
148th over: West Indies 515-5 (Sarwan 242 Ramdin 72)
A single out to the off side takes Ramdin to his highest score in Test cricket. Played sirrah. His previous was 71 against Australia, part, Tony Cozier tells us, of a fine stand with Dwayne Bravo. The Windies have Bravo to return this side of course, which will make them a deal stronger still. He's just making his comeback from injury at the moment. I presume he would be slotted in in place of either Powell or Hinds when the Windies come to England in the early summer.
149th over: West Indies 517-5 (Sarwan 243 Ramdin 73)
Strauss has Bopara operating at the Malcolm Marshall end and Paul Collingwood at the Joel Garner end. Sigh.
150th over: West Indies 519-5 (Sarwan 246 Ramdin 73)
"I see that England have adopted the Strauss Method on the Naylor Theorem to effect porcine aviation a/k/a 'game on' (123rd over)" writes LH Roper with a convoluted but still eloquent construction, "bring on Bopara and Collingwood to induce a torpor in Sarwan and Ramdin so that they will play anything; then, Broad, Anderson, et al. mop up the tail, etc." Sarwan plays the latest cut I've ever seen, deflecting the ball out of Ambrose's glove and away for a run to third man.
151st over: West Indies 523-5 (Sarwan 248 Ramdin 74)
Adam Pervoe, from Slim Jim's, assures me that he never normally gets on the OBO so on that score we're about even.
152nd over: West Indies 526-5 (Sarwan 251 Ramdin 74)
England are nine overs from a new ball. If anything can stop Sarwan getting to 300, or the West Indies exceeding England's 600-6, it will be that. In the meantime, Sarwan has raised his 250 with a clip to mid-wicket for two. He stops for an exuberant celebration, removing his helmet and waving his bat to and fro.
153rd over: West Indies 532-5 (Sarwan 252 Ramdin 79)
Swann is on again. By way of further explanation for my continued failure to get past the doormen at Slim Jim's, Adam explains that he has learned to be very careful with Guardian cricket writers ever since he had to my esteemed colleague Mike Selvey raising Cain in the premises some time back. Ramdin steps away and cuts the ball fine for four through long leg. A lovely shot, that.
154th over: West Indies 541-5 (Sarwan 256 Ramdin 83)
Owais Shah opens his first over of the game with a pair of full tosses, one of which is a no ball, and the second of which raises the 200 partnership. Honestly, this is just crap. Dead as this pitch may be England have produced some of the most mediocre Test match bowling I can recall through the course of this afternoon, and it's actually getting worse; this over goes for nine runs.
155th over: West Indies 546-5 (Sarwan 259 Ramdin 85)
Just moments before Nasser has the same thought, Rob Smyth suggests that Strauss should just rest his frontline bowlers ahead of the final Test - Broad has had an especially light workload today - I'm with Atherton though, who replies that the best way to rest is to bowl the Windies out and then go and have a sit down.
156th over: West Indies 556-5 (Sarwan 263 Ramdin 89)
Shah serves up another no ball, and then when he does get his foot behind the line some more filth which Sarwan eases through extra cover for a couple. He repeats the shot moments later to pass his previous Test best of 261, made against Bangladesh. Ramdin steers the final ball of the over around the corner to fine leg for four.
157th over: West Indies 559-5 (Sarwan 263 Ramdin 89)
Collingwood has a sniff of a run-out from backward point, but Sarwan managed to turn and dive back into his crease just in time. "Is there a bit of a crisis in Test match bowling?" asks Gary Naylor, "The ratings have a top ten comprising: Murali; Steyn; Clark; Johnson; Ntini; Taylor; Sidebottom; Harbhajan; Lee and Vaas. Murali is a great; Steyn and Johnson very good, Ntini admirable but the rest are past-it or relatively ordinary. Ten years ago, the top ten read: Donald; Ambrose; Pollock; Murali; McGrath; Kumble; Doull; Walsh; Wasim Akram and Streak. Which rather makes my point." Well, yes. I'm not sure it is especially pertinent to what's happening in this match, but yes, the standard of quick bowling ain't what it was, and Test cricket is suffering as a consequence. There are, it should be said, a batch iof excellent Indians who aren't yet in that contemporary top ten.
158th over: West Indies 563-5 (Sarwan 268 Ramdin 92)
Pietersen gets this over, and he's milked as easily as everyone else.
159th over: West Indies 568-5 (Sarwan 270 Ramdin 95)
With Ramdin within a single blow of his maiden Test ton, Swann brings in his fielders to close off the singles. Ramdin duly tries to slog his way to the mark but miscues and ends up with only a single.
160th over: West Indies 574-5 (Sarwan 272 Ramdin 99)
Ramdin moves a single closer as he hops out to leg and pushes Pietersen through cover. Sarwan is savvy to how nervous Ramdin is, and takes a quick single. With two balls till the new ball, Ramdin drives two runs out to cover, then clips a single to square leg to move to 99. By the standards of today's play so far, this is positively thrilling stuff.
161st over: West Indies 579-5 (Sarwan 277 Ramdin 99)
Sickened by the sight of Pietersen's woeful attempt at a doosra, Strauss immediately takes the new ball and brings on Anderson. At last this begins to feel like an actual Test match again. After three dot balls, Sarwan cuts hard and slices the ball up and over slip for four more. Anderson appeals for an LBW off an inswinger, but he's alone in his conviction that it was going to hit leg stump.
162nd over: West Indies 582-5 (Sarwan 278 Ramdin 100)
And at the other end Ryan Sidebottom has Sarwan playing and missing with an off-drive. "What I find especially disappointing about England's performance is the fact that they keep on making the same selectorial mistakes" opines Tom v d Gucht, "This is at least the third time Sidebottom has been picked despite clearly not being fit for purpose. Surely there must be at least one member of the management with the wit or gumption to recognise that he isn't fit to play at the moment." Apparently not. Though to be fair he can't be all that crocked seeing as he has got through 28 overs in this innings so far. A single puts Ramdin on strike, and he needs one more run for his maiden ton. And there it is; a single away to fine leg that prompts wild and exuberant celebrations. Quite right too. He's played excellently. Delightfully, he unfolds a piece of paper from his pocket and holds it up to the cameras. It reads: "Thanks - Bish, Williams and Ronnie". Bish is Ian Bishop, an old clubmate and presumably a mentor, Williams is an old coach of his and Ronnie is the man at the other end, aptly enough. A nice touch. Classier, certainly, than Bopara's Bolt impression.
163rd over: West Indies 587-5 (Sarwan 283 Ramdin 100)
Sarwan turns four through mid-wicket to move inexorably nearer to the game's next looming landmark.
164th over: West Indies 595-5 (Sarwan 291 Ramdin 100)
I couldn't tell you just how many times I've seen Ramnaresh Sarwan's off-drive today, but I've certainly become more familiar with it than I have the back of my own hand. He's just shown it off again, crunching another four off of Sidebottom. Strauss claps encouragement, futilely. There goes that drive again, for four more through cover. This is now the record sixth-wicket stand at Bridgetown.
165th over: West Indies 595-5 (Sarwan 291 Ramdin 100)
A maiden from Anderson, who has bowled his socks off today. Quite what's happened to Stuart Broad I'm not sure.
WICKET! Sarwan 291 b Sidebottom (166th over: West Indies 596-6 (Ramdin 100 Taylor 1)
I don't believe it.
Sidebottom serves up the inswinger and Sarwan snicks an inside edge onto his own stumps. Well. I don't really know what to say to that. Except to add that I'm damn disappointed he didn't get his triple-ton. More ludicrously still, I didn't even see the dismissal live because I'd walked away from my seat to find a copy of the Observer so I could see yesterday's scorecard and figure out how many overs Broad had got through today. All I heard was the clatter of scattering timbers, and the cry of "we've got one!" from a distant part odf the office. Reader, I could weep. Evidently astonished by his success, Sidebottom follows it up with three poor, wide deliveries to the new batsman.
167th over: West Indies 596-6 (Ramdin 100 Taylor 1)
A good maiden over from Anderson to Taylor, who did well to sway away from some bouncers and get his bat firmly behind everything else.
168th over: West Indies 607-6 (Ramdin 101 Taylor 11)
The last over of the session, I'll wager. It's come to none too soon for your nicotine and food-starved OBO correspondent. Crumbs. Whatashotthatis! Taylor clearly isn't playing for the break, anyway, because he's murdered that hook in front of backward square for six into the Greenidge and Haynes Stand. That gives West Indies the lead. Sidebottom drops short again... don't bother boy, Taylor seems to say as he hooks again, this time for four. The next ball is pitched up and Taylor swings and misses. Sidebottom is furious and let's Taylor know it with a verbal volley of abuse. A fun end to a slow session then.
169th over: West Indies 611-6 (Ramdin 105 Taylor 11)
I'm eating, not typing. Roast beef, since you asked, and I've no intention of spoiling the slender consolation it's providing me for spending my sunday here by trying to describe the play while I dine. So until I'm done score updates are all you're getting I'm afraid.
170th over: West Indies 615-6 (Ramdin 105 Taylor 15)
I wonder how long I can stretch this supper out?
171st over: West Indies 617-6 (Ramdin 106 Taylor 16)
Mmm. Gobble, scoff munch munch, gobble scoff munch.
172nd over: West Indies 632-6 (Ramdin 106 Taylor 30)
OK, I'm done, just in time to tell you about the absolute pasting Sideshow Bob is being given by Taylor in this over. The second ball was thumped down the ground for four, the fifth was slapped over mid-wicket for six with great style and the sixth - a filthy wide full toss - was slotted past point for another four. That's 14 from the over then. Ouch.
173rd over: West Indies 632-6 (Ramdin 107 Taylor 30)
Just a single from Broad's over, an unfortunately stark contrast with what's going on at the other end.
174th over: West Indies 633-6 (Ramdin 108 Taylor 30)
Sidebottom is lucky, perhaps even grateful, to have Ramdin on strike here. He's not showing the same reckless inclination to attack as his partner at the other end. This is now the tenth highest Test total in the West Indies' history.
175th over: West Indies 639-6 (Ramdin 113 Taylor 31)
"Harmy was talking about taking Strauss out to dinner to discuss his place in the team" points out Simon Verlaque, "do you suppose Sideshow has just saved him the cost of a meal?" Yup. He may still need to buy off Amjad Khan mind. Ramdin squeezes another dab away for four through third man.
176th over: West Indies 644-6 (Ramdin 114 Taylor 33)
Sidebottom is still on, mind. Ambrose makes a spectacularly athletic attempt at a run-out, as Taylor slouches a single, but the ball fizzes just wide after his diving shy at the stumps. The West Indian lead is now 44, obviously enough.
177th over: West Indies 646-6 (Ramdin 116 Taylor 35)
For the record, Mike Selvey insists he has never been to Slim Jim's in his life, and asks Adam if he's "sure it wasn't Patrick Stewart?" Hmm. Eitherway, there are 22 overs left to play tonight. That much I'm sure of. These two have now put on 50 runs together.
178th over: West Indies 650-6 (Ramdin 117 Taylor 37)
Lord. Bopara is on again. Justin Barrett's email is titled "Keeping it highbrow..." and it reads like this: "Following on from learned OBOers erudite musings on Schrodinger et al, how about a half-arsed discussion on the existence or otherwise of free will. For instance, did Sidebottom make bad decisions in life, or was he biologically programmed to become fat and useless?"
Cruel. For a time, a brief time, he was a genuinely great Test bowler; parsimonious, accurate and with a potent wicket-taking threat thanks to his late swing. That's all no more though, sadly.
179th over: West Indies 654-6 (Ramdin 117 Taylor 42)
Broad's LBW against Taylor appeal dies in his throat as umpire Tiffin shakes his head, presumably because he thought it was going down the leg side. By way of response Broad drops short. Foolish idea. Taylor picks the ball up with a flashing pull shot and deposits it over mid-wicket for four.
180th over: West Indies 666-6 (Ramdin 124 Taylor 49)
Tess Kay has been in a "bizarre parallel Test universe, courtesy of Sky's subtitlers? An intriguing land where Sarwan spent the day scoring down the lakeside and the ton before tea came from the splendid Brandon. These are of course the people who went to Beijing last summer to report back on the Limpet Games." I always thought those folk have one of the toughest jobs going, it's the only way to explain just how terrible they are at it. Apart from, that is, the lot of the England's bowlers today. Bopara tries a slower ball out of the back of the hand and Taylor demolishes it with a thunderous lofted off-drive that crashes the ball over the rope and into the sightscreen for six. A single puts Ramdin on strike and he demonstrates that late glance again to fetch himself four more to third man.
The West Indies are now 666-6, 66 ahead of England. Read into that whatever you like. Just don't do it while you're walking widdershins around a church or standing in a chalk pentangle.
WICKET! Taylor 53 b Swann (181st over: West Indies 674-7 (Ramdin 124 Benn 2)
Taylor eases another ignominious four away to the off side, past backward point. And then...he's out. Good bowling by Swann - who has just come on - firing an arm ball through Taylor's defences and into the top of off stump. He has the good grace not to bother celebrating. Swann then switches around the wicket, and watches Benn turn him away for two runs to third man.
182nd over: West Indies 683-7 (Ramdin 133 Benn 2)
Collingwood is on now. A contretemps between Gower and Hussain about whether England should play two spinners in T&T is cut short by a cry of "catch!" (less of a cry actually, more of a plaintive plea) as Ramdin chops the ball past slip for four. He does it again to the next ball and adds another boundary to his haul. "You know," deadpans Quebecer, "two more wickets and I reckon we're through 'em."
183rd over: West Indies 692-7 (Ramdin 134 Benn 10)
Insert your own Batman-style soundeffect here (KAPOW! BLAMMO! etc etc) as Benn slogs a four through cow corner. To complete a thoroughly rustic duo Benn adds a Chinese cut for four from the final ball.
184th over: West Indies 696-7 (Ramdin 135 Benn 11)
On and on and on and on it goes, longer even than the Longpigs' love. Longer even than Ariston.
185th over: West Indies 700-7 (Ramdin 136 Benn 14)
A single to long-on raises the 700, only the fourth time that the West Indies have passed that mark in Test cricket.
WICKET! Benn 14 c Ambrose b Anderson (186th over: West Indies 704-8 (Ramdin 136 Powell 3)
Anderson returns, a little overdue perhaps, and promptly takes a wicket. He digs in a bouncer and Benn swings, snicking a catch through behind to Ambrose. My computer has crashed in disgust at this shambles. I don't blame it.
187th over: West Indies 710-8 (Ramdin 138 Powell 4)
Four byes scoot past Ambrose. "Let's be realistic here," suggests Tom v d Gucht, "England are going to lose this aren't they? The Windies will get a lead of about 100 before a tired and dispirited English batting display collapses into panic, ala Sabina park 09, leading to another innings defeat. Meanwhile I'll be sat at home with a solemn look on my face as I switch off TMS and instead listen to the sobering and haunting music from the end of Gallipoli, which will I suspect will be an acurate musical summation of my feelings of despondency, whilst watching England fall apart in tragic fashion one again."
188th over: West Indies 713-8 (Ramdin 139 Powell 5)
England's collective body language right now is appalling. 'Hangdog' would about cover it. But then I guess when you're being carted to all parts of the ground by a pair of batsmen -Taylor and Ramdin - with a combined Test batting average of 39 you've good reason to be miserable.
189th over: West Indies 725-8 (Ramdin 152 Powell 5)
I try not to swear when I write these things, as a rule, but sometimes other words fail. Ramdin steps out and thrashes Swann away through cover for one glorious four, and then steps out to hoik a towering drive to cow corner, where Sidebottom makes a truly embarrassing effort to field the ball, misjudging its flight entirely and letting it plop down on the turf a yard to his right and then skip over the rope for four. Poor Sidebottom. Strauss and Swann both go absolutely ballistic on him, turning the air blue with their curses. Ramdin carts the sixth ball of the over through long-off for four more to raise his 150. This is now his best score in first class cricket.
190th over: West Indies 732-8 (Ramdin 157 Powell 6)
What a treat: here, anonymously, is one of the aforementioned Sky subtitlers:
"I am one of the Sky subtitlers (not at work today), and it is indeed very hard. It's done using voice recognition software, which can be quite tempremental. We get about 97.5% accuracy, but of course people only remember the mistakes. Bit like being a Premier League referee I suppose." Yes. A bit. I suppose. Oh brother. Ramdin chops four more through third man.
191st over: West Indies 736-8 (Ramdin 157 Powell 7)
England think they've taken Powell's wicket, a catch popping up to Alastair Cook at short leg off Powell's glove. Unfortunately umpire Tiffin doesn't agree. The next ball slices through Powell's gate and runs away for four byes.
192nd over: West Indies 741-8 (Ramdin 162 Powell 9)
England are as ragged as a squad of hobos making a half-hearted hustle for a spare dime by the rail yards. The look in need of chicken soup and clean sheets. Or better still, perhaps, a cold beer.
193rd over: West Indies 744-8 (Ramdin 164 Powell 10)
The lead is now a really quite imposing 142. No, no make that 143. That's a truly bizarre shot; Powell tries to reverse sweep, but fails to turn the bat around in his hands and so tries to play the shot with the back of the bat. Amateur. This was Swann's fiftieth over of the innings, a titanic effort. He's taken 4 for 164 in that time.
194th over: West Indies 748-8 (Ramdin 166 Powell 12)
Oh good. Collingwood is on again. England have a third man in now so Ramdin's stalwart ploy of playing the late cut to every third ball is only bringing him a single each time he plays it now. Here's Indy Neogy: "1,300 runs for 13 wickets... Perhaps the MouthoftheMersey would be ready to retract his day one claim that "there's nothing wrong with this pitch for Test cricket"?" Powell and Ramdin swap singles and this is now the third highest total in the history of West Indian Test cricket.
WICKET! Ramdin 166 b Swann 195th over: West Indies 749-9 (Powell 12)
Stone me. Swann gets his fifth wicket, clean bowling Ramdin, and Gayle decides to declare! Well well, England will have to face a couple of overs before stumps. The West Indies 749 is the ninth-highest Test total in history. Ouch.
So what odds something truly and utterly horrible happening for England now? Swann, by the way, finished with his second successive five-wicket haul (5-165) and he hardly bothered celebrating it at all. The rest of the bowlers mustered 4-586 between them.
1st over: England 2-0 (Cook 0 Strauss 1)
The players are all out and waiting to start, but the roller is still going up and down the wicket, a little surreally. Strauss looks vaguely disgusted by thew whole thing. Fidel Edwards will open the attack, a little piqued by the fact his captain denied him the chance to have a merry swing of his bat. Crikey. His first ball is an 88mph snorter that pitches back of a length on off stump and shoots past the outside edge. The next is a no-ball, as well as a 90mph bouncer.
2nd over: England 6-0 (Cook 0 Strauss 5)
This is no joke for England, no joke at all. The ball is keeping a little low, and also flying through. The West Indies, with the pressure off, are going to have a real shot at winning this tomorrow. Taylor is off the field at the moment, so the last over of the day goes to Daren Powell. Strauss taps two to mid-wicket, and pushes two more down the ground. So Powell does his best to decapitate him with a bouncer.
At stumps England trail by 143. Tomorrow may not be a write-off after all, because the West Indies are going to have a real crack at winning this match, and no one has bowled as well on this pitch as Edwards.
There is also, of course, that final day thriller to unfold in Jo'burg. Should be a good day's cricket. As was today really, painful though it was at points. Here's a thoughtful final email from James Wrout: "five years ago Windies got 751 for 5 against us - our seamers that match Hoggard, Flintoff, Jones and Harmison. So, Anderson, Broad, Sideshow and er Bopara are due to be the Fabulous Four of the Future." Mmmm.
Cheerio all, thanks for the email and company. I'll see you back here tomorrow.