A penny for Stuart Broad’s thoughts as he prepares for bed this evening. Ollie Pope admitted to some anxieties when he ended day one unbeaten in the 90s. Imagine how anxious Broad will be in the nervous 490s.
He’s on 499, to be exact. The 34-year old is on the cusp of becoming only the second Englishman to make it to 500 Test wickets thanks to six he picked up here on day three in seven overs split across morning and evening. Of course, his Sunday evening slumber will be restful. It’s the West Indies batsmen who will be breaking out in cold sweats.
The early rise brought with it an 18th five-wicket haul for Broad in the form of six for 31, as West Indies were bowled out for 197 in reply to England’s 369. The late dash saw John Campbell and nightwatchman Kemar Roach edge through to Joe Root and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler respectively.
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Despite missing the first Test, Broad’s 14 dismissals are the most of any bowler this series. And as the England team walked off with their opponents 10 for two chasing a most unlikely 399, the only tinge of disappointment was that Broad did not get that final wicket to cap it all off.
But, there will always be tomorrow and, beyond then, enough time for England to secure a win that gives them a 2-1 series victory and the Wisden Trophy. Coming into this third Test they knew they would have to beat the weather as well as their opponents. And though the last two days have played out contrary to the expected rain, Monday is not expected to go the same way.
Nevertheless, Broad’s influence has sped this series along. Six vital wickets in the second Test were followed on Saturday by an outlandish 62 off 45 deliveries and two evening wickets. But it was the four this morning that were perhaps the most vital. For not only did it bring the West Indies first innings down, but the four-over spell of four for 14 shook England out of a ropey start.
Despite learning from their mistake of omitting him from the first Test, the morning started with the threat of sabotaging another potential win by not starting Broad from the Brian Statham End.
Jofra Archer, completing an over from the night before, and Chris Woakes began day three while Broad and James Anderson watched on, perhaps slightly bemused. If they were not too full for Holder, they weren’t effectively short to Dowrich. Holder drove fluently, Dowrich ducked easily.
The follow-on target of 170 was passed with a pull from Holder off Woakes which in itself magnified the angst on the field, not least for Woakes. A slight over-step of the front line meant he lost the wicket of the West Indies captain, brilliantly caught at midwicket by Ollie Pope.
It was down to Broad to bag Holder himself three balls into his spell. A double-wicket maiden contained Rahkeem Cornwall trapped LBW and Kemar Roach caught low at first slip for number five. And when number six arrived 13 deliveries later – Dowrich failing to clear Chris Woakes at mid-on – so did the end of West Indies’ first innings, giving up a lead of 172.
The Broad-induced excitement bookended a middle period of tedium. Even the purists will have some trouble lauding England’s 76 runs from 28 overs. Adding to its ramshackle nature were the injuries sustained to Dowrich and Holder: the keeper busting his top lip when a 90mph delivery from Shannon Gabriel flew through his mitts, the captain busting a finger when a deliver fell short of him at second slip.
Both opening batsmen Rory Burns and Dom Sibley tried and failed to tick along to the off-spin of Roston Chase and Rahkeem Cornwall. Burns, though, had the most trouble and was lucky to have been allowed safe return to his crease when, on 12, he ran past a delivery from Chase, undone by turn out of the footmarks in front of his off stump that he had intended to cover. The turn, though, was so pronounced that substitute wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva had ground to cover to get the ball back to the stumps. Just as he was within flicking distance, his left foot gave way causing him to slip and miss them completely.
That combination of Chase and da Silva would eventually get Burns. But by then, the opener had notched 90 and was in search of those last remaining few to a third Test hundred. And with that dismissal – a dab sweep that looped to the keeper – Joe Root (68 not out), at the other end having skipped his way to his 49th half-century from 49 deliveries, called the innings to a close on 226 for two.
It should be noted that Burns was more accomplished after the life, charging the spinners for more sweeps that became particularly productive as fielders grew weary. Together with Sibley the first wicket partnership extended to 114, the highest by English openers at home since Alastair Cook and Alex Hales against Pakistan in August 2016, some 46 innings ago.
As such, it’s probably not worth reflecting on the tedium of that first spell, though there’s nothing wrong with labelling it so. There was another bit of good fortune for Burns when an LBW appeal turned down from Cornwall turned out to have everything going for it apart from the belief of stand-in captain Kraigg Brathwaite to sent it for a review.
Two full sessions will probably be enough for England to take the remaining eight wickets. It’s just a case of whether there will be enough time to get that in. The hosts, though, are not worried. The only thing that has been more unreliable than West Indies batsmen over the last week in Manchester has been the forecast.
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