Test Poised Heading into Day 5

At one point yesterday afternoon it appears as though we'd be heading into Day 5 with a draw the most likely result, that may still happen, but thanks to a West Indies surge and an England collapse in the evening session of day 4, we've got a chance for a result (who'd vote for 4-day tests? That's another discussion for another day).


England resume day 5 on 284-8, but it could have been so much better. England were 249-3 before a run of 5 wickets for just 30 runs left the West Indies in the driving seat with England leading by just 170 runs. The p[itch is starting to show signs of deterioration but the Windies will be confident of chasing a sub 200 score. With no established batsmen left for England, they have an uphill battle to extend that run towards the 200 mark, what a great time for Archer to show some form with the bat.


Zak Crawley starred on day three with a composed 76 off 127 balls, leaving the Kent man the favourite to keep his place when captain Joe Root returns for the 2nd test. Joe Denly again failed to cement his spot chipping Roston Chase to Jason Holder for just 29, another start, another failure to convert. With the potential of 22-year-old Zak Crawley, England can't afford to give 34-year-old Denly any more chances.


Ben Stokes played a number of exquisite drives through extra cover and mid-on, and looked to be coasting to another half-century, however, Holder decided to insert two gulleys in the hope of getting a thick edge off the bat of Stokes, and the stand-in England captain obliged. It was Stokes wicket that started the collapse with Crawley, Buttler, Pope and Bess all falling as the light faded on a beautiful day at the Ageas Bowl.


Buttler's single figure score leaves a huge question mark over his position in the side. With an Old Trafford test on the horizon, I imagine England will give Jos one more chance to make a claim to the spot. However, we can't ignore the fact that over his last 27 innings dating back to the start of 2019, he has averaged just 21.48, nowhere near good enough to be an automatic selection for England. With Ben Foakes waiting in the wings with a 40+ average, the pressure on Jos to make runs on his home ground will be immense.


So here we are, entering day 5 with everything to play for. England will be hoping that Archer, Wood and Anderson can add another 20-30 runs to more the chase towards 200. The West Indies will hope to skittle the tail in the first few overs and then take their time in the run chase. England will need their bowling attack to be on form if they hope to avoid going 1-0 down in the series, and you have to imagine that Dom Bess will have a big say in this result before the day is through.


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