England's red ball reset doesn't restart

Top order failed, and so has their sugarfree bowling lineup.

England is having a red ball reset. That sounds terrible, and I would prescribe looser underwear and a steroid cream.

The reset seems to be extremely familiar. Collapsing in the top order, having a new opener fail, and saved by two of their three keepers.

And then the new experimental England lite bowling attack, with zero calories. They were all over the place in the first twenty overs with the ball.

How is it even possible to allow Kraigg Brathwaite to score at a run a ball for any period of time?

This as the quickest Brathwaite he scored 20, 30, 40 and 50 runs, Cricviz said it was in Tests. I would guess it might have been his fastest in any form of cricket he ever played.

The bowlers were all over the place. Their line was bizarre, CricViz told me that they were bowling at the stumps 28% of the time, the global average is 11%. That is great if you’re in the fourth innings and the ball is rolling. That can be worked if you’re on a flat pitch with a hard ball. But the bigger problem is how often they missed that line and were down leg side. Woakes and Overton are known for their control, and they had none.

As for the new-look bowling, I liked this comment on Cricinfo.

This is something that I wrote about before the series even started.

This brand new bowling attack where the least used bowler was Overton in his seventh Test, and combined, they had 93 Tests. We knew what they could do with Broaderson; chances are it was going to be roughly the same without them.

If they went with a bunch of bowlers we don’t know anything about, or hadn’t seen much of, then that would be something. But while I have questions about Broaderson, I don’t truly understand going in with a very well known second-string bowling lineup is. If Fisher, Mahmood or Parkinson were in this side, that would be an easier sell. But they went with the bowlers we know, and they struggled.

But it gets worse of course, because this is English (red ball) cricket. One of the reasons I worried about not having either Anderson or Broad in the side, was an injury. Now Ollie Robinson is not that fit, and he was always a chance of not playing all three matches. Him getting injured was unfortunate. Because no matter how you rank them, that means that England went into this Test without their four best bowlers.

Two by choice.

Had Anderson or Broad been in the squad, you at least allow yourself some protection.

Had Anderson or Broad been in the squad, and one of them ended up on the field, I assume England would have gone about this differently. They may still have gone for runs early on; that can happen to anyone. But they would have bowled dry when they saw how easy it was for the West Indian batters to trust the ball and pitch.

They were often derided by the English press and fans, that defensive width or length. And that is because they took wickets by controlling the runs per over. I think both probably defaulted to defence too early and often. But they have over 1000 wickets between them. In this situation, it just made sense.

Instead, West Indies were 44 runs after ten overs, with Brathwaite and playing for lunch. So that’s really worth 60 runs in normal times.

That became 84 runs after twenty. Many of those came from Jack Leach, who had to bowl to slow the game down. But then got attacked, because that is now Leach’s thing. Meaning that he went for 11 runs in an over, and that didn’t work either.

None of this matters too much in the game, as West Indies then lost their minds. John Campbell lost a wicket to a short ball down leg side by playing a hook flap. Brathwaite followed that by nicking off to a wide half volley. Shamarh Brooks went out to a decent ball, but he also really pushed himself at a ball he didn’t need too. The fourth wicket was Jermaine Blackwood who took an inside edge off a reverse swinging ball and was caught at slip.

The last two wickets were more regular, but they were made available by the first two. And it wasn’t just that, Blackwood was dropped, and they tried to run themselves at one point.

All those chances allowed England back into the game. But they gave away their advantage when they completely wasted the new ball on a new-ball wicket. We saw - like yesterday - the ball just became a dog toy, and so the important thing was to use it when it was on their side.

And the person who used it worse was the player England needed to learn the least about. There will be a lot said about leading the attack, but Chris Woakes isn’t just learning to lead, he needs to work out how to take wickets overseas. He had a dukes in his hand and John Campbell in front of him. And what did he produce, full tosses, half volleys on the bats, loose wide ones and the entire thing just looked terrible. This was a soft launch, and ihe still bubmbled it. 10 deliveries in his first eleven overs were going to miss leg stump.

That isn't one poor ball an over, it's shit.

It would be unfair to say that this means Woakes can’t play overseas as a leader of the attack. This is just one Test. Although, there is all the others as well. His average away from home is 52. Analyst wise, I have to admit that there is nothing in his game that should produce those numbers. But he does, everytime he leaves his timezone. When he travels, so does the ball. England knew that before, and they know that now.

If this was a reset, it was like when your computer is going slow, and you restart it only to find it doesn’t come back on.

Andrew Strauss had said England that they were on a fact-finding mission. Well the fact is they bowled shit and got lucky. Day one of the new English bowling attack was not a success.