Welcome to the final day of the 28th and last ever Wisden Trophy match. England need eight wickets to regain it and hold it for the 11th time, placing it, no doubt, in the Lord’s museum. West Indies, by contrast, require 389 runs to win it for the 15th time and hold superiority both in England and the Caribbean, or survive 98 overs to retain it and rack up a fifth drawn series.
Après le déluge, Stuart Broad will bound in, looking for the wicket that will make him the fourth quick – after Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath and Jimmy Anderson – to reach 500 Test wickets and the seventh bowler in all, though the spinners are over the hill and far away in terms of catching them.
Complaints before and during Monday’s washout that Joe Root’s declaration was far too conservative were, I think, wrong. England captains, stung by Lord’s 1984, have always wanted more runs to defend ever since David Gower was persuaded by chairman of selectors Peter May to seduce West Indies into going for victory. It backfired so spectacularly that ever since cricket’s third dimension, time, has been an equal consideration to runs and wickets, as it should be.
It was the same during the second Test, when England’s patience paid off and, with three supreme bowlers in English conditions, plus Jofra Archer’s pace and the possibility of Ben Stokes, as he said on Friday, feeling fit enough to bowl in the second innings, never mind Jason Holder’s thumb injury and Shane Dowrich’s blow to the face, if England cannot take eight wickets today it would call their skill rather than their judgment into doubt.
Jacques Kallis (Walsh), Hashan Tillakaratne (Warne), Marcus Trescothick (McGrath) Michael Kasprowicz (Murali), Steve Harmison (Anil Kumble), Kraigg Brathwaite (Anderson) have all been 500th Test victims. Their club, too, ought to have a new member today. Unless, of course it’s Brathwaite again, blocking entry to prospective candidates for a club that might never, after today, expand its list.