On Tour in the Windies

Geoff Wellsteed has completed his blog about his trip to the three-match Test Series in the Caribbean, finishing in Grenada

Sunday, 27 March 2022 (Day 4, Grenada)
Predictably it was all over in ninety minutes. Well stuffed but let's be magnanimous in defeat. The Windies outplayed England and deserved to win. Some of the optimistic Barmies dreamed of another Headingley '81 performance but it was not to be.

The autopsy will be painful and protracted. Will Root and Collingwood find a P45 pushed under their bedroom door? From a distance it feels if the dressing room is all a bit too cosy. Someone feisty needs to be recruited and impart a few home truths and not just on the playing front.

How about ousting Harrison and persuading Nasser into that job? Could Flower be eked out of his IPL job and given the coaching hot seat again? Both are sharp cookies, experienced campaigners, opinionated, demanding, driven and have 'an edge'. Just a thought.

In the meantime the ECB will smugly content themselves that although the new Richards & Botham trophy has been lost the old Wisden trophy has been retained in perpetuity by virtue of England's 2020 series win. Perhaps it will all be different in Pakistan later this year. Can't wait.

Saturday, 26 March (Day 3, Grenada)
I have witnessed some lows watching England over the years but this was a new nadir. In fact it was a day of unmitigated disaster. England folded like a pack of cards. At the start of play the bookmakers would have had the Windies slight favourites but the expectation of supporters of both sides was that England would bat for most of today and set the hosts a challenging total to chase on Day 5.

How wrong we can all be. I have defended Joe Root through thick and thin over an extended period but even I have now lost faith in him. His defensive field placings gave the Windies an advantage on which they capitalised. DaSilva was a star for the home side and his hundred was applauded by both sets of fans with much enthusiasm and set the Windies on their way.

When England came to bat no one showed the application or appetite for a competitive battle bar Alex Lees. It was a procession of surrender and, quite frankly, an embarrassment. It is an extraordinary fact that thus far a total of 604 runs have been scored in the match but only 242 of them have been scored by the batters of both sides occupying the first seven berths. The tailenders have dominated the scoring. The match will be finished well before lunch tomorrow........

At breakfast this morning I was served by Petronita and Princess. Quite a lot of the waitresses have interesting and unusual names. Today's bus driver was called Lollipop! I couldn't help recalling that old 1960s pop record, 'My boy Lollipop' by Millie. A one hit wonder. Happy memories of the days of the old black vinyl.

On the bus on the way to the cricket I made a note of some of the names of the rum shacks and bars as we drove by — D' Joint, D' Edge, Tropicana Jetty, Blue Bubbles and Sleepy Diapers (what!), their trading names crudely painted, often in the national colours of red, yellow and green, above the entrance. A shoemaker (Keron) operates from a wooden shed not much bigger than a telephone box. Down at the port is a thriving large fish market and next door an abbatoir. Some goats are lined up outside ignorant of their imminent fate. Observing the local culture is a key part of the touringexperience for me. On this particular day the local culture had a lot more to offer than the cricketers representing the homeland. It was a very sad day for English cricket.

Friday, 25 March (Day 2, Grenada)
Grenada is mountainous, the streets are narrow and they randomly spiral up and across the terrain. In the town centre it's a scene of bright colours, bustle and hectic activity around the jumbo-size cruise liner tied up in the port. Every other outlet seems to be a bar! It's an interesting coach ride to the ground. Hold tight!

On the way to the stadium this morning I spotted a car with a registration plate P 6996. Those of us who like cricket stats will recognise that as Don Bradman's aggregate of Test matches runs and, of course, it's also a numeric palindrome. Given I'm in the Caribbean I thought I should try and find a West Indian with a palindrome Test aggregate. How about Sherwin Campbell with 2882 or Roy Fredericks with 4334. Do you remember the latter? He was from Guyana and who played for Glamorgan in the early 1970s. He always wore his cap at a jaunty angle. I once saw him hit a six in the first over of Glamorgan's innings in a John Player match. His opening partner was Majid Khan. What a twosome. The match against Surrey was played at BAC Byfleet a ground, sadly, now buried under the M25.

Onto the cricket. The Test match purist might suggest the pitch here does not provide a fair contest between bat and ball and there is a case to answer. There is variable bounce and the pitch is two-paced so the bowlers are definitely advantaged, but it has led to an intriguing contest. Saqib and Stokes were England's best bowlers. Overton was disappointing and Woakes, although he took three wickets, delivered well wide of the 'corridor of uncertainty'.

At the close of play the Windies are parity plus 28 with two wickets in hand. Of the three sessions played today I gave one to each team and the morning campaign was shared. After two days England have won three of the six sessions, conceded two and levelled won but despite that rating overall the Windies have the advantage as we eagerly anticipate Day 3. A special mention for Josh DaSilva who is 54 not out and held the hosts innings together. It is an extraordinary fact that no one in the top six on either side has scored more than 35 whereas both sets of tailenders have contributed significantly. Bring it on!

Thursday, 24 March (Day 1, Grenada Test)
Great to be back on the lovely Spice Island. Last here in 2009. Just a bit of a sweep-up. In case you didn't get my cricketing forename/surname anagrammatic poser — and my bulging email inbox indicates many of you did — it was Brian Brain formerly of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

And just another little snippet about my meet-up with Jonathan and Abigail Trott in Antigua. Until Ben Stokes made his England debut in 2015, Trott was the last cricketer to play for England who had a surname which started and ended with the same letter. Coincidentally, and fascinatingly, (at least to me!) Albert Trott was the very first in 1899. Before you tell me, I know old Albert was also the first bloke to biff a ball over the pavilion at Lord's (but at the time the pavilion was not as high as the current one).

Enough of this nonsense. This is the first Test match to be played at St George's since 2015. In 2002 it became to 84th different ground to be used for Test cricket. It is a splendid amphitheatre surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and a huge horseshoe-shaped escarpment, densely wooded and littered with candy-coloured chattel houses clinging to the hillside like birds precariously perch on thin, fragile branches. It is a spectacular sight.

Today the cricket matched the scenery. Who could have imagined that when England slumped to 114-9 they would eventually make an all out score of 204. Saqib and Leach played enterprisingly to add 90 for the last wicket although it is true to say batting became easier as the day went by. In the first two sessions the ball moved off the seam and the bounce was somewhat variable, but probably no more so than English batters would expect at, say Derby or Chesterfield, in early May. It was the first time since 1885 that the number 10 and 11 batters had outscored all their colleagues. That match (against Australia in Sydney) resulted in a six-run defeat for England. An omen perhaps?

The West Indians will be disappointed that they let the tourists off the hook, but in reality they would, surely, have settled for the eventual outcome at the start of play? The West Indians have their noses in front but tomorrow promises to be an exciting day of cricket.


Wednesday, 16 March (Day 1, Barbados)
Now 500 miles south of Antigua. After a couple of days of R&R+R (rum) all ready to go again. As a prelude to the Test match Gullivers arranged a drinks reception last evening with Aggers, Joel Garner and Tino Best at the Harbour Lights beach bar. Now 69 the Big Bird still looks as if he could bowl some decent throat balls.

And by the way, needless to say, I got some responses about other cricketers' called Horace. I'm kicking myself for not recalling Horace Brearley, who is the father of former England captain Mike Brearley, and played for Yorkshire before WW2 and Middlesex after it. However, I confess ignorance about Horace Fisher who played for Yorkshire between 1928 and 1936. I am grateful to my informants, a member of the Heritage Team at Yorkshire CCC and to my Cheshire friend who has won both Mastermind and Brain of Britain and knows a lot about a lot of things! The latter informed me Fisher was the very first player to achieve a hat-trick of LBWs in a first-class match. Apparently when the third appeal was made umpire Alex Skelding said, "As God's my witness, that's out too!" One of his victims was 'Mandy' Mitchell-Innes and that set me thinking about other cricketers' that had a female nickname but I only got as far as 'Patsy' Hendren. No doubt I will receive more?

Despite the Covid and identity checks we got into the ground without much ado. Now, at the expense of offending some of my old mates on the Red Rose side (the rain side) of the Pennines I must pose a very legitimate question. Why is it here at the Kensington Oval the mock art deco pavilion carries Sir Garry Sobers name and the stands are all named after famous cricketers — for example the Worrell, Weekes and Walcott stand and the Greenidge and Haynes stand, but at Old Trafford the stands are labelled A, B, C & D. Not a great deal of imagination used there if I might say. Come on Lancashire, sort it!

So England had first use of an apparently flat and docile surface and struggled to make much headway early on but once Dan Lawrence got to the crease he and Rooty played very enterprisingly. The Essex man looked to be in top form from the outset and another Root hundred looked inevitable. It was rough justice when Lawrence was dismissed in the last over of the day just nine shy of a maiden test century. However, England, will go into Day 2 full of confidence and looking to double their current total of 244. It was certainly carnival time on the terraces as a large crowd scorched in the hot sun, drank heavily and sang until they were hoarse. Can Rooty get a daddy hundred tomorrow or even beat his previous highest Test score in 254?

Thursday, 17 March 2022 (Day 2, Barbados)
It is interesting to compare Antigua, essentially rural, and with a population of only eighty-odd thousand to big, brash Barbados. The conurbation of Bridgetown is not dissimilar to a typical UK city. Some think Barbados is expensive and over-rated. I will leave others to judge and I restrict my comments merely to say the beaches in Antigua are, undoubtedly, far superior (but the roads considerably bumpier!)

I had a couple of emails overnight suggesting Fanie (pronounced Fanny) de Villiers might be added to my list of cricketers with female nicknames but I disallowed it given the spelling variation! Perhaps of more interest my mate, the Cheshire brainbox, came up with a team made-up entirely of girls names — Brian ROSE, WG GRACE, Peter MAY, Brian LARA, Ed JOYCE, Trevor PENNEY, Dennis LINDSAY (w/k), Andre NEL, Dom BESS, Jonathan CLARE, Horace HAZELL. Howzat! By the way I promise not to mention Horace again after today but I did go to school with a lad called Len, and some of us called him Horace for reasons I cannot recall, and others nicknamed him 'Yash' after the Russian World Cup goalkeeper, Lev Yashin. Again, I'm vague about the reason as Len was a big bloke and played at centre half! He used to take me to school on the back of his 350cc Norton Navigator motorbike and took a lot of pleasure scattering the first formers as we roared across the playground! It couldn't happen now could it?

If yesterday afternoon was carnival at Kensington Oval today it was carnage. England were very dominant. Rooty, who made 153, was assured and industrious while Stokes was at his belligerent best. Some of his shots were brutal. He crashed 120 from 128 balls including six sixes. (I can't bring myself to refer to them as 'maximums'). After they were both out the proceedings were a little more sedate but England eventually declared on 507-9. It will be hard work for the bowlers trying to dismiss the West Indians twice on this pitch but Matt Fisher, on debut made the first inroad in his initial over at this level. A dream start for the Yorkshireman who played his club cricket at Sheriff Hutton Bridge. I hardly need to say the Barmies were in good voice. Thankfully we were spared the Mexican wave.

Friday, 18 March 2022 (Day 3, Barbados)
Outside the hotel is a sign pointing to Hunte's Garden. It brought to mind a West Indian cricketer from the 1950/60s. Some of you will recall Conrad Hunte as a classy opening bat, but he did have an unusual second forename which was Cleophas. One of Penny's friends had a cat of the same name and I once asked her if she had named it after the Bajan cricketer. She was a bit non-plussed but she later confessed she had pinched the name from a kids Sunday School bible!

Look, the surface at the Kensington Oval is very flat and not currently ideal for Test cricket but the West Indians deserve a lot of credit for batting the whole day and only losing three wickets. It was quite a feat of concentration and endurance. Brathwaite, the captain, was tremendous and ably supported by Jermaine Blackwood until he, ill-advisedly, padded up and offered no shot to Dan Lawrence. Between them they received shared 552 deliveries.

Despite the docile surface questions still have to be asked about England's powder-puff attack. Poor old Woakes seems to have lost all confidence and Leach definitely does not have enough variations. Fisher and Mahmood did well enough on debut without looking like match-winners. Stokes looked the most likely to take a wicket but why was Lawrence not tried earlier and why did Root not bowl at all? More imagination is required tomorrow from the captain if England are to win this match. The West Indians are still 219 runs in arrear so Brathwaite and Holder still have a significant job to do if England are to be denied a day five victory.

Prior to the start of today's play I photographed two lovely statues at the entrance to the ground of Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Wesley Hall. We all know of Sir Garry's cricketing exploits, (he once told me when I acquired his autograph he felt guilty about having such an inappropriate surname!). but you may be unaware that Sir Wes, one of the most hostile quick bowlers of his time, was later a Barbados Senate member, served in the House of Assembly and, indeed, was a Cabinet Minister (1986-94). In 1998 he was ordained. His second forename is Winfield and it reminded me of the old Woolworth's branding tag. By the way Woolworth's still survives in Bridgetown. And finally, the lawyer who plays for Cheshire Over 70s has appealed against my disallowance of 'Fanie' de Villiers as a legitimate entry on the 'girls nickname list' but the former judge is hereby informed his representation is firmly rejected! Get a life Browny!!

Saturday, 19 March (Day 4, Barbados)
There is a signpost on the waterfront at the hotel which declares that New York is 2254 miles away and Toronto is 2410. It doesn't give the distance to Paradise but zero sounds like a suitable answer. Loving it in the Caribbean!

When I get back to the UK I had not intended to travel abroad for a month or two but it now seems I will be in Lausanne as Browny has now referred my disallowance of 'Fanie' to the Court of Arbitration for Sport! His judgement is clearly as dodgy as his fielding! Is he trying to have more of his decisions overturned than Lord Denning ever did?

While still on the girl's name thing I had three overnight nominations for POLLY Umrigar the Indian batter of yesteryear. Excellent shout! DOLLY, Basil d'Oliveira's nickname (referring to his surname) was also suggested but it doesn't quite meet the strict qualifying criteria. Sorry!

Let's be truthful, even those of us that are passionate about Test cricket have found the last couple of day's quite an ordeal. Pitches need to give the batters the opportunity to score runs and, equally, offer the bowlers some assistance. This track doesn't fulfil either requirement and it has led to some rather tedious play. That is not a word I use lightly. Turgid has been suggested by others less tolerant than me. That apart it has to be acknowledged that Kraigg Brathwaite batted with great skill and concentration for 160 runs off of 489 balls. He had been on the field of play from the outset of the match until 2.50pm on day 4.

When the West Indians were eventually all out England had a lead of 96 which they extended to 136 by the close with all wickets standing. The declaration will need to be finely judged by Root, (who was unimaginative with his bowling changes again today), sometime around lunch tomorrow. Expect some biffing in the morning particularly from Crawley, Lawrence, Bairstow and Stokes. Off to Enid's today. It's the name of a restaurant before you ask!

Sunday, 20 March (Day 5, Barbados)
Spring has sprung! Vernal equinox today (and only another 280 days until Christmas!) For those of you that are familiar with Barbados we are staying in Holetown so each morning on our way to the ground in Bridgetown we take the coastal road through Paynes Bay which is the most exclusive area on the island. Next door to the fabulous Sandy Lane hotel is No. 1 Sandy Lane which is a huge and very impressive building which looks if it should be a Presidential palace or an Embassy. I'm told Rhianna lives here. I confess I wouldn't recognise her if I bumped into her. Would you?

The curtain finally came down on the Test match around 5.30pm. It could have been a rather flat last day but in the event it did provide some entertaining cricket. The weather played its part in the morning session with some short but untimely rain squalls as England looked to push-on with haste and judge the declaration. Lawrence and Bairstow pressed the accelerator but the rain prevented an innings closure before lunch. The eventual target set was 281 off a likely 65 overs. A draw looked the almost certain outcome, and so it proved but England made a spirited effort to eke out an unlikely victory.

Saqib bowled impressively and Leach helped himself to three wickets and at 93-5 England were in with an outside chance of winning. The Barmies sensed an opportunity for victory and burst into song enthusiastically if not entirely tunefully. Thereafter Brathwaite and Da Silva were determined to be party-poopers and added 42 runs before the players all shook hands, the respective captains recognising the pitch had defeated both teams. There was little doubt about the Man of the Match award.

The West Indies skipper, Kraigg Braithwaite, who has played first-class cricket for Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire contributed a remarkable 216 runs for only once out, faced an incredible total of 673 balls, (554 dot balls) and was at the crease for 955 minutes in total. For good measure he also took one wicket and pouched two catches. Some performance.

I successfully negotiated my Antigen test today so will be on the afternoon flight to Grenada tomorrow. Finally, here is a poser from my old mate in Stourbridge. Stir the grey matter. Which first-class cricketer, now retired, has a surname which is an anagram of his forename? I got it in seconds, I expect you will too?!



Tuesday, 8 March (Day 1 of Test match)
Hello England, Antigua calling! Lapping up the sunshine, the facilities at this luxurious hotel, and the sights on this lovely island for which the Tourism Board advertising blurb proudly informs its visitors there is a different beach for every single day of the year.

Oh and I nearly forgot — the cricket! Yesterday was a day of sightseeing including a visit to the iconic old Recreation ground that until 2009 was the gladiatorial arena for Test matches right in the heart of bustling St John's and adjacent to the much-loved old cathedral. Now the stadium it is a creaking wreck unceremoniously dumped in favour of a new ground plonked in the middle of nowhere and financed by the Chinese. Standing on the neglected outfield at the Rec, and closing my eyes, I was able to visualise the cross-dressing legendary figure that was 'Gravy' performing his outrageous dancing routines on the first level of the grandstand to the disco music provided by Chickie. It was pure theatre which undoubtedly complemented the Antigua Test match experience. Now much lamented by those of us that care about cricketing traditions.

And so to Test match number 2454 played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium located out of town at North Sound. The alarm is set for 6.30 but I awake at 5.27 in eager anticipation. I confess the ground was a real treat. It is certainly remote but beautifully appointed. Before the start there was plenty of opportunity to walk around the perimeter of the ground and appreciate the industry of the local street traders setting up their numerous improvised food stations. Shellfish fritters and fried dumplings looked like a nice lunchtime option washed down with a tin (or two) of Banks.

Having won the toss and decided to take first use of the strip, Rooty would have been very disappointed to see England collapse, yet again. At 48-4 the tourists looked to be in a whole load of trouble but cometh the hour and cometh the man, and up stepped Johnny Bairstow to score a wonderful undefeated hundred ably assisted by Ben Foakes. And two things you might not know — Ben's father, Peter, is a retired Premier League football referee and Bairstow's brother, Andrew, played three first-class matches for Derbyshire in 1995. Johnny is a former pupil of St Peter's School in York and is the third Old Peterite to represent England. Frank Mitchell and Norman Yardley were the other two.

Despite the hosts making such a good start, England won the afternoon and evening sessions but at 268-6 the game appears to be evenly balanced. Can England's redhead, (or am I still allowed to say 'ginger'?), push on tomorrow? I readily recall Australian wicketkeeper, Wally Grout once saying that every time Ken Barrington came out to bat it was as if he dragged a Union Jack flag behind him so proud was he to represent his country. He same surely applies to JB? He is extremely popular with the Barmies and their early version of Sinatra's 'I love you Baby' was later adapted to 'I love you Bairstow'! As an aside, most of you will know I enjoy a bit of flag spotting and today the Battle of the Roses flag competition was five to the Yorkies (Leeds, Sheffield, Barnsley, Hull and Ossett) and only two to the Red Rose lot (Preston and Bury). Not surprisingly I didn't spot an England supporter wearing an Everton shirt. Poor old Frank Lampard, what did he do wrong to deserve that job? And finally....and perhaps it's a sign of the times, but at the head of the scoreboard in a very large font size was the designation 'England Men'. That suffix seemed likely an unnecessary clarification to me but I'm probably very old fashioned? Hey ho (and just go with the flow!)

Wednesday, 9 March (Day 2)
Bad start to the day. I incurred the wrath of Dolores the catering lady who is in charge of the breakfast toasting station. I helped myself to a spoonful of pineapple marmalade and in no uncertain terms I was given a verbal headbutt. I was pointed to a sign which informed guests that Antiguan Ministry of Health protocols only allowed food to be served by the staff. I apologised profusely but old Dolores was rather unforgiving! I felt like I'd been given a yellow card in the first minute of the match!

By the way, Covid is still taken very seriously here. Masks are mandatory in the restaurant and to gain entry you have to gel your forearm and offer it up to a temperature monitoring machine. I sincerely hope Dolores is not promoted from toast host to temperature lady. I can imagine if my reading was a mere 0.1 either side of the norm she might send me to the gallows?

We are at the ground well before the start so the binoculars came out and I did a bit more flag spotting. Inevitably most are footie ones but both rugby codes were represented and intriguingly I spotted one for the Castle 'A' Darts team and another for Kingswood & Hanham Bowls Club. No doubt someone will let me know the whereabouts of those villages but the flag I liked best was of a large bird on a white background with thick green stripes above and below. The flag belonged to Borstal CC, established 1882. Regrettably I couldn't identify the species of bird but wondered if it might be a jailbird! Another flag promoted Polesworth CC. Again, I confess an ignorance as to its whereabouts but as it displayed AVFC in one quarter I assume it is in Brummieland? I am sure my two Black Country mates will be advising me which side of the qualifying coal seam it sits.

And eventually to the cricket. It was altogether a more sedate affair today. England moved on to an all-out total of 311 thanks in the main to JB re-establishing himself and with a minor contribution from Chris Woakes. Thereafter the West Indies played enterprisingly, and soon had 83 on the board before the first wicket fell. At 101 they looked to be in a good place but Brathwaite, Brooks and Blackwood fell in quick succession and at 127-4 it looked a different proposition. Rain squalls and some sound batting from the admirable Jason Holder, ably assisted by Nkruma Bonner, levelled things up as the hosts closed with 202-4 on the board. One was left to wonder when England had last fielded a weaker all-round team. Tomorrow could be match-shaping day?

Thursday, 10 March (Day 3)
Gave the toast station a miss this morning but I found myself on a breakfast table next to Lord Gower. I can exclusively reveal he started the day with two poached eggs on toast. Did you know Antigua has four cricketing knights? The cricket stadium is named after Sir Viv and both Sir Curtly Ambrose and Sir Andy Roberts have grandstands carrying their respective names but poor old Sir Richie Richardson has nothing but, coincidentally, is the match referee for this game.

A bronze statue of Sir Viv is located near the main entrance and the plaque informs he was honoured in 2000 when he became a Knight Commander of the Nation (KCN) but this was upgraded in 2006 to a Knight Commander of the Most Exulted Order of National Hero (KNH). Who could have imagined this son of the Antiguan soil and his old mate Beefy, as young tearaways at Somerset. would achieve such high office. Lord Botham of Ravensworth has, of course, recently been appointed as Britain's Trade Envoy to Australia. When that news was announced it reminded me of Barry Humphries fictional character, as Australia's Cultural Attache', Sir Les Patterson. Maybe there are some similarities?!

Most England supporters agreed that Jason Holder held the key to the eventual outcome of the Test match. As a former West Indies captain and with a Test match aggregate of over 2500 runs, a top score of 202 and 140 victims to his name he is a formidable opponent. In this match he had already made a significant contribution with the ball (21-11-24-2) and was undefeated with 43 runs against his name. In the event he was out after only 12 runs had been added to the overnight score but up stepped the Jamaican Nkruma Bonner to play the innings of his life. By the time he was dismissed just before the close he had scored 123 from 355 balls.

De Silva, Roach and Permaul manfully supported him and all received over a hundred deliveries each. By the close the hosts lead by 62 runs with the last pair at the crease. Sessions 2 and 3 were a tough and turgid watch even for those of us that love the longer form of the game. In a sense it was Chess match cricket as both sides played for advantage, and it is England that are now to looking avoid getting into a checkmate. The pitch looks to be a very bland one but, in truth, England looked a very ordinary side that played without much enterprise or imagination and, frankly, some odd field placings.

According to my card of the nine sessions over three days I have given four to the Windies and only two to England with three shared. The tourists are looking down the barrel but all is not lost (yet). Finally, I am grateful to a Walking Club friend for pointing out that Polesworth is near Tamworth and to another who is a Nottingham-based Rokerite and is a retired Prison Service educationalist for supplying a bit more helpful information about Borstal. I am now aware it is in Kent and was the site of the very first Young Offenders Institution and the place name became generic. We live and learn.

Friday, 11 March (Day 4)
Breakfast seems to get evermore eventful! Today I am on a table next to Jonathan Trott and his young family but, as much as I wished, I couldn't bring myself to interrupt their brekkie. I happened to know his wife is called Abigail and she is the granddaughter of the late Tom Dollery (b 1914, d 1987) who was the first profession captain of Warwickshire CCC and played for England on four occasions. Tom was born in Reading and featured in my book about Reading-born cricketers, and I would have liked to have asked her whether she any recall of her granddad. I kicked myself all day for my reticence and for not approaching her!

One of the joys of touring with England is meeting up with other cricket nerds and it is very reassuring to know there are many more like me! In fact, I would say I am a novice judging by the very high standard of answers lodged in the daily quizzes set by the tour manager. Here is one for you...which current Test player has a surname which is a palindrome? Clue = seven letters.

On to the cricket. England won all three sessions today and played with a real sense of purpose. At the close they now lead by 153 runs with nine wickets in hand. Heavy rain prevented the last 23 overs from being bowled and that weather intervention is likely to preclude a positive result tomorrow. Had a full day's play been possible England were likely to have established an overnight lead exceeding 200 and a pre-lunch top-up might have persuaded Rooty to declared setting the hosts something likely 325 off of 65 overs. That sort of equation now looks unlikely so England will probably settle for a draw and be content that Crawley scored a lovely hundred.

Poor old Alex Lees failed again. And by mentioning Crawley and Lees it has just occurred to me they must be the only England opening pair to have Zak as a forename! The Tonbridge educated Crawley is merely Zak but Lees, the lad from Halifax, is Alex Zak. Back to the palindrome. I'd be surprised if you didn't all get the South African opener Aiden MARKRAM. Easy! Good night!!

Saturday, 12 March (Day 5)
Woke up in the night in a cold sweat. I think I must have been thinking about Tom Dollery again. The truth is that although he was known to everyone as 'Tom' his forenames were Horace Edgar and it set me thinking about other first-class cricketers with that name. Before returning to my slumber I came up with Horace Hazell who played for Somerset either side of WW2. There maybe others? Can you help?

When I went down to breakfast I immediately spotted the Trott family again and on this occasion I bucked up the courage to approach Abigail, at the egg station (!), and asked her about her famous granddad. I am so glad I did as she was thrilled to see the photographs I had on my phone of Tom at Reading School in 1931. She dragged me over to their table and introduced me to her brother, another Tom, and Jonathan. Emails have since been exchanged forwarding various photos.

Back to more mundane things. I've been here a week now but it has just occurred to me the door on the shower cubicle opens the wrong way. It is impossible to turn the shower on without actually getting in to the cubicle!

I don't think many England supporters expected the day to unfold as it did. Crawley went very early on but Dan Lawrence played a cameo innings alongside Root, with smaller contributions from Stokes, Bairstow and Woakes that allowed England to push on and declare their innings closed four overs prior to lunch. Everyone seemed to agree it was an enterprising declaration as England set the hosts a target of 276 from 71 overs.

The Windies made no attempt to chase at four runs an over, and at 4 for 67 they looked to be in a predicament, but the admirable Jason Holder and Bonner saw them through until the eventual close without any further mishaps. On my card I gave England all the day 4 & 5 sessions so over the five days I had them 8-4 ahead with three sessions shared. They now go to Barbados with a spring in their step. Bairstow, Root, Crawley and Lawrence made notably contributions. Question marks sit over Leach, Overton and Lees. England did their best to forge a win but the bland pitch was a real stumbling block. Nil, nil and two to play.

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