Saturday Test report: All quiet on the Western front

In control: West Indies batsmen Shai Hope, left, and Jermaine Blackwood at the end of day two at Headingley.
In control: West Indies batsmen Shai Hope, left, and Jermaine Blackwood at the end of day two at Headingley.
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IF the barometer of how a Headingley Test match is going is the mood of the fans on the old Western Terrace, then it was clear that not everything was proceeding to plan for England on Saturday.

It all began in familiar fashion, with giant beach balls passed around until they bounced onto the grass between the boundary and the advertising hoardings, whereupon they were swiftly confiscated by green-jacketed security staff, who were loudly booed for their trouble.

“We want our balls back,” chanted the crowd, as stewards led away the offending inflatables.

Later, inflatables of a rather more dubious variety were tossed among the more well-oiled patrons, while beer snakes were built and then crudely unbuilt as plastic glasses were thrown high into the sunny afternoon.

It was typical Saturday-at-the-Headingley-Test stuff, with that experience more playful than it used to be, when the old Western Terrace – now the White Rose Stand – was a veritable law unto itself.

This year, the Saturday of the Leeds Test went so well for the West Indies that the boredom levels of the crowd steadily increased as the threat of the English bowling steadily decreased, prompting some spectators to find other things to keep themselves occupied and amused.

Eventually, the dominance of the batsmen became such that the crowd became fed-up of their own antics, with a strange kind of silence enveloping the final session.

When stumps were drawn, the West Indies score stood at 329-5 in reply to England’s 258, the sort of position that evoked the dominant era of Greenidge, Haynes, Richards et al.

West Indies’ cricket has plummeted sadly since then, but they do possess two young batsmen in the form of Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope who at least give hope for a brighter future.

After James Anderson reduced the tourists from their overnight 19-1 to 35-3, having Davendra Bishoo caught behind and Kyle Hope held low down at second slip by Joe Root, Brathwaite and Shai Hope added 246 for the fourth wicket from 413 balls through a combination of skill, patience and above all character.

Brathwaite, who struck 134, played like a proper opening batsman before Stuart Broad arrowed one through his gate with the second new ball.

Hope, who ended the day on 147, played with similar assurance, the pair achieving the considerable feat of eventually quieting a Headingley Saturday crowd.