Performance of the Day: Ravi Rampaul
Rampaul bowled superbly on a flat track against England's powerful batsmen
Ravi Rampaul first played for the West Indies on 22 November 2003, the day that Jonny Wilkinson dropped the goal that won England the Rugby World Cup - a day so long ago that Chris Gayle bowled his full ODI allocation of ten overs. It is remarkable, therefore, to learn that Rampaul is still only 27 and in his prime years as a fast-medium bowler.
Like many talented cricketers, Rampaul has suffered from the last decade's turmoil in West Indian cricket. He played through the Stanford years and under a bewildering array of captains. He also suffered from the young quick's typical injury – shin splints – but he didn't help himself, carrying rather more ballast around the middle than one expects in a 21st century cricketer. Through that, he has always been able to bowl, moving the ball both ways at the kind of pace that troubles all but the very best. For a Trinidadian whose heritage is in the subcontinent, he is a very English type of bowler.
In this callow West Indian attack, he had a huge job to do. Kemar Roach was hostile, but wasted wickets by bowling no balls; Darren Sammy (possibly tired after his superb effort with the bat) looked like a third change fill-in bowler, rather than the first change medium pacer he purports to be; and Shane Shillingford's inexperience outside the Caribbean produced too many scoring opportunities. Rampaul, in just his 15th Test, had to do Glenn McGrath's old job of being a strike bowler and a stock bowler at the same time, all against a top five playing at home in which only Jonathan Trott, with 30 caps, had fewer than 75 Test appearances.
Rampaul was undaunted, bowling an 11-over opening spell (broken by lunch), taking the wicket of Alastair Cook and conceding just 28 runs. After tea, he was back, hitting Jonathan Trott in front before he had his feet moving again, winning the lbw and the review. Again, he was frugal with runs, until a bit of fatigue crept in and a couple of wides and no balls were given away. 18-4-42-2 is a magnificent return in the context of England's close of play score of 259-2 off 68 overs.
That Ravi Rampaul bowled well on a flat track on a batsman's day is commendable: that he did so in a popgun attack with their backs to the wall on a strength-sapping day is enough to attract the Performance of the Day. And he'll have to do it all again on the third day, if his side are to keep England's total the right side of 600.