Simon Hughes: West Indies did not swing the ball
On a slow pitch, they needed to swing it to trouble England
It was interesting to watch how the West Indies bowled in these English conditions. A bit like the batsmen, they persevered and didn’t give up the ghost, but they were hampered by an inability to swing the ball.
The West Indies seamers all like to hit the pitch hard and bowl back of a length. Like the Caribbean bowlers of the past they tend not to move the ball much in the air.
But English conditions demand swing and, on day one, Broad and Anderson picked up most of their wickets with movement in the air. In fact, they kept up the pressure by swinging it all day long.
Kemar Roach likes to nag away back of a length. He has some pace and he did quite well in alien conditions, bowling some good spells around the wicket to the lefthanders. But there was little movement to trouble the batsmen and when he picked up the wicket of Cook it was down to the batsman’s error.
Shannon Gabriel is raw but looked a good prospect. He has pace and bowled reasonably accurately. But he would gain more consistency if he worked on developing a more rhythmical run up and action.
Fidel Edwards has improved under the guidance of West Indies’ coach Otis Gibson. But he still blows hot and cold and this was not one of his better days.
But the biggest problem they faced was the inability to swing the ball on a dry pitch offering little in the way of lateral movement.
Clearly, a lack of swing didn’t hinder Michael Holding much, but then he was lightning fast. None of the current crop has such pace, or the bounce of a Garner or an Ambrose.
The West Indies also erred in not picking the spinner Shane Shillingford. He’s maturing as a bowler at the age of 29 and took 10 wickets in his last Test match, against Australia, in Dominica.
Not too many bowlers get dropped after a 10-for and he might have got the ball to to and bounce on this surface and given them more variety.
Having said that, I don’t think it would have made much difference. Unless you produce something out of the ordinary with the ball, it’s going to be hard to pick up many wickets against England at Lord’s. If Cook doesn’t make runs, it will be Strauss and if he doesn’t make runs, it will be Pietersen, or Bell. The chances of them all failing on this slow pitch are very slim.