Rain holds up England as Windies ponder Wisden Trophy escape plan

ENGLAND’s attempts to push for victory in the decisive third Test against West Indies were held up by the Manchester weather, with no play possible on the fourth day. England must win the series to regain the Wisden Trophy – before it is replaced by the new Richards-Botham version – but the sight of a sodden Old Trafford left West Indies the cheerier of the two teams.

The task for the tourists will now be to try and bat through the final day, against an in-form Stuart Broad – still one away from the 500-wicket mark – and a refreshed England attack.

Jermaine Blackwood’s 95 in the first Test remains the highest individual score for West Indies in the series – but Phil Simmons, the head coach, said after play on the third day that he would be challenging his batsmen to “set themselves targets of getting a big hundred on this wicket”, despite the difficulties of facing Broad and James Anderson, closing in on 600 wickets himself, in helpful conditions.

But while a draw will do for West Indies, England need to win – which makes forecasts for more rain on Tuesday particularly worrying for the hosts and not the slightest bit dreary for the tourists.

Watching the rain fall at Emirates Old Trafford on Monday, the lyrics and droning chorus line of the Beatles’ “Rain” was particularly apt.

Weather aside, West Indies had some further good news with confirmation that wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich has been deemed fit to bat after suffering a cut lip when he was hit in the mouth by a Shannon Gabriel delivery which deflected off his gloves on the third day. They also have plenty of players with points to prove, not least the two men at the crease, Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope.

The trouble for them is they are facing a four-man pace attack with a mix of greatness, on the cusp of greatness, jaw-droppingly talented and “Mr Dependable”. You know who they are.

So, in the interests of a chance to witness something special from someone let’s hope that on Tuesday, in the words of that other foursome – the fab kind – it’s not so much “Rain, I don’t mind” and more “Shine, the weather’s fine.”

(Scores: West Indies 197 (Holder 46, Broad 6-31) and 10 for 2 (Broad 2-8) need a further 389 to beat England 369 and 226 for 2 declared (Burns 90, Root 68*, Sibley 56).(ESPN Cricinfo)


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