In a gripping day, Marlon Samuels and Dinesh Ramdin ensure West Indies survive the day with two wickets in hand.
The Edgbaston groundstaff deserve a bucketload of credit for working long hours in preparing the pitch and the outfield. After two days of deluge, there was a real risk that play would start late, or that the playing surface would be substandard. However the only noticeable effects of the rain were a slow outfield and plenty of grass stains on fielders’ trousers. In terms of the players themselves, Marlon Samuels once again excelled with the bat and was instrumental in keeping West Indies ahead of expectation. At times he took the attack to Graeme Swann and also played some sublime shots through the off-side against the seamers.
The day was also characterised by the three-man bowl-off which at times threatened to be promoted from a subplot to the main story. All three seamers bowled well, but Steven Finn was arguably least consistent and he also had an odd tendency to frequently knock the stumps with his leg during his delivery stride. As for the best, Graham Onions bowled well throughout and in a manner similar to the first chapter of this international career, probably deserved more wickets than the three he collected.
Meanwhile, Tim Bresnan was not overshadowed by his colleagues. The best mini-spell of the day was the manner in which he dismissed Assad Fudadin; two shortish balls that Fudadin managed to block, followed by a marginally quicker delivery that gained extra height and which had the batsman jumping and trying to evade. The ball took the glove and looped to Ian Bell at slip. Bresnan also removed Samuels with a fine delivery that nipped in to trap the batsman LBW. On a day which began with many expecting the bowlers to thrive in damp conditions, this was one of the few balls that did move noticeably sideways.
Having won the toss, England should be disappointed not to have bowled the West Indies out; if they had held their catches they might have done so. Ian Bell dropped two sitters early on, leading to much speculation as to why he was in the slips in the first place. Then in the evening session, Strauss dropped Darren Sammy and despite holding on to an identical chance a few balls later, it was a frustrating day for England in that respect. Assuming the weather holds, it is up to Ramdin to keep West Indies batting for as long as possible; England should aim to take two quick wickets and then bat with intent to try and build pressure on their opponents.