England trail by 205 runs with 5 first innings wickets in hand.
Either Tino Best really did almost score a century or we have some seriously weird dreams after a night on the gin.
At 289/9 three balls into day four, there were a fair few England fans fancying their chances of winning the game. Enter Tino Best. One world record score later and the West Indies were the only team with any chance of victory. Often when tailenders make runs they are through just swinging from the hip at everything and the attack coming off, but this was different. Every now and again his innings lapsed into that sort of striking but he batted sensibly to see Denesh Ramdin through to his hundred and then seemed to be reining himself in as he edged towards his own. Barring two successive edges through the inexplicably vacant third slip region early on he was completely untroubled by England’s much vaunted second string. Indeed, England seemed to lack any sort of plan once he had reached about 30 and were very flat for most of the morning. Only when Best was in sight of his century did he lose his composure and hack a wideish half-volley from Graeme Onions straight up in the air. His 95 was the highest score by a number 11 batsman in Test cricket by some margin and, to cap off his day, he then sent Andrew Strauss and Jonny Bairstow packing later in the afternoon.
Tino’s wild celebration as he reached his maiden Test 50 was a fantastic moment, as was Ramdin’s attempt to give Viv Richards a paper cut from 100 yards away, but in the end we’ve settled for something far more cynical. As Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell were in the midst of an excellent (and actually quite important) partnership, an over after the tea break and with floodlights bathing the ground in light, the umpires decided it was too dark and marched everybody off the field. Leaving aside the fact that building floodlights seems something of an exercise in futility if they are going to go off regardless, this was a staggering display of umpiring. Having lost two days of the game to rain they should be making every effort to stay on the field, particularly when the public are paying £43 just to get in the ground. To compound matters; they returned after half an hour and proceeded to watch England rack up 60 runs in 8 overs before trooping back off again. It was a farcical period in a game which was already suffering badly after the washouts on Thursday and Friday.
England are still 60 odd runs shy of the follow-on target, but realistically tomorrow is all about batting practice for their lower order. The pitch is still good, the West Indian attack is not particularly threatening and they still have Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann to come. It remains to be seen how much play is even possible as, once again, the forecast isn’t promising and it’s a shame a series which has featured more talking points than anyone really expected is going to end on such a damp squib.