Cricket for Americans: 31 Jan. 2019: Teamwork

The shadows are long in Antigua, as West Indies look to bat out the final few overs without losing a wicket. The day started off in their favor, as they won the toss and elected to bowl on a tricky pitch, taking a quick four wickets before Bairstow’s smash and grab half century and a lovely and calm partnership between Foakes and Ali steadied the ship. But it wasn’t enough and just like in Barbados England were bowled out for well below a par score, but at least they got into the triple digits this time around.

England’s attack came in with both guns — Anderson and Broad, the latter with something to prove after being dropped for the first Test — blazing and looked to take at least one or two wickets off the Windies in the tricky light, but the pitch flattened out and despite all their best efforts, Brathwaite and Campbell are holding firm. If they can see out the day, it will surely put them on top heading into the second day of the Test.

And, so, an intriguing day of Test cricket, but not one that will last long in memory. Just a good day out in the Caribbean sun, the sounds of the game keeping time, counting out the rhythm of an Antiguan January day.

The final over the of the day was just bowled, and Brathwaite and Campbell did indeed survive the session, putting the Windies clearly on top. And so that completes the story of the day: partnerships. If not for the late wicket stand of Foakes and Ali, England are in far deeper trouble. And if Campbell and Brathwaite don’t get through the new ball and see out the day, then the wickets could have fallen like dominos, but instead they open the day tomorrow with fresh legs and fresh eyes and fresh plans.

Cricket is a team game, you can’t win without your teammates, but it’s also one defined by individual efforts. The match winning double century, or the five-for from nowhere. But lots of times, like today, it is a game of partnerships, duos, two teammates on the same wavelength, feeding off of each other, working together to bring the game back into contention, or to save an afternoon, or to set up the rest of the Match for their side. It’s rare, in that sense, in the realm of team sports, where two person partnerships can define a game. Foakes and Ali. Campbell and Brathwaite.

Until tomorrow.

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