Nasser and Ian Bishop are checking out the pitch, which is slow but up and down – precisely the conditions for which you definitely, totally, absolutely, do not, under any circumstances, ever, want the cutters and fourth-innings bronca of Stuart Broad.
Michael Holding says this is a bigger day for West Indies than England. He can’t remember the last time they beat a higher-ranked team at home, and is as concerned about the batting as you would be. There’s no one you look to as the one to get it done, but there are various you think might get useful 30s and 40s, a few of which will be enough.
Email! “I remember the game here a couple of years ago,” says Digvijay Yadav. “England set 246, India fell short by about 60. If England set somewhere around 200, this could be a proper humdinger.”
What a strange and fun series that was. Moeen took four-fer that day, including Kohli and Rahane, India’s top scorers. He’s not here now, but it must just be that England have found their spinner: Dom Bess has been extremely impressive so far, but can he deliver when he’s expected to?
The final morning is a good time to take stock of what we’ve seen these last few days and, whatever happens out in the middle, chances are most of us will remember this Test for the integrity, candour and strength of Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent. They have educated us, moved us and inspired us to change the world, encapsulating and personifying unifying, transformative power of sport. Let’s not let them down, folks.
To get us in the mood, here’s Gordon Greenidge performing one of the great final days, at Lord’s in 1984 – the first cricket I remember, now that you ask. West Indies might not have a batsman of his class these days, but they’ll not be chasing 344 either.
The likelihood is that West Indies will need to make in the fourth innings roundabout what England made in the first innings and, in the process, we will enjoy a thorough interrogation of Ben Stokes’ judgment. If he read the pitch correctly, then he was right to bat first, right to pick Mark Wood and right to pick Jofra Archer, so his team will win; alternatively, he ought to have made the most of the game’s best bowling conditions, ought not to have dropped Stuart Broad, and West Indies will beat England again.
“Nostalgia is delicate, but potent,” Donald Draper once surmised. “In Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”
Ostensibly, these profundities were deployed to describe a slide projector, but like all good screenwriting this was a speech dripping with subtext: what Don was really getting at is the special, unique joy of an England batting collapse. And even by the standard, yesterday’s was a jazzer: first, after four days chasing the game, they inched into a decent position thanks to much work and struggle, then they carelessly tossed five wickets for 30 runs like they were so many womb sounds. So now we wait, ready for yet another glorious, infantilising regression of a final day, the beauty of Test cricket, the beauty of sport and the beauty of life right there inside us; this should be absolutely immense.
Play: 11am BST