Battling Blackwood Guides Windies To 1st Test Success

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

West Indies won by four wickets
England 204 (Holder 6-42) & 313 (Gabriel 5-75)
West Indies 318 (Brathwaite 65) & 200-6 (Blackwood 95)

Jermaine Blackwood, who was dropped on five and 20 respectively, rattled off an impressive match-winning innings of 95 to help guide the West Indies to a four-wicket 1st Test success over England on Sunday (12 July).

The Jamaican all-rounder, earning his first Test start in almost three years, hit a dozen boundaries at the Ageas Rose Bowl in Southampton. But he narrowly missed out on scoring only his second Test century, five years after bagging his first 100 against England. Hampshire’s pitch showed signs of an uneven bounce, but the tourists were always in command with England’s fielding failures costing them dearly, and the Windies sealed only their second Test win in England in 20 years in the final session.

  

Both England and the Windies showed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement on the opening day of the first of three Test matches played behind closed doors.


This contest, the first competitive cricket match since since the coronavirus pandemic brought sports to a sudden halt in March, started with a whimper because of rain delays. Stand-in England skipper Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bat, but his side stuttered to 35-1 off 17.4 overs and lost Dom Sibley – clean bowled by Trinidad & Tobago’s Shannon Gabriel.

With the second day on the south coast overcast, which suited the bowlers, Windies captain Jason Holder (Barbados) took a career best 6-42 to claim his sixth five-wicket haul in 10 Tests. One of his victims was Stokes, who was dropped twice before edging behind for a team-high 43. Gabriel joined in the wicket fest by grabbing the first three England wickets and picked up the last wicket to finish with figures 4-62 as England were dismissed for 204.

The tourists responded with a slow yet steady 57-1 in reply before bad light stopped play after 19.3 overs.

Half-centuries from the Barbados duo of Kragg Brathwaite (65) and Shane Dowrich (61) helped steer the Windies to 318 all out with less than an hour before stumps on day three. England defensively replied to see out 10 overs of relentless attacking bowling, with openers Rory Burns (10no) and Sibley (5no) doing well to fend off the danger from zippy deliveries.

But it was Gabriel who tore through England as the hosts suffered a late collapse on day four, as they moved from 249-3 to finish on 284-8 for a slender 170-run lead. Burns (42) and Sibley (50) calmly built up the runs with Zak Crawley (76) and Stokes (46) putting on a 98-run fourth wicket stand.

It was paceman Gabriel who came to the Windies rescue by polishing off the final two wickets to send England all out for 313, setting the Windies a low target of 200 to secure victory on the final day.

A nervous start saw them enter the lunchtime interval struggling at the crease at 35-3, with Braithwaite and the Barbados pair of Shamarh Brooks and Shai Hope back in the pavilion along with Jamaican John Campbell retired hurt after being struck on the toe by Barbados-born fast bowler Jofra Archer. A 73-run partnership from Roston Chase (Barbados) and Blackwood took the total to 100-4, with Dowrich adding a solid knock of 20 before being given out caught at slips off his elbow. At 168-5 it was the mature innings of Blackwood who kept the Windies edging ever closer to victory, but he impatiently drove his shot off the bowling of Stokes to James Anderson at mid-off to miss out on scoring a century.

Campbell limped back to the middle to join Holder at the crease with only 11 more runs required to clinch success, and the opener hit the winning runs off Stokes to seal a hard-fought triumph for the Windies.

The tourists take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series and now need only avoid defeat in one of the remaining two Tests at Lancashire’s Old Trafford to retain the Wisden Trophy they won 2-1 in the Caribbean 18 months ago.

WISDEN TROPHY TEST SCHEDULE
8-12 July
1st Test – West Indies win by four wickets

Ageas Bowl, Southampton

16-20 July
2nd Test – 
Old Trafford, Manchester

24-28 July
3rd Test – 
Old Trafford, Manchester

  

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