Toothless Test Display Leaves Windies In Turmoil To Gift Series To England

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

England won 3rd Test by 269 runs
England 369 (Roach 4-72) & 226-2 declared
West Indies 197 (Holder 46) & 129 (Hope 31)

 
West Indies’ seven-week tour of England came crashing down with a thumping 269-run final Test defeat at the hands of hosts England at Old Trafford today (28 July).

England’s demolition job of the Windies was a lesson in finishing class, as their scintillating show with bat and bowl saw them hit cruise control and come from behind to win a three Test series for the first time since 2008.  The tourists looked clueless in the third and decisive Test match, their only success winning the toss. But surprisingly captain Jason Holder opted to let England bat, despite the tourists below par at the wicket in the 2nd Test when England drummed up the runs with aplomb.
 
Having edged the opening Test on an uneven wicket at Southampton to get the series off to a tremendous start, the Windies have since looked shambolic and now appear to be in a bit of a crisis.

During the 2nd Test Holder’s troops looked scrappy, unable to bat, bowl or field anywhere near the standard they had shown in the opening Test triumph last month. It was only poor weather that delayed the inevitable result of England levelling the series, and an intriguing finale was expected to begin last Friday.
 
Bajan all-rounder Holder elected to put England into bat, and his decision appeared to initially pay off when the hosts were reduced to 122-4 with his Barbados compatriot Kemar Roach grabbing two wickets. But an unbeaten stand of 136 from wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope turned the tables, with England concluding the opening day at 258-4 when bad light stopped play 15 minutes early.

  

Shannon Gabriel ensured that Pope failed to add to his overnight score of 91, and the Trinidad & Tobago paceman triggered an almighty collapse from 262-4 to 280-8. Yet England bounced back to finished with a respectable 369 all out.

Roach (4-72) reached a milestone 200 Test wickets by clean bowling Chris Woakes, and tail-ender Stuart Broad turned the screws to frustrate the Windies. His fearless 45-ball knock of 62 in a swashbuckling 76-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Dom Bess ended when he was caught by Jermaine Blackwood (Jamaica) off Roston Chase (Barbados).

The Windies’ glory days at the wicket looked long gone with Kraigg Brathwaite (Barbados) caught at first slip by England skipper Joe Root off Broad to stand at 1-1. Their timid response became a real scramble, Holder’s troops fading fast to stutter to 59-4 after 25.3 overs.

They were in the mire to conclude the second day’s play at 134-6, trailing by 235 runs and seemingly desperate for their lower order batsman to bag runs on Sunday to stave off the threat of an embarrassing follow-on.

Holder (46) led by example and, with the help of fellow Bajan Shane Dowrich (37), guided the tourists away from the follow-on as the Windies were bowled out for a measly 197 off 66.4 overs. Broad’s four-wicket haul before lunch, to finish with impressive figures of 6-31, whittled out the lacklustre tourists.

But there was some good news for Holder, as he passed a historical milestone of 2,000 Test runs to become only the fourth West Indian to bat at seven or lower to reach that impressive figure. The other trio were all wicketkeepers, namely Jeffrey Dujon (Jamaica), Ridley Jacobs (Antigua) and Dinesh Ramdin (Trinidad).

England’s healthy first innings lead of 172 runs seemed to instil confidence into the hosts at Lancashire’s ground. Rory Burns (90), Dom Sibley (56) and Joe Root (68no) were magnificent with the bat and the hosts made a courageous declaration at 226-2.

  

The Windies, who lost wicketkeeper Dowrich to a facial injury trying to gather a  Gabriel short ball and replaced by Joshua Da Silva (Trinidad & Tobago), were set a virtually mission impossible mammoth task of scoring 399 to win.

Broad’s day-long burst of brilliance continued when he reached 499 Test wickets to leave the Windies languishing at 10-2 at close of play.

Broad captured both John Campbell (Jamaica), nicking the man of the moment’s third ball to Root in the slips, and nightwatchman Roach edging behind to Buttler.

With rain wiping out the penultimate day on Monday, the tourists had to rely on further adverse weather conditions to rescue them on Tuesday if they were going to retain the Wisden Trophy that they so spectacularly won 18 months ago 2-1 on Caribbean soil.

But Holder’s troops lacked any fire in their belly and completely capitulated as England pounced to leave the Windies, who made a slumbering start, battered and bruised at lunch by standing at 84-5.

Broad became only the seventh Test player to claim 500 wickets, within the opening hour of play, when he trapped opener Brathwaite leg before. And three years ago Brathwaite was also the 500th Test victim for an England bowler, James Anderson who failed to add to his tally in the morning session at Old Trafford.

Man of the moment Broad produced the catch for the fourth wicket, when Shai Hope (Barbados) mis-hit Chris Woakes’ delivery and was dismissed for a solid 31 to register his best Test score in a little over a year. Woakes sent Shamarh Brooks (Barbados) back to the pavilion, hitting an inside edge behind to Buttler on 22. A second shower, 20 minutes before the scheduled interval, meant an early lunch.

With sunny weather there was never going to be a great escape because of bad weather, and a 90-minute onslaught followed as the tourists were dismissed for a lowly 129 in 37.1 overs with Broad (4-36) and Woakes (5-50) doing most of the damage. Blackwood’s resilient knock of 23, the last wicket in the Test series and caught by Buttler off Broad, signalled a disappointing end to a tour that started off so promisingly for the Windies.
 
In reality they gifted England the Wisden Trophy, which will be replaced next year and renamed the Richards-Botham Trophy in honour of former all-rounders Viv Richards (Antigua, West Indies) and Ian Botham (Somerset, England).

England, who climb to world no.3 behind India and Australia, will rest their current squad ahead of the three Tests against Pakistan that begins next week (5 August). A England representative team, which will not include any of those who faced the Windies in this Test series, will face Ireland in three one-day internationals next week.

Big questions will be asked in the Caribbean following these tepid displays, which have left the Windies stunned by England’s sheer dominance over these final two Tests. They return home with an unwanted record of seven unsuccessful tours on British soil to remain without a series victory in England since 1988 but did come within a hour of edging a draw in the 2nd Test, which would have rewritten the history books in favour of Holder’s now demoralised squad.

  

Captain Holder will no doubt be forced to shuffle his pack for a revival, and maybe when they regroup they will no be so reliant on such a large contingent from his island of Barbados.

However, it is not quite time to press the panic button for the Windies. In reality they need to uncover one more paceman to add fear to the rampant attack of Gabriel, Holder and Roach. And arguably without Jamaican veteran Chris Gayle in their ranks their batting line-up looked too light and meek, although Brathwaite, Brooks and Roston Chase seem reasonably reliable at the crease but desperately require some back-up support.

ENGLAND WON WISDEN TROPHY TEST SERIES 2-1
8-12 July
1st Test – West Indies won by four wickets

Ageas Bowl, Southampton

16-20 July
2nd Test – England won by 113 runs

Old Trafford, Manchester

24-28 July
3rd Test – England won by 269 runs 

Old Trafford, Manchester 

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