Men in maroon claim maiden success in Grenada to clinch Test series with a day-and-a-half to spare
Kyle Mayers’ first Test five-wicket haul and Joshua da Silva’s maiden century helped the West Indies easily capture the inaugural Richards-Botham Trophy by a resounding 10 wickets in Grenada today (27 March).
It came as a surprise to see all rounder Barbados’ Mayers called up to replace Guyanese spinner Veerasammy Permaul, bearing in mind that Grenada had previously been a success for seamers but especially spinners in the three Tests played at this venue.
Skipper Kraigg Brathwaite, whose record-breaking innings breathed some life into the dreary 2nd Test draw in Barbados, hit the winning runs as the Windies claimed a swift triumph in front of the smallest crowd in the Test series so far. The Caribbean troops maintained their remarkable home record over England, who sit rock bottom of the World Test Championship table with just one win from 19 matches, dating back to the visitors stunning the Windies in 2004.
With England adding a 90-run last-wicket stand to finish on 204, the West Indies surpassed that total with Trinidadian Da Silva’s sublime 257-ball unbeaten 100 to finish on 297 all out that entertained the enthusiastic crowds. Mayers rattled through England’s second innings to end with incredible figures of 5-18 off 17 overs, as the visitors collapsed to 120 all out.
Bajan Braithwaite led by example by breezing to 20, with four boundaries, as Jamaican left-hander John Campbell added six as the Windies eased to 28 in 4.5 overs for a deserved victory.
Braithwaite, named the Player of the Test Series, stuck to the same 13 players for the series and explained: “It is a total team effort, I must commend everyone. In every game someone put up their hand and played a great role and did the job.
“We will learn a lot from this series, to show the fight and the attitude, form the get-go from the warm-up. It is for us to keep building.”
Having shared the spoils on lifeless wickets in the opening Tests in Antigua and Barbados, when England’s supporters greatly outnumbered fans of the West Indies, the decider at the National Cricket Stadium in St. George’s seemed an unknown quantity until the opening day.
Brathwaite elected to bowl after winning the toss as there was more grass on crease than the flat pitches than the previous two Tests, and plenty of West Indies fans came out in their droves for the deciding Test.
The return of pacer Mayers immediately paid off with the cheap of opener Zak Crawley and England captain Joe Root.
England’s middle order buckled under the pressure after Jayden Seales dismissed Dan Lawrence lbw for 46-3, part of a five-wicket collapse in 12.1 overs with fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach grabbing wickets to leave England in dire straits at 90-8.
Chris Woakes added some steel before being clean bowled by Seales for 25 as England reached 114-9 at tea-time. A resilient final wicket partnership of 90 between Jack Leach (41no) and Saqib Mahmood (49) was only broken in the last over of the day when rarely-used Jamaican off-spinner Jermaine Blackwood grabbed a wicket.
On a bowlers wickets the West Indies initially struggled in the middle, and stuttered to 95-6 before Da Silva came to the rescue with an unbeaten 54 as the hosts closed the second day at 232-8.
Barbados’ Roach failed to add to his tally on day three, whittled out for a patient 25 to end a 68-run ninth-wicket partnership after being caught down the legside by Woakes off Saqid Mahmood. Seales joined Da Silva to stifle the England bowlers, but was caught and bowled by Root to end an impressive 52-run last-wicket stand.
Da Silva’s first ton in 14 Test appearances surpassed his previous highest score of 92, scored against Bangladesh last year. He spent just under six hours at the crease, becoming the first West Indies no.8 batman to hit a Test century since former captain Jason Holder scored an unbeaten 202 on his home ground in Barbados against England three years ago.
England’s second innings saw Crawley sent packing in the fourth over, caught by Holder at second slip off Seales.
Then Mayers began to rattle his way through the lacklustre England side. Root joined Crawley back in the pavilion, after being caught head high at first slip by Campbell, and in the next over Lawrence was out for a duck. Mayers had left-hander Ben Stokes caught behind by stand-in Barbados keeper Shamarh Brooks, who briefly replaced injured Da Silva, as England reached a pitiful 43-4.
A superb stand of 41 for the fifth wicket was broken by Antigua’s Joseph with Jonny Bairstow (22) caught behind by the returning Da Silva. And in the same over Ben Foakes was run out by Mayers’ accurate and rapid return into the safe gloves of Da Silva.
Mayers then clean bowled opener Alex Lees (31), and reached his five wickets when Holder at third slip caught Craig Overton for 101-8. It seemed all doom and gloom for the tourists as England finished the day on a paltry 103-8.
Roach soon captured the wickets of Woakes and Leach on the fourth day, with the total of 120 leaving the West Indies a tiny target of just 28 to win the Test Series.
The West Indies, who had never before won at the National Cricket Stadium having been held to a draw by New Zealand and then tasted defeat to both Bangladesh and England, raced to their set total with Braithwaite scoring two runs through the on side off Mahmood early in the morning session.
With their first home Test series success since beating England in 2019, the West Indies lifted the Richards-Botham Trophy that has replaced the Wisden Trophy.For England, whose whistlestop Test series in the Caribbean started and ended badly – they stuttered to 48-4 in their opening innings in Antigua – this was a wake-up call that they remain in the doldrums as far as Test cricket is concerned.
Ricky Skerritt, the Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, proudly said: “On behalf on CWI and the West Indies supporters around the world, I want to express heartfelt congratulations to captain Kraigg Brathwaite, head coach Phil Simmons and the entire team on what were truly outstanding efforts from start to finish.
“It was a remarkable three weeks of cricket, which saw our team battle hard to earn draws in the first and second matches.
“Then, with all to play for, they seized every opportunity in the final match to triumph in style. This will put smiles on the faces of West Indies fans everywhere as we lift the fabulous Richards-Botham Trophy for the first time.”
8-12 March | 1st Test (Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua)
WI drew with England
England 311 (100.3 overs) & 349-6 declared (88.2 overs)
West Indies 375 (157.3 overs) & 147-4 (70.1 overs)
16-20 March | 2nd Test WI v England (Kensington Oval, Barbados)
WI drew with England
England 507-9 (150.5 overs) & 185-6 declared (39.5 overs)
West Indies 411 (187.5 overs) & 135-5 (65 overs)
24-28 March | 3rd Test WI v England (National Cricket Stadium, Grenada)
WI beat England by ten wickets
England 204 (89.4overs) & 120 (64.2 overs)
West Indies 297 (116.3 overs) & 28-0 (4.5 overs)
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