The pink ball was supposed to be the only chance West Indies had in this series. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster as their bowlers were wayward, batsmen were clueless and fielders sloppy. Not for once did West Indies look like they stood a chance in the game except probably a spell from Kemar Roach where he seamed the ball prodigiously.
A former captain and the current captain strung together a game-changing 248 run partnership and West Indies just looked on. They could do nothing but look on.
They looked jaded, uninspiring and clueless as Root and Cook nudged, then flicked and drove their way to respective hundreds.
And Jason Holder looked on.
When the new ball was available and the night sky had zoomed over Edgbaston, West Indies continued to bowl with the older ball and a few part-timers.
Maybe they forgot that they had an option to pick the new ball. Maybe they were too stunned by the elegance of Root and the determination of Cook that they themselves did not want it to end. Maybe they did not know that the new pink ball swings extravagantly under lights.
Even when that lone fighter, Kemar Roach, returned to clean up Joe Root with the new ball which they finally took, they let a novice Dawid Malan, still making baby steps, circumspect ones at that, in Test cricket get away with a half-century.
England went on to pile up 514 runs with Alastair Cook completing his fourth double hundred in Test cricket and perhaps his easiest one. He was barely questioned, let alone troubled. The writing was on the wall the West Indian seamers sent down balls all around the stumps. They were ill-disciplined and bowled without a plan. School kids plot better.
In fact, coaches in schools select teams better. Why they chose to sit out Shannon Gabriel, their best Test bowler in 2016, is known only to them.
Only one of the eleven that West Indies brought to the field has played more than a hundred First-class matches (Kraigg Brathwaite). They are inexperienced and amateur but at this level of the game, they cannot afford to sit back and watch the opposition build up a mountain.
Till day 2, it was England, England and England although West Indies did dig in at the end of the day to lose just a lone wicket despite Anderson and Broad consistently beating the bat.
And then day 3 sprung upon the Windies with vengeance and they were completely destroyed. 19 West Indian wickets fell in the day. Read that again. NINETEEN wickets fell in the day. In a day, ‘Hope’ walked in and walked out four times apiece for the West Indies, yet they had little to hope for.
Perhaps the only silver lining in the cloud was Jermaine Blackwood’s defiant half-century. But with no support at the other end, he could not carry the Test match into the fourth day at the very least. Their crisis man, Roston Chase, could not rise up this time and Blackwood led a lone battle, which amounted to nothing but increasing his own average.
“It’s obviously very disappointing, we didn’t show enough fight,” Holder had said after the match as revealed by ESPNCricinfo. “We were totally outplayed. We’ve got to just believe, we have a few days off now, we have to use them wisely. We’ll sit and talk, and formulate some plans about how we are going to go, but it’s not impossible. It’s just one game, the series is not lost, we have believe, regroup, and come back strongly.”
Holder is right in one way. “It’s just one game”. But the sheer manner in which West Indies surrendered in a day gives them little to no hope. They scored 168 and 137 at Edgbaston. Cook alone made 243 in one innings.
As Holder believes, they are “young side” but they have got to learn quickly because this England side is merciless and ruthless. Where they find their fight after this crushing defeat is up to them to find out. But at this stage, it looks near impossible but not totally according to their skipper who commented, “We’ve got to stay in the game and stay in the fight. Only a couple of Tests ago, England were beaten by South Africa, and we’ve competed really well in the last few Tests we’ve played. We beat Pakistan and they beat England here last year. So it’s important for us to stay with it, and come back strongly.”
But X beats Y and Y beats Z, so X can beat Z does not hold true in cricket. But if West Indies want to believe they need to come up with such illogical reasons and motivate themselves.