Prior to the start of the Test series, one could have crystal glazed and see England whitewashing West Indies at home, but it wasn’t to be. Not many gave the visitors a chance to put up a fight leave alone winning a game. After a disheartening defeat at Birmingham, West Indies came out hard and stunned everyone by winning the Headingley Test. The ultimate encounter at Lord’s was a virtual final, where England registered an emphatic win and won the series 2-1.
Spirited West Indies did well occasionally and have seen a glimpse of a competitive side in the making. They did create problems for a champion side like England but will have to do it more frequently in the future. This tour has provided answers to many of their questions and they have a lot of positives to take from it. The journey is long, but the road looks promising. Their fortunes in Test cricket have often oscillated between mediocrity and occasional sparks of brilliance.
After being obliterated at Birmingham, they left everyone bewildered with an awe-inspiring show at Headingley. They carried that momentum at Lord’s as well but their batting failure in the second innings cost them massively. Not to forget, Ben Stokes and James Anderson too had an outstanding run with the ball in two innings respectively.
In the recent times, West Indies did win a Test against Pakistan at home and UAE, although they lost both the series. And put up an inspiring resistance against India at home to save a Test; these are good signs.
Talking about batting, West Indies need to add some more solidity to the line-up. Kraigg Brathwaite impressed at the top and will hold the key as an opener for West Indies in the matches to come. Brathwaite scored 283 runs in three games at 47.16, which also included two valiant performances at Headingley. Kieran Powell did well at Lord’s, but his parched runs column in the first two games didn’t help him achieve fruitful results. His consistency will help West Indies form a solid opening pair alongside Brathwaite.
Kyle Hope squandered a golden opportunity of making an impact at three. With just 41 runs at a mere average of 6.83, Kyle Hope will have to score ample of runs if given an opportunity against New Zealand to cement his spot in the side.
West Indies have found a solid middle-order batsman in Shai Hope. He showed monk-like temperament and churned crucial runs throughout the series. His performance in the second Test, where he plundered centuries in both the innings, helped West Indies square the series. Kraigg Brathwaite played an equally important role in engineering this victory.
Hope garnered 375 runs from three Tests at a staggering average of 75. He averaged 19.57 before the start of this Test series in 10 games but has bettered his numbers significantly. He now averages just over 31 and with age being on his side, one can only expect him to get better. England is one of the toughest places on the planet to score runs against the red ball and Hope has certainly raised the expectations by finding success here.
Shai Hope was quoted by ESPNCricinfo saying, “It’s good to get some runs under my belt. Hopefully, I can carry it on. It’s a tough place to play cricket. It was a very good learning experience for me. It’s about trusting your plan, your game.
Shane Dowrich, Roston Chase didn’t live up to the expectations and kept getting out at crucial stages. Chase was handy with the ball in picking seven wickets but needs to pull his socks up as a middle-order batsman. West Indies batting would certainly inspire more confidence with the presence of Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin.
Kemar Roach finished the series as the leading wicket-taker for West Indies with 11 scalps in his basket. He looked good with the new ball, especially at Lord’s, where he led the West Indies’ fight back with a much-needed fifer. Shannon Gabriel, on the other hand, can form a dominant bowling pair alongside Roach. Gabriel has proved his worth in the past and poses the challenge of a different kind. West Indies bowling had been too dependent on these two while Jason Holder needs to find consistency.
As a whole, West Indies need a lot of work in all the three departments – batting, bowling and fielding. They have dropped too many catches in the series, which needs to be addressed right away.
Jason Holder said, “We have a lot of positives to work with. We still have to be a lot more consistent with the ball and with the bat fight harder at the start of the innings. We also dropped a number of chances. Hopefully, it’s a breakthrough series for Shai Hope, in the toughest conditions in the world and one of the best attacks.”
West Indies have a base and this series has provided a good picture. They have talents that can excel in this format. But can they convert and live up to the expectations? Well, that is for the time to decide, but this West Indies side have won hearts and have kept the faith alive.