“It was a spineless performance from England especially from their batsmen in the first innings. They have shown that batting depth does not necessarily guarantee runs and instead should work on getting their balance, and combination right for their next game”
After scoring just 77 in the first innings, there are very less teams that would manage to get something out of the match, regardless of how good you are. Of course, you can put up a fight and try your best to take the match as deep as possible. However, a team that boasts of having players with First-Class centuries up to the No. 10 batsman could not even score a combined century in the first innings, which is nothing short of embarrassing. Call it complacency, over-confidence or under-estimating your opponents, England, who have won 8 out of their last 9 Tests, including whitewashing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, found Windies too hot to handle.
England captain Joe Root admitted after the match that he got the selection wrong and that he should have played Stuart Broad instead one of the spinners. He perhaps went with both Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, considering how well they did in Sri Lanka. The conditions in West Indies are a lot different than the subcontinent and looking at the damage Kemar Roach caused in the first innings, it would not have hurt if England played another seamer. James Anderson did his bit in the first innings, but then barely found any support in Sam Curran, who managed just a solitary wicket from his 29 overs in the match.
Still, there was enough quality in the England batting line-up that could have put up a fight against a West Indies side, that has been inconsistent for the better part of the last 4 to 5 years, but a team who are without a doubt heading in the right direction. While in the first innings, England were undone by some excellent deliveries, in the second innings they had themselves to blame for their fate, which Root admits himself. “There was a few very soft dismissals in there,” said Root. “In the first innings there was a little bit of misfortune and West Indies bowled extremely well but there wasn’t a huge amount on offer for West Indies today. It was disappointing to see some of the dismissals.
Also read: West Indian devastation at Barbados
“It is difficult to take but just because we’ve had three bad days of cricket – and one really bad hour which has swung the Test dramatically – it doesn’t mean we can’t win here. We are desperate to put it right in Antigua,” Root said, reflecting on the Barbados Test.
Nobody in the England team barring Rory burns played more than 100 balls. Keaton Jennings showed some fight, but was not able to play the free-flowing innings that we have seen him do in the past and threw his wicket away. What followed after that was a string of batsmen, who got starts, but failed to kick on. There is a very thin line between playing positive cricket and playing rash shots. While the bowlers are putting pressure on the batsmen, it is natural that the batsmen will look to break out of their shell and play some shots. But it is important for the batsman to asses the conditions, the pitch and once he gets his eye in he also has to shoulder the responsibility of taking his team to safety. While there were a couple of 30s and 20s other than Burns’ 84, none of the more experienced players looked to survive, which is worrying.
At Antigua, Broad might get a look in, but it will not be a bad idea to bring in Joe Denly into the team as well. An experienced cricketer for Kent, Denly could slot in at 3, with Bairstow playing lower down the order. Although Root has an average of more than 40 at No. 3, he prefers batting at his usual No. 4 position, which means that the No. 3 is up for grab. Although Bairstow scored a century at 3 at Colombo against Sri Lanka recently, he cannot be a long-term solution in that position. It would not hurt Root bat one down as well.
England will certainly have better days than these in Tests. This was perhaps their one-off poor Test and they were punished by West Indies. The way they bounce back in the second Test will show the team’s real character. There is still a lot of cricket to be played in the series and England still have a chance to win the series. But they cannot afford to take West Indies lightly and more importantly, will have to focus on their own game.
It was a spineless performance from England especially from their batsmen in the first innings. They have shown that batting depth does not necessarily guarantee runs and instead should work on getting their balance, and combination right for their next game.