Cricket WI v Eng

West Indies win the Test series against England

The West Indies registered a series win against England and the World Champions in the 50-over formats digested another series defeat that certainly needs some soul searching.

Victory for @windiescricket 👏

West Indies complete a ten-wicket win to take the Test and the series 🏆#WTC23 | #WIvENG |

— ICC (@ICC) March 27, 2022

On Day 1, England slumped to 67 for 7 in the hour after lunch – a passage of play that included three key wickets for no runs in ten balls, and six consecutive single-figure scores from Nos. 2 to 7 – England seemed hell-bent on resetting their very own red-ball reset. After the earnest insistences from Joe Root and Paul Collingwood that lessons had been learned and progress had been made since the all-too-recent misery of the Ashes, the hyper-implausible figure of Kyle Mayers begged to differ, as his startling morning figures of 5-5-0-2 instigated a collapse that could have come straight out of Scott Boland’s playbook.

But then, out of the wreckage strode the batting saviours of Jack Leach – still as diffident as ever, even with his contrasting heroics at Headingley and Lord’s to serve as cult-status proof of his unlikely prowess – and England’s newest recruit Saqib Mahmood, who fell to the day’s final ball for an agonising 49, the highest score of his professional career.

🗣 @joshuadasilva08 #WIvENG #MenInMaroon #Shark🦈

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) March 26, 2022

With Leach left high and dry on 41 not out, Nos. 10 and 11 had top-scored in a Test innings for the first time since 1885, when Australia’s Tom Garrett and Edwin Evans had made 51 not out and 33 not out respectively, in what turned out to be a thrilling six-run win against England.

Together – Leach and Mahmood sapped the resolve of an all-too-easily deflated West Indies attack, whose collective legs were weary after the exhaustion of the first two Tests, and whose adrenaline bonked all too soon after the fall of Chris Woakes to the second ball after tea – at which point, with England in tatters at 114 for 9, their opponents seemed mentally to check out and put their pads on in anticipation of what promised to be the decisive innings of the series.

They were still waiting, 90 runs and more than 46 overs later.

The celebration says it all! Joshua Da Silva hits his maiden Test century! #WIvENG

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) March 26, 2022

Nevertheless, the final analysis of England’s innings revealed two men with scores in the 40s, and next to nothing else – and so on balance, West Indies’ decision to bowl first remained amply justified, even in a topsy-turvy fashion.

On Day 2, West Indies staged a near-replica of their own – a collapse of seven for 78, either side of lunch, as Chris Woakes dragged his length back and with it, fleetingly, his reputation in overseas conditions, then a late-evening revival with Joshua Da Silva’s diligent 54 not out to the fore, as West Indies’ eighth and ninth wickets racked up 104 series-tilting runs.

England were huffing and puffing as if they were back in Antigua or Barbados – including with the second new ball, which came and went in six anodyne overs with as little malice as the first. And in the contest’s final analysis, the combined analysis of 72 for 0 that West Indies have been able to pick off while those balls have been at their hardest may yet prove to be pivotal. For whatever else England may have achieved in the name of their red-ball reset, finding an answer to their toothlessness up top is not one of them.

That said, the most successful of England’s bowlers in the innings to date is that man Woakes, although his current analysis of 20-6-48-3 – already among his best in 20 overseas Tests – tells only a fraction of his story. Prior to this series, West Indies’ openers, Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell hadn’t made a half-century stand on home soil since England’s last visit to the Caribbean in 2019 – and they’ve never yet made a century stand in 35 attempts, the most by a top-order pair in Test history.

Stars of the day! ⭐️🤩#WIvENG #MenInMaroon

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) March 26, 2022

On Day 3, Da Silva and his No.11 sidekick Jayden Seales continued the remarkable trend of tail-end runs with a tenth-wicket stand of 52. By the time they were parted on the stroke of lunch, a slender lead of 28 had swelled to 93, and given that England had shipped eight wickets in reaching that mark in the first innings, it was clear that the afternoon was sure to be fraught with drama.

Da Silva did have some early moments of discomfort though. On 65, he was given out lbw as Chris Woakes briefly hit a fuller, straighter length, but the decision was over-ruled due to an inside-edge, and Da Silva hadn’t added to his total when, one over later, Woakes pinned him on the bottom hand with a lifter, a blow that necessitated a couple of visits from the physio, and later caused him to pass over the wicketkeeping duties to Shamarh Brooks.

England’s frustrations were soon off the scale, seeing as they should have removed Seales only moment after he came to the crease. He hadn’t yet got off the mark when Mahmood pinned him in front of off stump, but England had burned all their lifelines in their second-evening desperation. Sure enough, replays showed that the decision would have been overturned, and to make matters worse, the ball deflected past the diving Foakes for four leg-byes.

A maiden five wicket haul for Kyle Mayers! What a day he’s having! #WIvENG

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) March 26, 2022

With drinks approaching, England were forced to turn once more to the toiling Ben Stokes, his knees creaking after his unexpectedly full-on workload in this series, but even his best efforts couldn’t go to hand, as Seales jabbed a lifter from round the wicket through a gap in the cordon and away for four.

England’s stint in the field had stretched past 100 overs when Da Silva decided it was time to take on the spin of Leach, with an ambitious slap back over the bowler’s head for a one-bounce four, just inside the rope. For the most part, however, he was content to bide his time, and marshal the strike, reasonably safe in the knowledge that only an error in judgement was likely to dislodge either man against a notably uninspired attack.

As the session extended, West Indies began to trust themselves to pick up the tempo and stretch their lead – notably when Seales shelved his previous reticence to club the first six of his career, off Leach and over long-on. And with lunch already delayed by the endurance of their partnership, Da Silva finally brought up his landmark moment in thrilling style, with back-to-back boundaries off Craig Overton – the latter a fierce slap off the back foot through long-on as he gave himself room to leg and immediately roared in triumph as he raised both fists to the heavens.

By the close, Jack Leach was once again at the helm, gritting his teeth for his favourite score of 1 not out, and England’s first-innings top-scorer Saqib Mahmood was still in the hutch. But England had left their lower-order a resuscitation job the likes of which has scarcely been achieved since Headingley 1981, after a two-tiered meltdown in the day’s final two sessions.

🔊#WIvENG #MenInMaroon

— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) March 27, 2022

Mayers, West Indies’ unassuming medium-pacer, was in the thick of the action in both phases. As if his first-day intervention of 5-5-0-2 had not been enough of a bonus from a man nominally recalled to reinforce the batting, he capped his comeback performance with the bafflingly brilliant figures of 5 for 9 in 13 overs, as England thumbed through their portfolio of clichéed collapses to serve up quite possibly their worst batting display of an already epoch-ally awful winter.

On Day 4, Kyle Mayers, at one end, and the quicker options of Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph alternating at the other, but Leach and Woakes watched the ball carefully and played within themselves to add 13 runs in a sedate first 40 minutes.

4.5 overs was all the West Indies needed to pick off the 28 runs needed for victory in the third Test in Grenada, and just 89 minutes of the fourth day’s play all told, as the Botham-Richards Trophy was captured with elan to match the heyday of that pair’s rivalry.

Note: Input from ESPNcricinfo