NORTH SOUND, Antigua – A newly invigorated West Indies reclaimed the coveted Wisden Trophy for the first time in a decade after they produced yet another imperious display to thrash a bewildered England by 10 wickets inside three days of the intriguing second Test here Saturday.
On another day of high drama at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground when 14 wickets tumbled, West Indies were dismissed in their first innings for 306, about 25 minutes before lunch, but then routed England spectacularly for a dismal 132 in their second innings at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
England were destroyed by Man-of-the-Match seamer Kemar Roach who snatched all four of his wickets early in the final session to claim four for 52 and match figures of eight for 82, while captain Jason Holder was equally destructive in picking up four for 43.
Set just 14 runs to win, left-hander John Campbell (11 not out) smashed the 13th ball of the innings from veteran seamer Jimmy Anderson over the mid-wicket ropes, as West Indies emphatically notched their first series victory over a higher-ranked team in seven years.
“[My emotions] are difficult to describe now …,” an overjoyed Holder said afterwards.
“I think we’re hungry, we’re hungry for success. This group has been together for the last year-and-a-half to two years and we’ve been doing some exceptional things.
“Credit to the boys for sticking to the task. I think it is something we really wanted and obviously the way we ended last year was a bit daunting as well and everybody wanted to turn things around.”
Resuming the day on 272 for six, the hosts lost their last four wickets for 34 runs but importantly secured a 119-run first innings lead to put England under increased pressure.
Left-hander Darren Bravo, in only his second Test following a 27-month break, converted his overnight 33 into exactly 50 – his 17th Test half-century.
The knock was a marathon one, spanning 216 balls and a shade over six hours and included two fours and a six, marking the slowest-ever half-century by a Windies batsman in Tests.
He was last out, stumped off off-spinner Moeen Ali (3-62), attempting to farm the strike as West Indies sought to add to their lead.
England’s bowlers stayed disciplined on the unpredictable surface and were rewarded as Anderson (2-73) claimed two of the wickets to fall while new ball partner Stuart Broad finished with three for 53 and Ben Stokes, two for 58.
Holder added three to his overnight 19 and extended his seventh wicket stand with Bravo to 45 before edging Anderson behind, 35 minutes into the morning, and Roach fell for six nearing the hour mark when he attempted an ambitious drive at Anderson and edged high to Stokes at second slip.
Sadness surrounded Alzarri Joseph’s arrival following the news of the early morning death of his mother but the 22-year-old bravely survived 20 balls before perishing to the first ball of a new Stokes spell, edging a defensive prod to be taken low at third slip by Rory Burns going to his right.
Openers Joe Denly (17) and Burns (16) then survived four tricky overs before lunch to carry England to the break on nine without loss, and extended their opening stand to 35 afterwards, with Roach and Shannon Gabriel proving ineffective.
The tide changed, however, once Holder and Joseph formed an alliance, and they wrecked England’s top order with two wickets apiece, leaving the visitors in disarray on 75 for four at tea.
Holder struck with the first ball of his spell, having the left-handed Burns caught by Campbell at third slip, 40 minutes after the interval, and the dismissal opened the floodgates as England lost four wickets for 24 runs in quick time.
Jonny Bairstow missed a booming drive at Holder and was bowled for 14 and Joseph, who produced an inspired spell of two for 12 from seven overs, got the first of his wickets when he brought one back to have captain Joe Root caught behind off the inside edge for seven, after the Windies resorted to DRS.
The grieving Joseph, displaying extraordinary emotional control, then put an exclamation mark on the session when he removed Denly’s off-stump after the right-hander shouldered arms.
Obviously still reeling from the 381-run crushing in the first Test in Bridgetown last weekend, England failed to muster a recovery after the break, as their last six wickets perished for 57 runs.
Stokes, dropped before he had scored by Campbell at third slip off Joseph, departed in the fourth over after tea, bowled for 11 missing a drive at Roach and Moeen followed for four in Roach’s next over, also bowled playing around a full length delivery.
Tottering on 96 for six, England’s decline continued when Ben Foakes was lbw to Roach for 13 on review and three balls later in the next over, Jos Buttler fell lbw to Holder, after top-scoring with 24 off 48 balls with five fours.
The end drew even nearer when a fired-up Roach got a full length ball to pitch and straighten and hit Broad plumb in front without scoring and Joseph fittingly ended the innings when he dived forward from mid-on to hold a smart catch, after Holder forced Anderson (0) into an awkward defensive stroke.
The final Test bowls off in St Lucia next Saturday. – CMC