It was music to my ears to hear on the first morning of the game that WI had won the toss and had elected to bat. I believe deciding to send in the opposition in five-day cricket has been one of the causes of many bad performances by our teams in the twenty-first century. I say this notwithstanding Nasser Hussain`s comment during the game that the wicket was a “bowl first pitch.” Our modest first innings score of 123 was overtaken by England only after having lost 8 of their wickets, and only a never-say-die performance from Broad with the bat allowed England to take a 71 run first innings lead. The England tail of Roland Jones (13), Broad (38) and Anderson (8) defied our bowlers, especially when Holder couldn’t give the ball to Gabriel because he was still bowling no-balls even after he had been required to perform the phenomenal task of clean bowling a rampaging Stokes twice in the same over, because the first time he was called for a no-ball. England’s 8th wicket was that of Stokes from the above-noted command performance by Gabriel, which should have been a pivotal point in the match.
It demonstrated the kind of determination that could have triggered something special from our boys. Instead they fell into a poor mental state that allowed Broad to dominate, or perhaps rampage would be a more appropriate term. Instead of even scores or a small English lead of, say, 20, through his efforts primarily the lead was 71, which in a low-scoring game is tough to handle.
The batting conditions during our second innings on the second day were tough, and Anderson was not only deadly accurate, but got the ball to move at will. While the dismissal of Brathwaite was the result of a somewhat careless shot, Powell was out to an almost unplayable ball. Kyle Hope may simply be having a poor tour, but his choice as number 3 on this team is difficult to explain. Shai Hope again showed his class, and by the end of the day the game seemed to me to be in the balance. Anderson was like a puppet master on the start of the third day, and judging by the manner in which Chase and Blackwood were dismissed (caught in the slips pretty early) it did not seem that they had a plan for the early overs.
In any event Anderson`s bowling performance was one for the ages, Except for the captain, the lower order starting with Dowrich, who had lost all confidence even before the tour began, could not handle such ball movement.
Following a victory against Pakistan at home the victory in one of three 5 day matches in England should put an end to the calumny that modern West Indians can`t play ‘Test’ cricket.