As I feared, the visiting West Indies cricket team crumbled to England losing the 3rd and final test match and giving the host a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.
As a West Indies fan I was disappointed at how the West Indies batsmen just folded so sheepishly in the last 2 matches. It was reminiscent of how the batters played the Indian fast bowlers in the Caribbean last year.
When the West Indies squad was selected for the short tour to England, it dawned on me that this was the weakest West Indian batting lineup I had seen in my lifetime to go overseas.
Opener John Campbell was out of sorts. The body language and defensive mindset of Campbell’s opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite just gave the opposing bowlers the confidence that they can get at him as he was not one to rotate the strike regularly.
The way the West Indian batsmen kept getting dismissed playing back was just frustrating to watch.
With Shimron Hetmeyer opting out of the tour the West Indies missed the one player we knew who would take on the English fast bowlers in an aggressive fashion.
But credit to Joe Root’s side for coming from behind and winning so decisively. England gave a team performance with most of the players chipping in at crucial times.
Stuart Broad continues to show was a brilliant and fiery strike bowler he has become. Here the West Indies could learn something from Broad. It was long known Broad-the-batsman had difficulty with short pitched deliveries meaning his wicket was an easy gift for opposing bowlers.
But in the 1st innings of the final test Broad made a crucial half century that took the game away from the West Indies. Later on Broad told the media that he had worked on his batting to fix some flaws such as keeping his head still.
What can anyone else say about Ben Stokes’ batting in the 2nd test?
Coach Simmons/Captain Holder – Who Is In Charge?
When Phil Simmons was reappointed head coach of the West Indies in late 2019 I was lukewarm about the move as (in team sport) I am against managers return to previous jobs. Such moves normally end in tears. But as a fan I backed him the minute he was appointed.
What was disappointing for me was that the West Indies administration could not find a senior batting coaching position for former West Indian great Desmond Haynes. Haynes had lost out to Simmons for the head coach position. [England’s batting coach is the tenacious Graham Thorpe.]
I like captain Jason Holder. But he (& coach Simmons) must demand more of his batsmen and get his bowlers to develop an aggressive and hostile attitude towards the opposition. I was bemused by the lack of short pitched bowling from the West Indies. The most aggressive West Indian bowler on show was the one playing for England, Jofra Archer.
I would suggest that – as an all-rounder/captain – Holder studies the leadership display of another captain/all-rounder from the past – Imran Khan. Imran molded his team of under achievers into a competitive team that even gave the great West Indies teams of the 1980/1990s a run for their money.
As captain of Pakistan, Imran did not allow for mediocrity to blossom and was not afraid to make his feelings quite clear to his players in clear view of the public. The players feared him.
[In the first few years of the Waqar Younis test bowling career, Imran stood at mid-off and told Waqar which delivery to bowl at the batsman. That’s some attention to detail, but it worked and turned Waqar into one of the greats.]
Holder’s defence of his friend Shai Hope’s dreadful batting form was just ridiculous and even drew harsh criticism from fans back in their home of Barbados. Hope should have been dropped for Nkrumah Bonner for the final test. Bonner deserved an opportunity and it was a waste to take him to England and not blood him.
Hope was selected based his one day form. I expected better judgement from chief selector, Roger Harper.
- Holder was the highest ranked batsman in the West Indies team so why was coming in so low down the order?
- How could Holder/Simmons win the toss twice at Old Trafford and bowl first? Twice? Especially when you stacked the team with a long batting line up? Traditionally if you win the toss at Manchester you bat first as the batting last is very dangerous on a pitch well known for breaking up on the last day. Yes, England stepped up their game in Manchester but Holder gave up a psychological edge when he choose to bat first.
Following the victorious first test match, captain Holder told the West Indian media that the preparation for the series was the best he had experienced as a player. Holder also waxed lyrical on the back up West Indian squad who he said gave his main players a working over in the nets. So what happened after that win Jason?
Not playing four fast bowlers was another serious error of judgement on the part of Jason Holder and Chemar Holder (no relation) deserved a debut place to share the new ball in that final test.
Much as Shannon Gabriel bowled brilliantly in the first test we all know his fitness is an issue and could not play 3 straight matches in such quick succession without some set back. He was never the same player after the first test.
The West Indies side lacks commitment, courage and characters. They certainly require a talisman or 2.
But there are talented young players in the Caribbean who with regular experience of the 4 day game could have a successful future for the West Indies test side e.g. Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder and Jayden Seales
Rain Stops Play – No Problem: Roll the Archives
As expected the 3 match series was interrupted by rain. This gave the excellent Sky Sports team an opportunity to broadcast documentaries of previous England/West Indies battles and discuss the state of the game.
Sky also showed features on the likes of Ian Botham, Vivian Richards and Michael Holding. The appreciation that the British media and fans of long standing have towards the likes of Richards and Holding is underestimated by many in the Caribbean. As in certain parts of the Caribbean some have zero clue of the exploits of those former great players.
Ryan Moore is one of the top jockeys in the UK for the past 2 decades. Moore is known for his dour persona at the track. So too see Moore speaking glowingly and jokingly (in one of the Sky docus) about his long-term friendship with racing-fan Holding is a testament of how the former West Indian great is revered even in rural England.
But Holding will be long remembered from this series for giving one of the most awe-inspiring statements on the issue of Black Lives Matter.
Test Cricket Resuscitated?
In recent years some have tried to write off test cricket. But the last 4 weeks just showed to cricket fans that this format of the game is still relevant.
So looking forward to seeing how the touring Pakistani batsmen play the England pace attack in a few days time. Babar Azam vs Archer looks mouthwatering.
But I am also keen to see the Pakistani teenage sensation, Naseem Shah, given he has the perfect bowling action for English conditions.
Let us hope England repay the West Indies in kind and make a reciprocal visit to the Caribbean in the next 12-18 months. If not, I would love to see a West Indies A vs their English equivalent play home and away. Our younger talented players need more matches, more experience of the longer version of the game. Plus playing in English conditions would improve their batting technique with the better pitches up there.
The poor standard of Caribbean pitches continues to turn mediocre slow bowlers into budding Shane Warnes at the regional tournaments. Time for quicker pitches across the Caribbean to assist our batters and fast bowlers in equal measure.