England seek 2nd Test revenge in West Indies tour
West Indies inflicted a humiliating 381 run defeat on England in the first of three tests. A first innings batting collapse by the Three Lions and the brilliance of Roston Chase for the hosts proved key.
England’s preparations for a tournament packed 2019 took a morale-sapping blow as the Three Lions were soundly beaten by West Indies at Bridgetown. The West Indies thrashed England by 381, a scoreline that would have been much higher had England not improved their batting performance after suffering the humiliation of being all out for just 77 in the first innings.
Expecting the batters to survive for two days against the West Indies attack would be a tough task, even for the most ardent Barmy Army fan. When the chasing tally score was 628, a face-saving performance was the most realistic thing that England fans could hope for.
England’s second innings started well and a positive start by Rory Burns gave a glimmer of hope. Once Burns’ wicket fell for 84 shortly before lunch it started a slow and steady decline rather than a batting collapse. An hour after tea England were all-out for 246, a defeat of 381 at the hands of the West Indies with a day to spare. Much of the damage was done by a superb performance by part-time off-spinner Roston Chase. He ripped through the England batting order and took a career best of 8-60.
How England react to this surprising defeat could well provide an insight on how the National team will perform in a busy cricketing year. The 2019 Cricket World Cup is being held at the end of May and will be hosted in England and Wales. A few months later in August, England takes on Australia in The Ashes. A World Cup win and victory in the regular grudge matches against Australia would be spectacular but this first test performance will prove a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead.
Despite this momentous win for the West Indies, they will be cautious of an English backlash in the 2nd test. A reason why the West Indies team is so far from the pinnacle they used to once call home has been their lack of consistency. In half a decade, they have beaten top-ranked test opposition on six occasions and in all but one of those six, they have lost the next one. This was evident in 2017 when West Indies won at Headingley, only to lose the series a week later.
Interim coach of West Indies is aware of his team’s frailties, he has urged his players not to get too carried away with this victory, saying:
Absolutely we have to keep our feet on the ground. We have our goals for the series. We have ticked off the first test and England will be hurting.– Richard Pybus, West Indies coach
Criticism of England’s performance in the first test has led to a war of words between ex-England cricketers and West Indies Cricket chief executive Johnny Grave. When West Indies captain Jason Holder scored 202 in the West Indies second innings, former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff stated on Twitter that the “world’s gone mad”, insinuating that Holder was not the calibre of player to be reaching that score.
Prior to this test, England legend Geoffrey Boycott described the current West Indies team as “very ordinary, average cricketers”. The chief executive responded by stating he felt both the comments as “borderline disrespectful”.