West Indies crushed England by 10 wickets to win the third Test and claim the three-match series on Sunday. Set just 28 for victory after dismissing the tourists for 120 in their second innings, openers Kraigg Brathwaite (20) and John Campbell (6) knocked off the runs inside five overs.
The first two Tests in Antigua and Barbados had ended in tame draws. England were dismissed for 204 in their first innings while West Indies made 297.
West Indies resumed with their third-day wrecker, 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.
All-rounder Kyle Mayers starred in the demolition of the England second innings with impressive figures of 5-18.
wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua da Silva who was named man of the match for his undefeated 100 in West Indies’ first innings.
“Very proud,” a buoyant Kraigg Brathwaite said at the close, already a couple of sips of champagne down.
“My first home series win, so very happy. It was a very, very good series for us.
In two hard-fought draws in the first two games I thought England played extremely well and we had to show some fight in the last days of both of those games. But coming here, we ramped it up. It’s been a remarkable effort.”
It’s a series victory that extends a proud record, with West Indies losing just once to England at home in Test cricket since 1968. And even that sole reversal, in 2004, is already 18 years ago, which is as long as England waited between Ashes victories from 1987 to 2005, and longer than they’ve been made to wait for a series win in any of the other established Test nations bar Pakistan (whom they haven’t been to visit for 17 years and counting).
A point of real satisfaction for West Indies on this occasion, however, is that this wasn’t just the Jason Holder and Kemar Roach Show but a squad wide effort.
In Nkrumah Bonner, Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood and Joshua Da Silva, there were four separate centurions. Jayden Seales equalled Roach for wickets with 11 apiece and Alzarri Joseph was just one behind. Kyle Mayers and Veerasammy Permaul took more wickets than Holder despite both playing fewer matches. The West Indies rallied. And rallied together.
“I believe this is the start,” Brathwaite said. “But we can’t become complacent. We have got to keep learning, keep improving. That is one thing with the youngsters in the team – Joshua, Jayden, Alzarri – they are willing to listen.
That is the only way to get better, Jason Holder and Kemar Roach and Jermaine Blackwood really leading the way, and the guys learnt a lot on the job. I think it’s the start and we have to continue to work hard.”
But if there was one man to laud with praise and whom without the series result would have been reversed, it was Brathwaite himself. With 341 runs at an average of 85.25, Brathwaite faced 901 deliveries across the series with Joe Root the next highest having faced 565. It was fitting therefore, that from the 901st and final delivery he did face, he struck the winning runs.
“Yeah that felt well,” Brathwaite smiled in reflection as he pondered both the winning runs and the question of whether this had been his best-ever series with the bat.
“Really good. Very happy that as a team we came out on top. It’s close, to be honest. And it very well may be. As a three-match series it was one of my best.”
Brathwaite and his men held aloft the Richards-Botham Trophy, all such issues were secondary to the glory of a West Indies team that has once again rallied round. Their remarkable home run of success against England has now extended to three series wins and a draw since 2004, and one loss in 11 campaigns since 1968.
“We had a camp before the series began, and we said this is one of our best series at home, we’ve got to fight hard,” Brathwaite said.
“It’s carried through in every game, someone else raising their hand and doing the job, whether’s it’s in the field, or with the ball or with the ball, spending time. The effort was remarkable.” he added