England arrived n the Caribbean in January 2019 on a high and full of confidence as they whitewashed Sri Lanka late 2018 in their own backyard 3-0. West Indies were not given a chance by a couple of former English cricketers before the Test series started, mainly due to the fact that the Windies were humiliated in their last two overseas tours to India and Bangladesh between October to December 2018, as the regional side suffered their first ever innings defeat to Bangladesh in the second Test of that series. It was a tour to forget for the West Indians, but one has to say that the current series being played in the Caribbean just proves that the talent is still existent in this part of the World.
In the first Test at the famous Kensington Oval in Bridegtown, Barbados the Englishmen were bundled out for a paltry 77 by some good, hostile West Indian bowling. Chin music by the likes of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and the highly skilled swing bowling from Kemar Roach, who is in his 10th year of playing international cricket, along with the accuracy of Jason Holder. They then followed this superb bowling performance with a masterful maiden double century by the captain Jason Holder who looked the part with some glorious strokes through the covers and predominantly straight down the ground. Such clever batting was a sure sight for sore eyes in an era where West Indies have managed to struggle against top opposition in the last two decades or so. This superb batting display along with an unbeaten century from his fellow Barbadian Shane Dorwich, set England an impossible 628 to win, and they were bowled out for 246 by Roston Chase’s clever off-spin bowling where he grabbed career best figures of 8 for 60. A stunning 381 run win over the number 3 ranked England team in the 1st Test, was followed up by even more brilliance in the 2nd Test at the Sir Viv Richards Ground in Antigua.
“The pace, hostility and accuracy from the fast bowlers have been evident in the last two years or so and one would ponder that these men can only get better”
On a pitch deemed difficult for batting, England were rampaged once again by excellent West Indies bowling from the 4 quick bowlers for 187. Then a patient half-century from Darren Bravo gave the Windies a lead of over 100 runs to ensure the match was theirs for the taking. England in reply were bowled out for 132 and a 10-wicket win for the men from the Caribbean ensured the famous Wisden trophy was regained for the first time in a decade. This West Indies side is slowly but surely improving in the purest form of the game………Test Cricket. The pace, hostility and accuracy from the fast bowlers have been evident in the last two years or so and one would ponder that these men can only get better, especially young Alzarri Joseph who is a promising fast bowler from Antigua. Patience is a virtue and these West Indian cricketers have given hope to all their true supporters worldwide. One thing they would have to improve on is the batting on a more consistent basis.
The nucleus of the batting revolves around Kraigg Braithwaite, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope and Shemron Hetmyer. All young and talented batsmen definitely need to work on their consistency. Just look at Shai Hope who averages 28 with the bat after 29 Test matches. This average does not do justice for a talented cricketer such as himself. Darren Bravo the most experienced Test batsman in the team can provide inspiration and lead the way with his wonderful batting. After all, he is related to one of the best batsmen the World has ever seen (Brian Charles Lara). The regaining of the Wisden trophy should only be a start of good things to come for the regional side. After all, good things come to those who wait and die-hard fans have waited too long for a dominant series performance from these men. The last time the West Indies entered the final Test of a series already won was back in 1994, when England played them in Antigua and were mere spectators of seeing Brian Lara smashing a world record 375 at the time. Supporters have been patient rallying around the team and everyone knows there is no team in World cricket that celebrates a victory like the West Indies. With India due to tour these great islands after the World Cup in July and August, let’s hope the high standards are maintained. Till then we’ll all celebrate this great Test series victory against England.