England v West Indies Series Summary
England v West Indies. A series that offered so much. Yet, the visitors fizzled out after putting in a superb performance at the Ageas Bowl.
After an absence of cricket in a vacant sporting summer, we have now completed the first series of a congested schedule ahead. England fought back to win an enthralling #Raisethebat Test series 2-1 against the West Indies, despite losing the first match at Southampton. The hosts went on to win both back-to-back Tests at Old Trafford, Manchester to regain the Wisden Trophy for the final time in its current guise.
Here’s what we discovered during the series between England and West Indies across the last three weeks.
Stuart Broad and James Anderson are invaluable to England cricket. As if we didn’t need reminding, the two leading English wicket-takers of all time are still highly important to the success of the England national side. This, despite their advancing years.
The Selectors seemed to believe they could cope without Broad especially in the first Test. Only for him to return to the side and play a huge role in the turnaround, claiming Man of the Series and picking up his 500th Test wicket along the way.
Whilst at some time in the near future both men will hang up their bowling boots, perhaps in the meantime fans and selectors alike should simply be grateful for what a wonderful duo we are baring witness to.
In test cricket, travelling is widely renowned as one of the most difficult aspects of the game. Vastly different conditions often await visitors who can struggle to adapt to their new surroundings.
The West Indies squad to their credit came to the UK in the most extreme circumstances, in order to get cricket back on. They have spent over seven weeks in a bio-secure bubble, cooped up by the same four walls for much of their trip. In truth, by the end of the campaign, they looked ready to head home, to the warmer climates of the Caribbean.
West Indies cause wasn’t helped by the missing players, those who without any blame attached refused to travel given the current uncertainty of the world. There is no doubt the runs of Darren Bravo, in particular, was a huge miss from the tourists batting lineup.
Right Man for the Job
After missing the first Test on father duties, Joe Root returned to lead England to successive wins and turn the series around in the host’s favour. Not to say Ben Stokes was at fault for the first Test defeat. His Man of the Match performance in the second England v West Indies test when he was relieved of his captaincy duties suggests that he is best left to doing what he does best without any added responsibilities. For now at least.
Bringing us nicely on to that man Ben Stokes, his performance, in the second Test, in particular, was one of the extraordinary proportions. He scored over 250 runs and three wickets, carried the team to a win to claw England’s way back into the series. In what was, barring Stokes’s brilliance, an evenly fought second England v West Indies test match.
Having now moved to number one allrounder in the World, the sky is the limit in terms of possibilities for the Durham man.
Bat, bat, bat
W. G. Grace once said “When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.” Never a truer word was spoken. Obviously it isn’t an all-encompassing rule, certain circumstances, in particular weather and pitch may dictate there is no sense in batting first.
However, during this series Windies captain, Jason Holder won both tosses in defeats for his side, electing to bowl in in-different conditions both times. Both decisions proved incorrect as England batsmen worked through what little movement there was with the new ball and posted damaging first-innings totals.
Pace Is Not Everything
Once more this series has proved pace isn’t, in fact, everything. Broad, as we have already discovered, had a remarkable series, his tally of 16 wickets in two matches far and away eclipses the pacier Jofra Archer’s four wickets, also in two Tests. Another paceman Mark Wood was packed, possibly instead of Broad for the first Test, taking two wickets in the match.
Broad may be considered far from slow, however, the obsession with the speed gun stating over 90mph sees the Nottinghamshire man fall short, although his skills earned him plenty of scalps. The quicker men, outside of Shannon Gabriel were somewhat overshadowed throughout the series. The seam bowlers and spinners took the bulk of the wickets.
England were perhaps guilty of forward-thinking. They clearly see Mark Wood and Jofra Archer as their two pace weapons. The Ashes 2021 Down Under is approaching quick. As a result, the England v West Indies series may not have meant as much. Maybe, just, maybe. It is a case of short term loss ( first test), for long-term gains. However, Broad outperformed both in this series. It just illustrates how pace is not everything.
The summer has kicked off in a brilliant sense and English cricket will be forever thankful to the tourists for coming over in such extenuating circumstances. Should the upcoming action be close to what we have seen in this series, we are in for a treat.
England v West Indies was certainly a great series. We perhaps couldn’t have asked for more entertainment post lockdown.
England v West Indies Awards
England Man of the Series – Stuart Broad
West Indies Man of the Series – Roston Chase
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