West Indies walked over the boundary line towards the pavilion feeling the elation of victory. Over the first two Tests, the West Indies did not really match England blow to blow, but they were still standing and ready to bring the fight. England can hardly say the same after another dismal showing. On a pitch with something in it for the bowlers for the first time, the hosts were exceptional and the tourists miserable.
In the first innings, they had England by the throat at 67-7 and 114-9. Yes, England’s tail did wag with Saqib Mahmood making his highest-ever first-class score with 49 and Jack Leach adding a well-made 41*. But if the West Indies lacked a wicket-taking threat in that period, it also never really felt like they had lost control. Control is such an underrated thing in Test cricket. You can take a flurry of wickets. Go a whole session without one. However, you never really know whose on top until you see how they perform in between the sessions, the overs or the intervals.
Brathwaite yelled in distain when his rank leg-side long hop was swept down to fine leg. You’re the captain. You should not be doing anything to compromise the look of your team’s composure but there was some swagger in the way they walked off the pitch where you felt it didn’t matter. The last two Tests have, for the most part, had little to recommend them to the casual viewer. To bring the fans in, it’s probably advisable to lock up those pitch curators in a cupboard and keep them their until the next edition of the CPL (or just about any ODI series). But in Grenada, they got it just right.
It may not have been a particularly even contest between bat-and-ball, but that was more down to the frailties of this England batting unit than any problems with the pitch. After all, Josh Da Silva scored an excellent century (his first in Test cricket) on it, and that just hours before England collapsed in a heap once again. One rather suspects that the West Indies won’t care that much. They showed grit and determination with the bat and real quality with the ball. If they continue to combine those two ingredients, they should be able to beat better sides than England.
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