No-one saw the West Indies’ massive 381-run win over England in the first Test at Barbados coming, which is a testament to the intrigue and fascination of Test cricket, as well as the fighting spirit of the West Indies side, writes SIMON LEWIS.
England lost nine wickets for 42 runs in the first innings of the first Test against the West Indies, offering the hosts the tantalising opportunity to enforce the follow-on after they had scored just 289 in their first innings.
The West Indies’ first innings score was one of the lowest in Test history to offer a captain the option of asking their opponents to follow on, but the West Indies were wise to decide rather to bat again to ensure they didn’t have to chase runs in the fourth innings. The West Indies’ batting has been brittle for many years, so it was far wiser for them to deal with a possible batting collapse in the third innings (when they still had time to recover) rather than trying to fight back from a top order failure when chasing in the fourth innings.
As it turned out, the West Indies followed England’s disastrous first innings 77 by collapsing to 61-5 on a day that saw 18 wickets tumble. With that collapse happening in the third innings of the match it provided the canvas for Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich to execute their record-breaking undefeated seventh wicket stand of 295.
Lowest Test scores at Bridgetown, Barbados
|West Indies||93||31.2||Sri Lanka||2018|
|New Zealand||94||47.4||West Indies||1985|
The 295 runs added by Holder and Dowrich was the pair’s second 200-plus run partnership, in addition to being the third highest seventh-wicket stand in Tests and the second-highest for the West Indies. Without doubt their partnership was the difference-maker between the teams, and England (ranked No 3 in Test cricket) would have suffered a nasty shock to be downed by the West Indies (ranked as the eighth-best Test side).
West Indies recent Test series results: Won 6, Lost 14, Drawn 2
England recent Test series results: Won 12, Lost 7, Drawn 6
A look at both sides’ records in Test series since 2012 offers all the evidence England would have needed to head into the Test series in confident mood, but the beauty of Test cricket is that a ‘weaker’ team sometimes just has to win a few key sessions to turn the form book on its head.
West Indies and England Test series form book
|New Zealand||WON||2-0||West Indies||WON||2-0|
|New Zealand||Lost||2-0||New Zealand||WON||2-0|
|South Africa||Lost||2-0||Sri Lanka||Lost||1-0|
|Sri Lanka||Lost||2-0||New Zealand||Drawn||1-1|
|Sri Lanka||Drawn||1-1||South Africa||WON||3-1|
The West Indies have been on a terrible losing streak, which would have dampened their enthusiasm and spirit, but considering the spread of terrific batting and bowling performances from them throughout the side in this Test, one can only hope it will spark a revival of their red-ball fortunes.
The cricketing world is so much better when the West Indies are playing well and beating top nations, and although the ‘smart money’ might bet on this performance being a one-off, the ‘heart money’ will surely hope it’s the start of great things to come from this exciting group of cricketers.
England’s lowest Test scores
|45||Australia||Sydney||28 Jan 1887|
|46||v West Indies||Port of Spain||25 Mar 1994|
|51||v West Indies||Kingston||4 Feb 2009|
|52||v Australia||The Oval||14 Aug 1948|
|53||v Australia||Lord’s||16 Jul 1888|
|58||v New Zealand||Auckland||22 Mar 2018|
|61||v Australia||Melbourne||5 Mar 1904|
|61||v Australia||Melbourne||1 Jan 1902|
|62||v Australia||Lord’s||16 Jul 1888|
|64||v New Zealand||Wellington||10 Feb 1978|
|65||v Australia||Sydney||1 Feb 1895|
|71||v West Indies||Manchester||8 Jul 1976|
|72||v Pakistan||Abu Dhabi||25 Jan 2012|
|72||v Australia||Sydney||1 Feb 1895|
|75||v Australia||Melbourne||29 Dec 1894|
|76||v South Africa||Leeds||29 Jul 1907|
|77||v Australia||Lord’s||19 Jun 1997|
|77||v Australia||The Oval||28 Aug 1882|
|77||v West Indies||Bridgetown||23 Jan 2019|
|77||v Australia||Sydney||14 Mar 1885|
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images