• Five talking points: England overpower West Indies

    England responded in fine style by convincingly winning the second Test against the West Indies by 113 runs in Manchester. ANDRE HUISAMEN highlights five takeaways from the hosts’ dominant performance.

    Broad’s selection a no-brainer

    Having surprisingly missed out on the first Test in Southampton, Stuart Broad was integral in England’s success at Old Trafford. With James Anderson granted a rest, Broad’s experience with ball in hand swung momentum in England’s favour in both of the West Indies’ innings. His ability to trap right-handed batsmen in front due to consistent line and length troubled the visitors a lot. The 34-year-old took six wickets in the match and in both innings he struck quick and fatal blows to the West Indies batting attack to give England the ultimate edge.

    READ: England outclass West Indies

    Hetmyer missing link in West Indies batting

    The absence of both Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo was always going to be felt at some stage throughout this Test series in England. Although Sharmarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood have pulled their weight to some extent with the bat, the West Indies’ batting lineup looks vulnerable most the time they are out in the middle. Hetmyer’s role in this, though, is critical as he has been a key factor in the West Indies’ recent successes in red-ball cricket. The 23-year-old announced himself against England in the Caribbean last year and has since been proving his worth as one of the most exciting young talents in world cricket. Given how easily the West Indies’ batting collapsed at stages in Manchester, his contributions down the order could’ve been a handy welcome to force a possible result on day five.

    Stokes in class of his own

    Ben Stokes continues to prove that he is competing in a league of his own and was deservedly named Man of the Match on Monday. His scores of 176 and 78* in the two innings were backed up by three wickets across the Test match, but it was his effort and work rate on the final day that impressed many. On Monday afternoon with Brooks and Blackwood at the crease, Stokes was steaming in with the hope of breaking the tidy partnership between the two. Blackwood punched Stokes off the back foot and with no mid-off in place, Stokes went chasing after it having just delivered a 135km ball. He went all out and what looked a definite boundary, was stopped with a brilliant diving effort that restricted the end result to only three runs. Stokes could easily just have left the ball and sacrificed the extra run, while sparing him the much-needed energy. Instead he remained determined to cut the ball off before jogging back to complete his over.

    Root’s captaincy key to England’s success

    He might not have done as great with the bat in hand, but Joe Root’s return certainly had a changed England team take the field at Old Trafford last week. It was a given that England were going to be better than they were in Southampton but the return of the captain definitely sparked a more solid approach from the hosts. England were in control from the very first day but it was the way Root used his bowlers in the two innings that ultimately gave them a great platform. With Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran back in the team, the spotlight was always going to be on them and how they perform. Their quality was used to perfection by Root and also the introduction of spinner Dom Bess proved to be key to them winning the Test, especially towards the end on Monday when Bess picked up two crucial wickets.

    WATCH: Highlights: England win second Test

    Hope desperate for runs

    Shai Hope’s heroics from Headingley three years ago seem to be long forgotten and truth be told, he has hasn’t scored Test century ever since. The loss of Hetmyer and Bravo should have had Hope raise to the occasion to anchor the middle order of the West Indies batting lineup, which in both Test matches so far has failed to build a proper base for a big total. Hope’s dismissals in the two innings at Old Trafford highlighted a man who is struggling for form and who lacks concentration at key times while batting. Taking nothing away from the English bowlers, Hope looks far from the guy that was almost impossible to dismiss in 2017 when the West Indies claimed victory in Leeds.

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    Andre Huisamen