HomeCricketWest Indies win battle of fast bowlers in an...

West Indies win battle of fast bowlers in an enthralling Southampton Test

- Advertisement -

Only the English will be disappointed after an enthralling Test match at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton ended with visitors West Indies deservedly winning by four wickets.

International cricket needed a comeback of this nature, and the millions glued to their TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones around the world couldn’t have asked for a better spectacle.

- Advertisement -

In many ways, this was a surreal return for international cricket.

Empty seats and muted celebrations were only one part of the widespread changes necessitated in the game by the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Indies drew the first blood in a three Test series. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)
First Blood: West Indies drew the first blood in a three Test series. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)

England, the haven of swing bowling, saw bowlers trying innovative ways to get movement off the air because saliva, an integral part of the modern game, could not be used to shine the red cherry.

However, that did not deter the visiting pacers from bowling with rhythm, accuracy and determination to scalp a dramatic win against the overwhelming favourites playing at home.

England boasted celebrated pacers of their own, most notably the king of swing, James Anderson, and the rising star of fast bowling, Jofra Archer, who kept someone like Stuart Broad out of the team.

They had, in captain Ben Stokes, another quality fast bowler and a genuine speedster in Mark Wood.

But the English quartet paled in comparison to the verve and guile of their West Indian counterparts over five days of quality Test match cricket.

The stars of the show were undoubtedly the Caribbean skipper Jason Holder and tearaway quickie Shannon Gabriel. 

The two picked up 16 of the 20 English wickets during the Test with lead pacer Kemar Roach going wicketless in the match.

Holder, often questioned about his Test credentials as a cricketer, rose to the occasion like a gladiator entering the Coliseum.

His 6/42 in the first innings reduced the ODI World Champions to 204. Holder generated nip off the seam and showed genuine pace in his classy spell.

Gabriel was a revelation. He managed to extract bounce off the track regularly and hit the stumps with an accuracy that England batters, featuring class in Stokes, Jos Buttler and Rory Burns, found tough to handle.

In both innings Gabriel sent the wickets flying.

Indeed, the Windies’ strategy of attacking the stumps in the absence of significant movement was replicated by the English to good effect in the second essay with the Caribbeans chasing a tricky total on a dramatic final day.

At the beginning

One can surmise that this famous West Indian win was set up on the second day with Holder and Gabriel bundling out England who bat deep, with  Jos Buttler coming in at seven. The conditions were slightly overcast, but by no means a pacer’s paradise.

England bowlers over-stepped on a couple of occasions which saw wickets being overruled. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)
Over-stepping: England bowlers over-stepped on a couple of occasions which saw wickets being overruled. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)

Indeed, Burns and Joe Denly had dug deep on a curtailed first day to set England on their way to a sizeable total on the second.

The hosts were at 48/1 and looking reasonably comfortable having blunted Roach when Denly failed to negotiate the raw pace of Gabriel.

Gabriel castled many of his victims and the images of the stumps cartwheeling were reminiscent of the way Caribbean pacers of yore breathed fire; from Holding to Walsh, Gabriel seems to be the flagbearer of a sacred tradition.

However, despite his four wickets, it was captain Holder, who brought himself on last, who really upset the English applecart.

Slower than his opening bowler, Holder relied on accuracy, bounce and seam movement to get his wickets.

He got the prized wickets of Buttler, Ollie Pope, and counterpart Stokes in an identical manner, with all of them edging the ball to Shane Dowrich behind the stumps; a true testament to the sterling line and length the all-rounder maintained.

Back for seconds             

However, with West Indies scoring 318 in the first essay in reply to England’s 204, Holder knew they were not out of the woods yet.

The Caribbean batsmen were talented but unpredictable and any chase close to 300 on the final day was bound to be tricky.

That’s why he needed his pacers to fire again.

With Roach having another off day, it was left to Gabriel to deliver the goods once again.

Image
A Fifer: Gabriel was on the money in the second innings picking up a fifer. (Credits: Twitter/ Windies Cricket)

The Trinidadian did not disappoint. At 32, Gabriel’s story is that of unfulfilled potential.

Possessing the pace and technical attributes to be one of the best in the business, Gabriel has struggled to generate the consistency that can help him be counted as one as one of the top pacers of the world.

Maybe things are changing in the dusk of his career.

The English had no answers to his unsettling pace once again as he hit the right line and length with amazing accuracy throughout the second innings.

Gabriel picked up 5/75, while skipper Holder got the prized wicket of captain Stokes at 46 and Alazarri Joseph got two to make it 8 scalps for the pacers in the innings.

 Jermaine Blackwood took the visitors West Indies home in a nail-biting finish after being 27/3 at one stage. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)
Resilient: Jermaine Blackwood took the visitors West Indies home in a nail-biting finish after being 27/3 at one stage. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)

England folded at 313 and West Indies needed exactly 200 to script a historic victory.

It was up to the England pacers to replicate what Gabriel and Co. did, but, despite early promise, a resilient Jermaine Blackwood took the visitors home in a nail-biting finish.

Anderson, Archer fall short

Despite reducing West Indies to 27/3 at one stage in the second innings, the England pacers never really had the bit between their teeth in this match.

Anderson, the storied swing bowler, was a big disappointment, going wicketless in the second innings and picking up three in the first.

So much is expected of Archer in the coming years, but he fired blanks for most of this match as well, except one fine spell at the beginning of the second essay where he really showed his class.

He, conversely, went wicketless in the first and picked up three in the second.

Image
A Sorry Story: The expression on Mark Wood’s face betrays the story of English bowlers in the Southampton Test. (Credits: Twitter/ ICC)

Stokes or Wood never really managed the bite and verve of Holder and Gabriel at any stage of the match either.

Often, the English bowlers looked toothless with the Sun out and the ball not doing enough.

They failed to find that extra yard that their rivals did at crucial junctures.

Will we see the return of Broad in Manchester? Root, as he returns clearly, has a lot on his plate. His pacers need to stop misfiring if they want to make a comeback in what is turning out to be an intriguing Test series.

Follow us on Facebook for more sports news & updates

- Advertisement -

15 Highly Educated Cricketers Of All Time

Cricket is a game of passion and dedication. A sport in which one involves themselves in camps and practice since early childhood. Due to...

Do we often under-appreciate Andy Flower? What’s his legacy?

There's a hint of sadness in noting that Zimbabwe has never been a dominant power in world cricket. But nothing could be sadder than...

Why are more and more MotoGP riders using the Noson nasal dilator?

Introduction MotoGP riders or athletes are physically fit and healthy individuals and their muscles are continuously functioning and used during the performance. As a fan...

How Come UFC Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears But Boxers Don’t?

The UFC has come a long way since its early days, wherein the fights seemed like modern-day gladiators due to its brutality and inconsistent...

5 spinners who can be India’s potential finger-spinners

The Indian cricket team has always been proud of its ability to produce world-class batsmen and similarly potent spinners. Though in recent times, the...

IPL 2018: The beautiful Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Being seated in the Sawai Mansingh stadium brings a different world, a world of difference away from the palpable excitement of watching truly India’s...

Top 5 Left Wingers In The World, Based On 2019-20 Season

Owing to the fact that football has evolved a lot since its inception and the tactics have changed a lot, the role of wingers...

The astonishing decline of Mario Balotelli

There was a time when Mario Balotelli was on top of the world.  The Italian talisman had scored two goals in the Euro 2012 semi-finals,...

What can be expected from the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Heat in the air and heat inside the car- that's been the story of the Azerbaijan Grand prix. As F1 parks itself at Baku...

How Suresh Raina Batted India Into The Finals of 2011 World Cup

Its been 9 years, since India won the Cricket World Cup defeating Sri Lanka on 2 April, 2011. The images and visuals of...

IPL 2018: The best from the West Indies

When one of nature's treacherous attacks on mankind- earthquakes- strike, their impact is measured on Richter's scale. When West Indians strike in a tournament...

Age Fraud in Indian Cricket: Are players really to be blamed?

There have been times while watching a cricket match when we tend to hear commentators comment on cricketers’ age. We as fans have many...

Big change for India Women’s cricket as BCCI looks to finalise bowling coach soon

We are not even at the halfway stage of the 2018 cricketing season. It clearly seems there's no stopping India's women's cricket team. The...

Ajax XI if they didn’t sell their star players

Based in Amsterdam, AFC Ajax, who incidentally draw their name from the legendary Greek hero of the same name, are the most successful club...

5 famous players to play for both Leeds United and Liverpool

Leeds United are back in the Premier League after 16 years and will play Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday in their very first match...

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -