ENGLAND IN WEST INDIES, 2019
The series win against England was West Indies’ first against a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since defeating New Zealand in 2012 © AFP
West Indies captain Jason Holder wants his side to become the best team in the world but admits they still have work to do after a 2-1 series victory over England.
Despite a heavy defeat in the final match in St. Lucia, a game which Holder sat out after being suspended for a slow over rate in the previous Test, defeating England in a series they were expected to have little chance in has been a significant achievement for the men from the Caribbean and a vindication for the calm, steady leadership of their captain.
It was West Indies’ first series win against a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since defeating New Zealand in 2012 but Holder realises his side are far from the finished article. In particular, their top order batsmen need to produce more consistent returns. Although they battled hard at times during this series, notably in the first innings in Barbados and second innings in Antigua, none of the top five averaged more than 36.
“We need to continue to build and not rest on our laurels. Our number one goal is to be the number one team in the world so there is a lot to improve on,” said Holder. “We have got to keep improving in the three facets of the game and be clinical and lot more consistent. Our bowlers have done an outstanding job. It is up to our batsmen to contribute more.”
Kemar Roach was rightly named player of the series for his 18 wickets at 13.88 and although he was the standout bowler on either side, he found excellent support in Holder, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph, all of whom made decisive contributions throughout the series. Keemo Paul, who replaced Holder in St. Lucia, looked the goods too before injury curtailed his match. Collectively, West Indies’ fast-bowlers simply out-bowled England’s.
A word for the pitches too. West Indies could have taken the conservative route and prepared low, slow wickets to negate James Anderson and Stuart Broad but to their credit, they kept pace and bounce in all three surfaces used in the series. That benefited their hit the deck style fast-bowlers more than the tourists’ and also produced interesting cricket where ball dominated bat. It was a brave and worthy approach to take.
The home team’s capitulation on the final day was, however, indicative of a team who had already won the series. Two booming drives outside off-stump accounted for opener John Campbell and number four Darren Bravo inside the first seven overs of their second innings and those early inroads dashed any thought of West Indies batting out the day. Overall it was a lacklustre effort but probably the first time that could be said of them in this series.
One batsman who did tough it out was Roston Chase who scored a fine century in defiance of England to help West Indies scrape past 250. It was Chase’s fifth Test hundred and ended a poor run of form which has seen him make seven single figure scores in his last ten innings. Following his 8 for 60 with the ball in Barbados, it’s been a decent series for the Bajan.
“I had a chat with Roston before his innings,” said Holder. “He was a little disheartened with his dismissals in this series so it is good to see him knuckle down and get some runs, especially in the context of the day. It would have been easy for us to be rolled over.”
Like England, West Indies now turn their attention to white-ball cricket and preparations for the World Cup. Their next assignment in Test cricket is the visit of India in July and if the bowling attack can stay fit, they could cause Virat Kohli’s men some problems. Under Holder, this West Indies team mean business.