England Vs Windies 1st Test THE REVIEW
Remember when Gandalf in ‘The Lord Of The Rings : The Two Towers’ said “look to my coming at first sight on the 5th day, at dawn look to the east.” Or during the Battle Of The Bastards from the popular show Game Of Thrones, when Jon Snow’s Army were about to be slaughtered but then came a sound of horn and in came the Army of Vale who not only rescued Jon Snow but defeated the Bolton Army. Such were the vibes that we all Cricket fans were dying to get it with the announcement from England And Wales Cricket Board when they announced a 3 match test series with West Indies Cricket Board. At the time of pandemic, when the world still hadn’t recovered from a certain disease that originated and spread from China, this series has given us Cricket fans a taste of happiness once again as Cricket resumed after over 115 days of no International Cricket. A big thank you to ECB for hosting this test series and an even bigger thank you to WICB for agreeing to tour England in the middle of a pandemic. Since there was no International Cricket for the past couple of months, the hype surrounding this test series was unreal. Michael Holding very rightly said that this test match would be the most watched test match ever, not in terms of crowd that showed up in the stadium obviously, but in terms of viewership as probably the whole world was watching this lovely game of Cricket that we dearly missed.
Before that first ball was bowled, Sky Cricket posted couple of videos on the issue surrounding the Black Lives Matter and who better than Michael Holding to explain what he feels like about this movement. Like in the Premier League, even Cricketers just before the start of the game, kneeled for this all-important cause.However it came with a twist. The start of the first day’s play was delayed and there was no play for the first 3 hours due to rains. After all the formalities and all the hype surrounding this test match, finally the first ball was bowled and it felt as if normalcy had finally returned. You can ask any Cricket fan and they would definitely say that the first day of International Cricket since Covid-19 was even more frustrating than 117 days of no International Cricket because of the rains and the stop and start nature of play. However, It took only 10 deliveries to witness the first wicket to fall as Dominic Sibley tried to leave a ball that nipped back in without realising that the ball would hit the stumps and it did as Shannon Gabriel produced a peach of a ball to remove the opener. The Day 1 had to be called off sooner due to bad light and only 17.4 overs were bowled.
The weather gods were kind enought to allow a test match to happen as Day 2 saw slightly better conditions to play Cricket. However the decision to bat first by Ben Stokes was highly questionable considering they knew that the first couple of days would be overcast and windy. And Windies made sure they took advantage of the conditions very well as they kept bowling at the right areas and with the help of clouds, got swing that baffled the English top order. Joe Denly got out to another nip backer off Shannon Gabriel which was similar to his previous dismissal to remove Dominic Sibley. Not only did he remove Joe Denly, he also sent Rory Burns back to the pavilion with his inswinging Yorker that hit the leg stump after reviewing. Shannon Gabriel was on fire during the start of Day 2 and England could never recover from that as Jason Holder produced a fine spell from the other end removing Zak Crawley via lbw first, then Ollie Pope nicking to the keeper, and Ben Stokes too getting dismissed in similar fashion. England were 154-6 when Stokes got out and their ship sunked with Buttler, who played couple of counter attacking strokes for his 35, getting out shortly after. Although the tail of England managed to score some runs towards the end, they could only make 204 in their first innings. It was a good start for the Windies as England could not pick up any wicket in the first 12 overs but it was Anderson who produced their first breakthrough removing John Campbell for 28. Day 2 ended with Windies in a good position scoring 57 runs in 19.3 overs losing only a wicket.
Whether it is a nip backer from Shannon Gabriel or be it Jason Holder with his hostile spell of bowling, the fact of the matter is Windies kept getting wickets and England kept losing them. After putting up 204 runs on the board with a bit of help from the taileneders, it was time for Windies batting to step up and match their performance with the bat as they did with the ball. They started off really well as they didn’t lose any wicket until the last ball of the13th over.
The Day 3, like day 2, too belonged to Windies as they kept scoring runs at a good rate as they managed to put 318 runs thanks to half centuries from Kraig Brathwaite and Shane Dowrich. The middle order too chipped in with some runs as Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase scored 39 and 47 runs respectively. The decision to counter attack by Jermaine Blackwood didn’t pay off as he threw his wicket away scoring just 12 runs. Windies scoring 318 runs meant that England were trailing by 114 runs and it seemed like Windies were in the driver’s seat at the end of Day 3.
Day – 4 – The first session completely belonged to England as they put up 79 runs on the board losing just one wicket off Rory Burns who was in good nick until he got out off a loosener off Roston Chase’s bowling. Dominic Sibley and Joe Denly stitched a good partnership for England but it didn’t last long as once again it was Shannon Gabriel who provided the breakthrough. Since then England’s ship began sinking again slowly as they kept losing wickets in regular intervals and allowed Windies pacers to dominate once again after a good start from the top order of England’s batting line-up. England’s tail again came to rescue as Jofra Archer managed to play some big shots getting his team some valuable runs to defend.
As a fan of Cricket, we were treated with some quality batting and an exceptional performance with the ball from both the camps as Day 5 was a day in which all three results could have been possible. But England couldn’t hold on as they lost the remaining two wickets giving Windies a target of 200 to win the test. Windies, as well all know, have a fragile batting line-up as they lost 3 wickets just for 27 runs and everyone thought this game was going in one direction and that was England winning and Windies losing but in came a hero in the form of Jermaine Blackwood who along with Roston Chase stitched a healthy partnership after losing quick wickets in the start. At 100-3, Jofra Archer dismissed Roston Chase with an unplayable short ball that tangled the batsman as Windies lost their 4th wicket needing another 100 to win the test. Shane Dowrich played another gutsy knock as he got his team closer to the target but got out when his team wanted another 30 runs to win. England throughout their innings with the ball, had multiple chances to claim Windies wickets but they just couldn’t take it and failed to put pressure on their batsmen resulting in a heavy defeat as Jason Holder along with well made 95 from Jermaine Blackwood saw them through and win a test match for England.
In the end, we got everything we wanted, from Shannon Gabriel’s nip backer to Kemar Roach’s outswingers to Captain Holder removing Captain Stokes twice and from Blackwood throwing his wicket away in the first innings to Blackwood playing a sensible knock in the second innings, we saw a proper test match being played by proper match winners. England have multiple issues to solve as their batting looks extremely weak on paper and the decision to give Mark Wood a go instead of Stuart Broad left many confused as that selection didn’t pay off well for them. Plus the absence of Joe Root clearly showed how fragile their batting is without him. But in the end, the better team won and Windies were clearly a much improved side as they seem to have got many decisions correct be it reviews from the captain Holder or otherwise. Thank You for reading my review, I hope you guys liked it, do share if you feel this article was helpful. And as always, keep loving Cricket as that’s what keeps us alive. Onto the next test match now.