Broad sets up England’s victory charge with quick-fire wickets
West Indies only just avoid follow-on after devastating spell Root’s team seek quick runs today in bid to level the series
A week ago Stuart Broad was “frustrated, angry and gutted”. Now he is happy and fulfilled after gutting West Indies with a second new ball spell that kept alive England’s hopes of levelling the series on a tantalising final day today.
At one stage Broad turned to Lancashire’s Victorian pavilion and revved up an imaginary crowd before turning away, kicking his heels up and running in to take three wickets for one run in 14 balls. West Indies had been gliding towards the follow-on target of 270 but were knocked off their stride by Broad firing himself up. Suddenly, 242 for four became 287 all out to concede an 187-run lead.
Broad and Ben Stokes, backed up by Chris Woakes, pulled England back into it as West Indies lost six for 45 against the second new ball to put a fire under this game, but bat well today and West Indies will retain the Wisden Trophy.
Stokes yanked his team back into the match by sending down an exhausting barrage of bouncers with the old ball. It took so much out of him he was almost sick after tea and had to go off to take an antacid. The stomach for the fight soon returned as he opened the batting in England’s revised order.
He will go out today to continue the charge and extend the lead of 219 by around another 50, to leave England approximately 85 overs, enough for a second new ball, to win the game. West Indies had partnerships of 54, 53, 76 and 43 as they chipped away at the follow-on target on a day when cricket had its first saliva transgression. The umpires wiped the ball with an antiseptic cloth after Dom Sibley admitted to licking his fingers. England were let off without a warning and it is surprising it had taken so long for it to happen.
The pitch was a carbon copy of one from Asia, rather than northern England, and it was back-breaking work at times for England’s seamers. Sam Curran used his cutter, a ball he has honed with England in recent times, to remove Shai Hope caught behind just after lunch, but this was where Jofra Archer’s absence was felt.
Archer was in the nets at one stage, running in full PPE, as he was let out of his isolation room for some exercise like a prisoner allowed to walk around the yard. But how England needed him bowling around the wicket to Kraigg Brathwaite and Sharmarh Brooks.
Instead it was the job of Stokes, running in for 11 straight overs, banging in 57 short balls, relying on his fitness to bowl to a leg-theory field. It was a maximum effort and it rallied England. Eventually Brathwaite succumbed after his best innings for two years, popping up a caught and bowled in Stokes’s 10th over for a composed 75.
Brooks batted superbly, playing some excellent whips off his legs and driving the off spinner when he overpitched, but was less comfortable to balls aimed into his rib cage. Stokes is awkward but at his pace Brooks was able to ride it out in a way he would have found a lot more uncomfortable if Archer or Mark Wood had been bowling.
Broad took over the bouncer mantle, bowling two overs of short balls around the wicket and found his rhythm just in time for the crucial phase of the game. West Indies were 235 for four, 35 short of the follow on with Brooks on 63, when England took the second new ball. The challenge was simple for West Indies: bat well, see off the shine and the Wisden Trophy would be safely defended.
Broad recalibrated his length, going full, bringing the batsmen forward, and was soon on a run. It was not quite vintage Broad but good enough. Brooks was lbw to his eighth delivery with the new ball that would have hit middle stump. The harder ball and sharper seam brought the vagaries of the pitch into the game.
Jermaine Blackwood was bowled with one that kept low and hit his off stump about a third of the way up. Broad was back. Soon he was celebrating in customary fashion. Shane Dowrich was hit in front, Broad ran off to celebrate barely looking back at the umpire. Three reds on review were like flashing lights on a dashboard warning of a collapse. West Indies were 252 for seven, still 18 short and reeling.
Jason Holder is out of sync with the bat and Woakes took over where Broad left off. A full ball outside off stump, moved away and took the edge. Ten runs needed to make England bat again. Chase kept calm and pulled Curran for four to ensure West Indies would not have to follow on. Now it was a question of how many they could lop off England’s lead. Not many. Chase went for a polished 51, as Woakes finished with three for 42.
Sibley sprinted off to put his pads on but as he passed Joe Root there was a polite tap on the shoulder. Don’t bother. Have a sit down.
Out strode Stokes and Jos Buttler to open the batting as if playing in their Rajasthan Royals kit or a World Cup super over. It was the first time England had used four openers in a Test for more than 50 years. It was a sign of intent but Buttler chopped on a wide ball for a duck. It was a selfless way to get out but he might regret it when he looks at the end of series averages and if his position is in question.
It will be an important final day for Dom Bess. His inexperience showed yesterday as he struggled with his length after starting perfectly with a wicket from his second ball. He bowled a wide attacking line yesterday but lacked the control of length and conceded runs at more than three an over.
To expect a 22-year-old to run through West Indies is a big ask but unless he improves he might find Jack Leach takes his place.
A concerned Joe Root looks on as his bowler gingerly feels his stomach (right), the effects of bowling an exhausting barrage of bouncers with the old ball