Leap of faith Pope’s bril­liant catch seals vic­tory

Eng­land level se­ries af­ter stun­ning spell with bat and ball Broad makes his point by tak­ing three cru­cial wick­ets

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult CHIEF CRICKET COR­RE­SPON­DENT

At the mo­ment of vic­tory, Ben Stokes pulled a stump out of the ground and handed it to Dom Si­b­ley as a sou­venir.

Ever the team man, he re­mem­bered young Si­b­ley’s in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion in this hard-fought vic­tory, but it was Stokes who dragged his team to a se­ries-lev­el­ling 113-run win with an all-round per­for­mance of skill with the bat and sheer willpower with the ball.

To fol­low his slow­est Test hun­dred with the fastest fifty by an Eng­land opener set­ting up the dec­la­ra­tion, be­fore bowl­ing an­other marathon 11-over spell of short balls to break West Indies’ most stub­born part­ner­ship, was a per­for­mance wor­thy of a crick­et­ing lord and some­where in North York­shire Sir Ian Botham will have been nod­ding his head in re­spect.

It was not hard to pick a man of the match.

Mo­ments af­ter West Indies were bowled out for 198, Stokes dragged him­self off with a sore groin. He pulled out of his fi­nal over with one wicket left, recog­nis­ing there was no point risk­ing fur­ther da­m­age with a se­ries to be won when it re­sumes on Fri­day. “I’m fine,” he said af­ter­wards. Of course he is.

Eng­land will now con­tem­plate changes. The depth of their bowl­ing will be the dif­fer­ence be­tween these sides. They could ro­tate their en­tire front-line bowl­ing group and ar­guably im­prove the at­tack that played in this game, with the addition of more pace to un­leash at bats­men rat­tled by the bouncer.

To lose a day to rain and take 19 wick­ets in the re­main­ing time was a ter­rific ef­fort by Eng­land, ral­lied by Stokes and Stu­art Broad’s com­pet­i­tive in­stincts to prove a point.

Eng­land talked about “dan­gling a car­rot” on Sun­day night but there was no need to gam­ble on the dec­la­ra­tion thanks to Stokes. His 78 off 57 balls pro­pelled Eng­land to a 311run lead as they added 92 in 11 overs. It gave them 85 overs to take 10 wick­ets and in­cluded five overs with the sec­ond new ball if needed.

Broad ran in from the James An­der­son End and was spot on with lengths with the new ball, tak­ing three for 24 in a nine-over spell. Joe Root wanted Broad to aban­don his con­ser­vatism and sac­ri­fice a few runs to pen­e­trate with the new ball. Now wary of be­ing left out, Broad obliges. He shrugged off hav­ing his fourth ball driven through mid off by John Camp­bell to hit the same length next ball and take the edge.

An ab­so­lute peach from Chris Woakes re­moved the blocker Kraigg Brath­waite and, cru­cially,

Broad dragged back his length a frac­tion now he was bowl­ing to right-han­ders. He ploughed a patch out­side off stump which made the ball jag back. He tried point­ing it out to Stokes, but in­stead showed him the way by hit­ting it to bowl Shai Hope and pin Ros­ton Chase leg be­fore.

At 37 for four, West Indies looked frag­ile for the first time but they have back­bone, with two bats­men, Jer­maine Black­wood and Shamarh Brooks, old hands de­ter­minedly es­tab­lish­ing Test ca­reers.

Now the ball had soft­ened, Eng­land missed their pace­men. Brooks ham­mered Dom Bess around and it was clear Eng­land had to re­sort to the short ball.

Again, Stokes stepped up to fill Jofra Archer’s shoes. Bowl­ing around the wicket, hit­ting a short­ish length to aim the ball awk­wardly into the armpit and ribs, Stokes was test­ing the nerve. It is not a sit­u­a­tion West Indies’ do­mes­tic cricket serves up too much these days, so when play­ers move up to Test level they can be ex­posed. Black­wood, lead­ing run scorer in their do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion, was un­com­fort­able, un­able to sway or duck. He nearly popped a cou­ple of chances to short leg and Eng­land’s frus­tra­tion grew as the part­ner­ship reached 100.

Fac­ing Eng­land brings the best out of Black­wood and he re­sisted tak­ing on the short ball but even­tu­ally, four balls be­fore tea, with Stokes toil­ing away in his eighth over, he flapped at a rib tick­ler and But­tler took a good, div­ing leg-side catch.

Shane Dowrich had al­ready been found out by the short ball and was trapped on the crease for Woakes’s 100th Test wicket.

Eng­land were nervy as Brooks played nicely for his sec­ond fifty of the game and Jason Holder rode his luck. But two of Eng­land’s young crick­eters showed ad­mirable re­solve to come back from a ham­mer­ing. Sam Cur­ran had been ex­pen­sive but scut­tled through Brooks’s de­fence, and Bess re­cov­ered from be­ing slapped by Holder for four and six to spear one into the rough and hit the stumps through the gate. There was still time for Stokes to have a say, with Alzarri Joseph caught at point be­fore Bess fin­ished it off with a jug­gling catch at short leg by Ol­lie Pope.

The morn­ing had started with a clonk of leather on a plas­tic seat re­ver­ber­at­ing around the ground as Stokes hit Shan­non Gabriel’s fifth ball of the day for six in an open­ing over that brought 14 runs. For­get get­ting your eye in.

West Indies re­sorted to us­ing three re­views to waste time and Camp­bell dropped a sit­ter in the deep when Stokes was on 29 that cost them not just runs, but time, too.

Stokes lifted the tar­get be­yond 300, leav­ing only two re­sults re­al­is­ti­cally pos­si­ble. When he had the ball in hand, and the game was there to be won, Stokes later made sure only one re­sult was in­evitable.

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