Ben in full attack mode was simply too hot for the tourists to handle
Well played England, for giving us some excellent cricket – and you cannot do better than winning in four days.
At the start of the day, the West Indies fielders spread out and patrolled the outfield. It was very difficult for England to score boundaries. You needed power and physical strength to bludgeon the bowlers. Ben Stokes was the main reason that England were able to declare with 85 overs still left in the day, hitting 78 not out off just 57 balls.
Ben has the ability to be a technical batsman and a hitter, depending on the situation. When he is intent on hitting, he has a threatening presence that must affect the bowlers when they are running in.
They are bound to be conscious that, if they do not get their delivery right, the ball is going to get an almighty whack. And they know Stokes has the strength and timing to make the ball go a long way. If you are an England supporter, it is fun watching.
When England were bowling and got stuck with the old ball, it was Stokes who decided to attack the batsmen from around the wicket with short balls. Bowling bumper after bumper, banging the ball into the pitch to get lift, takes a lot out of a bowler. And it is quite obvious that intimidating line of attack has caused the West Indians a great deal of difficulty. In the third Test, they are going to get some more, too.
As a batsman, you do not experience it much in domestic cricket, as most bowlers do not have the pace, aggression and fitness to upset you. Ben has slippy pace, is very fit and you can see he loves to be competitively aggressive, whether he is batting or bowling. It is in his nature – and that helps him make things happen.
I am so pleased Stuart Broad bowled brilliantly, because I was amazed he was left out of the first Test. His three early wickets yesterday gave England a wonderful start and put the skids under West Indies.
In the first innings, when England were struggling to try to make West Indies follow on, he was the one who took the second new ball after tea and produced one of his magical mini-spells of three wickets for no runs, sending back Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood and Shane Dowrich in the blink of an eye. That just gave England a chance to make West Indies follow on.
When Jimmy Anderson is left out of the England side, a lot of people shout from the rooftops how you should never leave him out of an England team. Yet when Broad got left out in Southampton, there were only a few of us saying that it was a bad decision. It is as if Jimmy is untouchable, with nearly 600 wickets at an average of 26.9, but Stuart, with nearly 500 wickets at 28.4, is not.
Stuart has been, and still is, a seriously top-class bowler. Throughout his England career, he has produced a number of magic spells, match-winning performances, been injured very little, bowls with aggression and intensity and I do not care who you are or what you bowl – you have to be really good to be selected for 139 Tests and collect nearly 500 wickets.
It always seems that Stuart has had to bowl in Jimmy’s shadow, which is not fair. It is time he got credit for being a superb bowler in his own right.
Many forget that Stuart is nearly four years younger than Jimmy. If he gets selected in the next four years, he may achieve as many wickets, if not more. Also, when England go to Australia in a year and a half, there is more chance of Stuart being fit and available than Jimmy. People, particularly our selectors, should recognise he is a fantastic performer.
Broad bowled brilliantly and I am so pleased as I was amazed he was left out of the first Test
Job done: England players celebrate after Ollie Pope took the winning catch yesterday