England have survived plenty of storms in the past but this storm brought from the legendary Christopher Henry Gayle was too powerful and blew away the English in a hammering 7 wicket win for the West Indies in the latest round of Global Test Championship fixtures in the inaugural season – coming into this game, both teams were winless!
In true GTC fashion, the opposition won the toss and inserted us into a surprisingly bouncy and sprightly Old Trafford pitch. England set their stall out early to be determined and defensive against the new ball which backfired when Burns (8) edged Alzarri Joseph to the keeper at 23-1. West Indies captain Jason Holder exploited the bounce dismissing his opposite captain Root (5) after bouncing out home born Lancashire opener Keaton Jennings for 25. GTC debutant Bairstow stood firm and rode out a tricky lively opening session from the West Indies quicks and spinners with reminiscence of the glory West Indies days with Courtney Walsh and Micheal Holding. Spin proved the downfall of promoted batsman Moeen Ali (5) and Jos Buttler (20) arriving at Lunch five down for the third successive match.
Boundaries were hard to come by for England but wicket keepers Foakes and Bairstow built a 66 run partnership to ease the pressure on the batsman in the shed and the increasingly frustrated supporters. Bairstow reached 50 despite scoring no boundaries which was the theme for the majority of batsmen in the game (bar a few) and Foakes was seemingly following his understudy to a half ton before oddly attempting a sweep to a pretty straight delivery. Surrey keeper Foakes scored 85 against the Proteas but since then has struggled for a consistency with the bat which has contributed to the occasional drop with the gloves. His spot is safe for the moment…
As regular wickets fell in the innings, England were indebted to a gritty Adil Rashid 20 as he hung around long enough prompting Bairstow to increase his scoring rate. After Rashid’s dismissal, leg spinner Bishoo wrapped up Broad and just had Jimmy Anderson to go. But, Anderson confidently blocked and left which allowed Bairstow to reach his three figures containing only four fours – Anderson was soon out but it was Bairstow’s innings which propelled England up to a respectable total after an accomplished display from the West Indies bowlers. – (England 253 Bairstow 103NO Foakes 43 ; Bishoo 3-41 Joseph 3-60)
West Indies started brightly taking advantage of the wayward lines provided by Broad and Anderson. Chris Gayle on his Test return began an onslaught of hitting, attacking each length and line. Our seamers couldn’t extract the same pace and bounce the Windies bowlers found and soon the tourists raced to a 100 partnership. Top English GTC wicket taker Moeen Ali removed Braithwaite (41) at the end of play with a smart catch by Foakes. Day 2 came and the momentum hadn’t changed as Gayle motored to his 150! 226 was the next wicket with Ali and Foakes combining to dismiss Mohammad (43).
Spin was proving to be more beneficial on a degrading pitch with leg spinner Adil Rashid pitching in with the wicket of dangerous Shai Hope (25) – Foakes with a blinder! Gayle remained at the crease despite all possible tactics from captain Root and the bowling attack which proved to be at no avail. Rashid picked up his second at 315-4, Hetmyer departing (20) before the moment all Caribbean fans had been wishing for…
A remarkable innings rightly deserved after showing an unusual side to his game with patience blended in with amazing ball striking to perplex the England side. Blackwood (5) was Ali’s third victim and soon followed Gayle falling for 217 from 277 balls to a googly from Rashid – a match winning knock. England had restored some pride in their game and had successfully brought the game at least back to some small credibility. Keeper Shane Dowrich played an attacking innings of 70 to lift the West Indies into a 238 run lead which saw Ali and Rashid take 4 wickets each. (West Indies 491 Gayle 217 Dowrich 70 ; Ali 4-99 Rashid 4-110)
Staring down the barrel of a crushing home defeat, Jennings fell to Joesph for just 2 poorly attempting the pull, summing up our lack of runs. Other incumbent opener Burns showed his first sign of form in the GTC after being well set on 41 but his solid defence was ripped apart from part time off break bowler Braithwaite. Braithwaite was soon jumping for joy and had West Indies in hot pursuit of a wicket win catching Root LBW on his first ball.
Jonny Bairstow backed up his maiden GTC hundred with 78 at a high scoring rate and was the only real positive from this English display. Still about 100 runs behind, England then slipped to 169-7 with Foakes (4) and Ali (1) falling to the successful short ball theory from Holder before Woakes’ (7) resistance was ended by Bishoo. Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid added valuable lower order runs to the England side with Buttler closing in on a maiden GTC century in a return to form. But…
Buttler’s fantastic innings was ended by seamer Joseph whose extra height and pace troubled Buttler and sent him back for an impressive 87. When Rashid departed for a solid 42 to double centurion Chris Gayle, England were looking at setting a 50 run lead at best.
Broad and Anderson rolled back the years with two swashbuckling knocks to add some pressure to the top order batsman of the tourists successfully upping the total to chase a much better, respected total of 158 and ending the English resistance at all out for 395. (England 395 Buttler 87 Bairstow 78 ; Joseph 3-67 Braithwaite 2-22)
For the third game in a row, our opponents were chasing a total under 200 to win but we had early hope when Woakes zipped one through to the “Universe Boss” which found the edge to Foakes. England continued to add pressure and checked the tourists progress with Burns superbly running out Braithwaite (35). A 95 run partnership effectively ruined England’s chances of pulling off a massive victory with catches going down in the slips and the outfield. Shai Hope was removed for 49 on the cusp of victory by Anderson but Roston Chase (52 not out) and Shimron Hetmyer (7 not out) guided the West Indies to a famous away victory and more importantly their first win of the championship.
Relatively new opening batsman Rory Burns has struggled to adapt to the pink ball in this championship so far scoring 99 runs @ 16.50 with a high score of 41. His form has improved since his opening matches and look composed in his 41 and was unfortunate to be dismissed. That innings may have boosted his chances of making the trip to Afghanistan where changes will need to be made to overturn this horrendous start. His batting partner Keaton Jennings place is also under question with 93 runs @ 15.50 with one fifty whilst batting order changes to our middle order will (hopefully) be the trick into scoring more runs especially in the first innings.
Congratulations to West Indies on a rightly deserved thumping 7 wicket win! England now head away to the undefeated Afghanistan side which posses centurions Ihsanullah and Ahmadi and spinning sensations Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test Championship Round 3 Review.
England need to get going in the Global Test Championship quickly in order to have any chance of finishing in a competitive spot aiming of course for the final. With the host’s pitch looking very conducive and beneficial to spin, the playing XI and squad of England will be no doubt intriguing and fascinating to see. An opportunity arises for our two main spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to continue their excellent wicket taking during the GTC. They could be accompanied by Somerset’s left arm spinner Jack Leach who comes into contention for a start alongside team mate Dom Bess and Hampshire spinner Mason Crane. Opening batsman Burns and Jennings will be sweating over their places with Joe Denly and Haseeb Hameed waiting in the wings but a recall for Sam Curran amongst others looks unlikely at this stage. Ben Stokes remains injured and will miss the following Trent Bridge encounter with the Australians but the focus shifts to England with the bid to score their first points of the Championship against the youthful and talent boasting Afghanistan squad.