West Indies needed just over an hour to complete a crushing 10-wicket victory over England in the decisive third and final Test on the fourth morning at the Grenada National Stadium on Sunday.
Senior pacer Kemar Roach claimed the last two wickets of the tourists’ second innings to dismiss them for 120 after resuming at the overnight position of 103 for eight.
Needing just 28 runs for victory, openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell knocked off the runs in fewer than five overs with Brathwaite, the West Indies captain who was also named man of the series for his tally of 341 runs across the three matches, fittingly getting the winning runs off the bowling of Chris Woakes.
This result earned the West Indies a 1-0 series victory following tedious draws in the first two matches in Antigua and Barbados.
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England’s record of futility in Test series in the Caribbean has now been extended as they have won just one series – 2004 under the leadership of Michael Vaughan – in the 54 years since Colin Cowdrey’s team prevailed 1-0 in five Tests against a home side led by Gary Sobers in 1968.
Inevitably the spotlight fell on England captain Joe Root after this humiliating defeat for his team which followed a crushing Ashes loss in Australia.
“I think I’ve made it quite clear about how passionately I feel about this team,” he said at the end of the match.
“I feel I have the support of the guys behind me to take the team forward and that’s not changed. That’s not changed at all.”
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Root did elaborate though on the disappointment of his team’s performance in this critical fixture on a surface which was very different from the placid pitches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and Kensington Oval.
“Yesterday was really a frustrating day, such an important day in the series and we just didn’t manage it as well as we could have and as we showed in the first two matches,” he explained.
“After a difficult winter it’s frustrating after believing that we were making some strides forward.
“I just don’t think we read the surface as well as we should have individually,” Root added in dealing with England’s double batting failure at this venue.
“We have made some strides but there’s still a lot of learning that needs to be done. It’s not going to happen overnight and we are going to have to keep working hard.”
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In assessing his team’s ability to once again turn back an England challenge on home soil, Brathwaite acknowledged that appreciating West Indies’ excellent home record against these opponents was important in the preparation for the series.
“At the camp ahead of this series we recognised that this has always been one of our best series at home and we had to fight hard to maintain that record. We put in a lot of work to get ready for this,” he asserted.
“There are a lot of guys in our team whom you can see are willing to learn and when you have seniors like Kemar Roach and Jason Holder continuously leading the way they are great examples to follow,” Brathwaite continued.
“Yesterday was really a remarkable day for us and to show the fight from the start, and the attitude even at the warm-up before play on the third day, it is key to carry that forward and just keep building. We can’t take anything for granted.”
It was Woakes who carried England’s faint hope of any sort of meaningful resistance into the fourth day in partnership with Jack Leach.
They were able to resist the opening burst from the innings destroyer Kyle Mayers and Jayden Seales with Mayers unable to reproduce the devastating wicket-taking ability which saw him claim five wickets on the third day and seven in the match to turn the match decisively the home side’s way.
However Roach struck as soon as he was brought into the attack, a clear plan of targeting Woakes on the line of the body paying off via a brilliant catch at leg-slip by Jason Holder.
Last man Saqib Mahmood joined Jack Leach but there was to be no repeat of their first innings heroics when they put on 90 for the last wicket.
Leach fell in Roach’s next over with man of the match Joshua da Silva justified in demanding a review of the not out verdict to an appeal for a wicketkeeper’s catch.