As England departed for the stunning islands of the Caribbean back in early January, expectations arose that England would be victorious throughout all aspects of the series, including 3 tests, 5 ODI’s and 3 iT20’s. However, when England arrived, it was not as plain sailing as England fans had hoped, and the series didn’t unwind without a fair amount of excitement…
First up in the tour were the test series, where the biggest disappointed came for England as they lost the series 2-1 after losing the first two tests in a heavy fashion. The West Indies won the first test by 381 runs after England subsided to 77 all out in their first innings and Jason Holder replied with a sublime double hundred taking the game away from the tourists, alongside Roston Chase who took 8 wickets for 60 runs.
England, 1-0 down in the series, needed to win the last two remaining tests to win a series that they were anticipated to dominate. However, their chances of a series win were obliterated when the Windies thrashed them in the second test by 10 wickets. This was courtesy of the excellent bowling performance from Kemar Roach who he took 8 wickets in the game which he backed up with half a century in the first innings. England on the other hand, collapsed once again to 187 and 132 in an unfamiliar fashion. Put simply, the Windies blew England away. They showed an incredible amount of character and resistance, something England should have learned from as they went 2-0 down in the series. Hopes of an away test series win now lying in tatters.
England did manage to turn things around in the final test match as they came out victorious by a margin of 232 runs. The game would have given the England team a boost of confidence heading into a busy Ashes summer after some lacklustre performances at the start of the series. Joe Root, England captain, set the tone for the rest of the team as he scored 122 in England’s second innings to ensure the first win of the tour was their’s. The triumphant test also saw the return of fast bowler Mark Wood to the England team and he came back with style as he tore apart the West Indies batting line up, taking 5 wickets for 41 runs to put England in the driving seat. This test gave England a glimmer of positivity against a disappointing start to the tour which they hoped to turn around as they headed into the white ball segment of the tour.
50 Over Cricket:
It was the turn of 50 over cricket now in the Caribbean. It’s a format that England have thrived at all over the world and going into the series as strong favourites with a team full of world class talent. The tourists proved exactly why they are the favourites for the home World Cup, but not without a fightback from the West Indies who showed how close the top 8 teams in the world are as they managed to draw the series 2-2 with only 4 out of 5 games played as one was abandoned due to the weather.
The first ODI saw two centurions for England, with Jason Roy and Joe Root stepping up and providing a masterclass in batting, which was in reply to a century from the self-proclaimed ‘universe boss’, Chris Gayle, but England has the answers to his batting as they took control of the game and won by 6 wickets. The West Indies posted 360-8 in the first 50 overs, which England chased down with ease as Roy and Root guided England to 364-4 in 48 overs, putting them ahead in the series.
Unfortunately, the celebrations were short lived for England as the Windies came back hard. The hosts claimed a thrilling 26 run victory over the world class England side. Their fightback was set by Hetmyer who scored an unbeaten 104, and then supported by Cottrell who took 5-46 which England just couldn’t respond to, so the series was drawn level to 1-1. The third ODI was then rained off, which is something that you can always rely on in the Caribbean, it’s not all sunshine!
The ODI series resumed with a bang. Supporters saw a record breaking win for England who set a total of 418 for the hosts to chase. This was thanks to a destructive performance by Jos Buttler who hit the most sixes for an ODI hundred for England while England overall hit the most sixes in an ODI. Buttler scored 150; in just 15 balls he made his century after already making 51 runs, showing the talent and power he has. Although, the hosts replied with a century from Chris Gayle and their talented batsmen almost got them over the line. However, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid ensured England came out as the victors as the Windies reached 398 in 48 overs meaning England led 2-1.
In the final ODI, the West Indies proved why they deserve to be part of the upcoming World Cup and that this Cup could be an absolute thriller as the teams are incredibly close in talent as they drew the series 2-2 with a victory by 7 wickets as England did what they know best, and collapsed! They subsided to 113 which the Windies had no problems chasing, reaching the total in 12.1 overs, rounding off the 50 over format.
England then headed into the final leg of the tour: the T20 games. Here, they blew the West Indies out of the water, winning the series 3-0 to round off a thrilling, dramatic and educational tour for England. The two last matches were the most notable as the West Indies took a leaf out of England’s book and collapsed to 45 and then 71 with a special mention to Chris Jordan who bowled exceptionally throughout the series and made a serious case for a World Cup spot.
The series did not take place without some changes within the England camp regarding background staff. It was announced that after the conclusion of the Windies series that Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, would depart to become sporting director at Warwickshire. This will be a huge change for England before the start of a busy summer especially given that head coach Trevor Bayliss will also be leaving at the end of his contract in September. In addition, in the past few days it has been announced that Mark Ramprakash has been axed from the coaching staff as batting coach six months earlier than his contract stated. This is thought be a decision made by the new director of cricket for England, Ashley Giles. Graham Thorpe looks likely to take the reigns in terms of batting. It is no secret that England have had a vast array of struggles with their batting, although it might still be considered unfair on Ramprakash who had worked incredibly hard with many players who perhaps might have got the deserved opportunities.
Overall, the West Indies is a tour that never disappoints and this didn’t change in 2019. England took to the pitches under glorious sunshine, for the most part, but they didn’t get the results they wanted.
by Emily Marshall