Josh Da Silva maiden test century and Kyle Mayers 5 for 18 star
The stadium DJ was playing London Bridge is Falling Down as the last rites of England’s Caribbean humiliation were being administered by West Indies’ openers, Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell. 4.5 overs were all they needed to pick off the 28 runs needed for victory in the third Test in Grenada, and just 89 minutes of the fourth day’s play all told, as the Botham-Richards Trophy was captured with an elan to match the heyday of that pair’s rivalry.
Fittingly, it was Brathwaite who sealed the spoils with a flick through midwicket for two off Chris Woakes, as he finished a series of stunning personal resolve with an unbeaten 20 from 21 balls – a gleeful sprint for the finish at stark odds with the equivalent of eight marathons that he had run in compiling his 673 minutes of resistance in the drawn second Test at Barbados.
England had resumed the final day with even a miracle feeling a far-fetched option for salvation. They led by 10 runs overnight with just two wickets standing, although in keeping with the trend of the match, there were few demons for Woakes and Jack Leach to confront against the softer, older ball, which was already 53 overs old when play got underway.
West Indies resumed with their third-day wrecker, Kyle Mayers, at one end, and the quicker options of Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph alternating at the other, but Leach and Woakes watched the ball carefully and played within themselves to add 13 runs in a sedate first 40 minutes.
But then, Mayers made way for West Indies’ attack leader, Kemar Roach, and all he required was a solitary delivery to break the deadlock. The ball itself was a rank leg-sided long-hop, but Woakes’ firm flick flew rapidly to Jason Holder’s right at leg gully, who clung onto a one-handed blinder with the ball
almost behind his back.
At 116 for 9, Leach was joined by England’s last man – and first-innings top-scorer – Mahmood, with the team management hoping against hope that could at least replicate their first-innings stand of 90, without which West Indies would already be celebrating an innings victory.
This time, however, their partnership was almost ended after four balls, as Roach bent his back on the short ball, and Leach sliced inches short of point. Mahmood then got in a tangle twice in the same Joseph over, first with an appeal for caught-behind that flicked off his arm-guard, and then with a flapped pull off the eyebrows that looped over gully.
The hostility of the short-ball approach was at stark odds to the tame fare that England had served up when hunting the tenth West Indies wicket on the third morning, and with Leach pinned to his crease, Roach fired in the surprise fuller ball, to produce a thin edge through to the tumbling Da Silva. Once again, umpire Joel Wilson was unmoved, but West Indies were already celebrating before their review revealed a thin spike on UltraEdge.
Afterwards, England’s captain, Joe Root, was magnanimous in defeat as he sought out each of West Indies’ players for a handshake, but despite the growing sense that he has taken his team as far as he can carry it, he claims for the moment that he still relishes the challenge of leading the urgently required rebuild.
“Throughout this series we’ve played some really good cricket, and shown what we’re capable of as a group,” Root said. “We’ve grown over first two games as a batting group, we’ve shown big strides in that department.”
But as Brathwaite and his men held aloft the Richards-Botham Trophy, all such issues were secondary to the glory of a West Indies team that has once again rallied round. Their remarkable home run of success against England has now extended to three series wins and a draw since 2004, and one loss in 11 campaigns since 1968.
“We had a camp before the series began, and we said this is one of our best series at home, we’ve got to fight hard,” Brathwaite said. “It’s carried through in every game, someone else raising their hand and doing the job, whether’s it’s in the field, or with the ball or with the ball, spending time. The effort was remarkable.”