The return of Joe Root and a relocation to Emirates Old Trafford. Hope was high that these major changes would help England towards victory in the second Test of the three-test series against the West Indies.
This match was pivotal because should the Windies have won the match, they would win the series. All eyes were on England to see if they could improve their game after their anticlimactic return to cricket in the first Test!
On the 15th July, England’s 13-man squad was named. Root was back in; Joe Denly was dropped; Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood were rested. Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes were back as well. It became clear that Jofra Archer had broken the biosecurity of the bubble, taking a 100-mile detour on his journey from Southampton to Manchester. Players were allowed to complete this journey separately despite the extensive regulations in place to ensure the safety and health of all involved with the Test, a decision many fans and commentators have taken issue with. Archer issued an apology and recognised he put people in danger, and was dropped from the team. Rain delayed play on the first day; the Windies won the toss and captain Jason Holder chose to field first.
The first innings finally got going, but England were off to a slow start. Between Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley, few runs were scored. Right before heading in for lunch, Burns went out on 15 with an lbw (b Roston Chase). After lunch, the first ball went to Zak Crawley, and he was out for a golden duck (c Holder b Chase). Everyone was looking for a bit of skipper magic with Root but unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what fans were hoping for, with him being dismissed on 23 (c Holder b Alzarri Joseph). Things started to brighten up as Sibley and Ben Stokes started a strong partnership that saw them dominate the crease through to tea and stumps, with a score of 207-3.
This partnership continued into Day 2, with the pair each achieving centuries. Occupying the crease through to lunch, Sibley was dismissed on 120 (c Kemar Roach b Chase). Ollie Pope was soon dismissed with an lbw on 7 runs (b Chase). Stokes and Jos Buttler occupied the crease for several overs before Stokes was dismissed on 176 (c Shane Dowrich b Roach). Woakes was immediately dismissed with a golden duck (c Shai Hope b Roach). Buttler was dismissed on 40 (c Joseph b Holder) quickly followed by Curran (c Kraigg Brathwaite b Chase), giving Chase a 5-wicket haul! Some brilliant play from Bess meant he hit two 4s and a 6. With a final score of 469, England declared.
The Windies stepped in with opening batsmen Brathwaite and John Campbell occupying the crease until Campbell got an lbw (b Curran). Joseph was sent in as the nightwatchman and the Windies finished the day on 32-1. Play was abandoned on Day 3 due to rain, meaning England had the chance to force a follow-on and take 19 wickets in the remaining two days.
A frustrating start for England on Day 4 with some missed catches; just as the Windies started to look stronger however, Joseph was dismissed and Pope redeemed himself with a great catch. Hope entered the field and managed 25 before he was dismissed (c Buttler b Curran) and Brathwaite went soon after, thanks to some Stokes-y magic. Just as the wicket take seemed to dry up for England, Broad finally got a wicket, dismissing Shamarh Brooks with an lbw. Broad went on to bowl out two more, Jermaine Blackwood and Dowrich, both for a duck. England were not taking any prisoners with the new ball. A change in fielding positions saw Root take a brilliant catch at slip off of a Woakes ball, dismissing Holder; the Windies had lost four for 18. Some brilliant batting work from Chase meant the Windies avoided the follow-on, however some equally brilliant bowling from Woakes dismissed both Chase and Gabriel, leaving the Windies all out. England started to bat for the last 45 minutes, sending out Buttler and Stokes to try and score some runs fast. This didn’t work out as expected, with Buttler out for a duck (b Roach) promptly followed by Crawley being dismissed on 11 (b Roach). Play ended with Stokes and Root on 16 and 8 respectively, making for a very tense last day of the Test.
Day 5 began and Stokes wasted no time scoring two 4s and a 6 in the first over. Root and Stokes continued to push the score up, taking every opportunity to score. Root sacrificed his wicket to keep Stokes in strike, which saw him dismissed on 22. Pope entered the field and joined Stokes in pushing the run score up. The pair pushed the lead up to 311 runs which set England up well, before Root declared and England got ready to bowl the Windies all out. A slow start for the Windies as Campbell was dismissed on the fifth ball of the first over after a late review was called from Root. Brathwaite and Hope held on for several overs before the former was dismissed with an lbw (b Woakes) and the latter was dismissed with 23 runs, leaving Brooks and Chase at the crease. After lunch, Chase was dismissed with an lbw (b Broad). This began a strong partnership between Brooks and Blackwood, who added 100 runs to the score before Blackwood was dismissed with 55 runs. This appeared to be a turning point in the game, later proven by Dowrich being dismissed for a duck in the next over with an lbw (b Woakes) and then a brilliant delivery from Curran dismissing Brooks with an lbw on 62 runs. After this dismissal, the wickets fell fast. Bess bowled Holder out on 35 runs before he caught Joseph out off of a Stokes ball. This left Roach and Gabriel and about 80 mins of play left. A brilliant delivery from Bess and what can only be described as a remarkable catch from Pope dismissed Roach and led England to victory.
Analysis: Brilliant game play from England earned them the win they needed and deserved!
This Test was pivotal for the series and was a match England needed to win. A strong batting performance in the first innings from England set them up well and with a day’s play abandoned due to bad weather, a win looked likely. However, the Windies weren’t prepared to give up and avoided the follow-on, making it an uphill battle for the Three Lions. A second innings of great batting—namely from Stokes who later won Player of the Match—in addition to great bowling and some superb catches allowed England to storm to victory; a win they rightly deserved. Team selection for the final match will be interesting as will the match itself, as both sides begin on a level playing field.
Result: England wins by 113 runs.
England: 469-9 declared & 129-3 declared
West Indies: 287 all out, 198 all out
Series level at 1-1