Normally, a side would be satisfied if they achieve a 1-1 scoreline against their opponents in a three-match Test series. But, the same cannot be said about England’s performance against West Indies in the just concluded Test series. England, till a couple of years back, were the number one Test side in the world. And though they have slid significantly since, the Englishmen were favourites to win against West Indies. The fact that they ended up leveling the series 1-1 after having taken the lead can be seen as a moral victory for the hosts.
In the wake of the World Cup debacle, England needed to impress in the Test arena to win some fans back. A triumph against the lowly-placed West Indies wouldn’t have made their supporters jubilant, but it would definitely have given them something to cheer about. A 1-1 scoreline was certainly not what the English fans wanted. The visitors had their moments during the course of the series. They could have won the opening Test, but were stonewalled by Jason Holder. After an impressive turnaround at Grenada, however, they were extremely poor at Barbados.
The fact that the Test ended in three days was indicative of how badly England batted. Skipper Alastair Cook made a much-awaited 26th Test hundred, but the others should have done better in the match. Joe Root and Gary Ballance were the top two run-getters in the series, but they disappointed in the final Test, and that proved to be a major hindrance in England’s progress in the game. The struggles of Jonathan Trott made matters worse for the team. Although he got a fifty during an earlier game, he never looked in any sort of rhythm, and may have run his international race.
Inconsistency, proved to be the bane of England in the series. Ian Bell got a hundred early in the series, but his pair at Barbados put the team under extreme pressure. Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes also wasted precious opportunities to make a statement. Even the win registered at Grenada was thanks to one sensational bowling effort from James Anderson. If one takes Anderson’s spell in the game out, both West Indies and England were well-matched during the course of the Test. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Englishmen never dominated the series.
Rather ironically, although the top run-getter as well as the leading wicket-taker were from England, they still did not end up winning the series. The key reason behind the same was because, as a team, they did not put up a good enough collective effort. While Root failed to get much support in the batting department, Anderson too was a single-handed success in the bowling. Stuart Broad got 10 wickets, but wasn’t greatly effective, and his batting was disastrous. The West Indies series was being looked at as a chance for England to start afresh, but it has undoubtedly turned out to be an opportunity lost.
--By A Cricket Analyst