September 23, 2020

Cricket: West Indies lose again to England


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England’s nine-wicket win at Trent Bridge gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series

Marlon Samuels added a defiant 76 not out to his first-innings century as West Indies limped from overnight 61-6 to 165 all out, setting England a slender target of 108.

But under more Nottingham sunshine the England opening pair of Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook first saw off the new ball and then prospered under little pressure from a dispirited opposition.

Strauss perished for 45 with just 19 needed but Cook, who finished 43 not out, and Jonathan Trott eased England home, the winning runs coming half an hour after tea when Trott tickled Samuels fine for four.

The four-day win, allied to the five-wicket victory at Lord’s a week ago, means England go to Edgbaston next week with an unassailable lead in the three-match rubber.

It is England’s seventh series win on the bounce at home, and their sixth in seven against West Indies.

For the chastened tourists it extends their series winless streak in this country to 24 years, and means they have won just one of their last 25 Tests against England.

Samuels was the lone obstruction to England’s seemingly inevitable progress once he had lost overnight partner Darren Sammy for 25, to Tim Bresnan’s fourth lbw of the innings.

Kemar Roach went in the same fashion to James Anderson before Samuels launched a late assault on the England bowling.

Graeme Swann had Shane Shillingford caught by Anderson at slip for a 22-ball duck but was then smashed for two mighty straight sixes by the phlegmatic Samuels.

Ravi Rampaul edged to third slip to end the fun and leave Samuels with an aggregate score in the match of 193.

Roach again found real pace in his opening spell as England began their pursuit.

But, with the pitch remaining as true as it had been on the first three days, Strauss and Cook chipped away at the modest target in unhurried fashion.

In doing so they became the third most prolific opening pair in Test history after Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, and Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

Strauss was clearly irritated to push a gentle loosener from Samuels down Darren Bravo’s throat at cover, but he has still been England’s best batsman in the series.

The match had been won and lost late on Sunday when Bresnan’s spell of 3-10 blew the West Indies’ fragile top order apart.

Bresnan finished with 4-37, and there was at last reward for Anderson’s excellence with 4-43 from 20 overs.

Sterner tests will come later this summer with the arrival of South Africa and their much-vaunted pace attack.

For now, Strauss and England are successfully putting their difficult winter behind them, their number one world ranking secure for at least another three months.

“West Indies played some really good cricket but thankfully we were able to show a little bit more consistency and I’m delighted to have won the series,” Strauss said.

“There were positions at Lord’s where we could have gone really big in our first innings but weren’t able to do that, and the same again here.

“But you’ve got to give them credit for that – they came back into the game. There are always two sides playing the game.

“Having not taken as big a lead as we would have liked, I think our bowlers did an excellent job to have them 61-6 and that put us in a really strong position to go and win it today.”

Strauss has enjoyed a successful series with the bat, ending a run of 18 months without a Test century in the five-wicket win at Lord’s and scoring a match-shaping 141 in the first innings at Trent Bridge.

“I’m delighted to be back in the runs – it’s a lot easier when you feel in form, that is for sure,” he said. “I had to earn the right to get back into form at Lord’s.

“You kind of ride on the crest of a wave for a bit when you have got a hundred or two. The key for me now is to make sure that wave lasts for a long time.”

Tim Bresnan, named man of the match for his eight wickets in the game and unbeaten 39 in England’s first innings, has now been on the winning side in each of his first 13 Tests.

“It’s quite difficult at times when you’ve got a soft ball and a flat pitch but that’s when you’ve got to step up and do it,” he said.

“Consistency is my major weapon and to keep banging in that length. I’m a lot thinner now too. You don’t get through 100 overs in two weeks without being reasonably fit.”

Strauss said: “You’re always going to get something from him. There’s no surprise that we’ve won when he has played because he is always contributing one way or another.”

West Indies captain Darren Sammy, whose maiden Test hundred in the first innings proved in vain, said: “Once again we failed to put a good score in two innings.

“We did well to recover in the first innings but it was asking too much to do it again.

“We’ve been lacking top-order runs for a while and it has set us back, but credit to the way we have fought and managed to stay in the game.”

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