By Brandon Corlette
West Indies supporters will describe the Test team’s performance in 2018 as ordinary; having played four Test series, nine Test matches and registering only one series win. Shane Dowrich finished 2018 as the leading Test batsman for West Indies, scoring 474 runs at an average of 36.46, inclusive of one century and three half-centuries. Roston Chase (396); Kraigg Brathwaite (391); Kieran Powell (391); Shimron Hetmyer (376) and Shai Hope (344) were the other top Test batsmen during 2018.
The bowling chart saw Shannon Gabriel leading the way with 37 wickets in 2018, inclusive of three five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket match haul. It was Jason Holder’s breakthrough year as a bowler, grabbing 33 wickets inclusive of four five-wicket hauls. Kemar Roach (19); Devendra Bishoo (15) and Roston Chase (11) were among the wickets in West Indies’ 2018 Test season.
The West Indies played their first Test match in 2018 June 6-10 at Port of Spain, Trinidad, against the touring Sri Lankans. It was Shane Dowrich’s Test match, as he registered a masterful century in a player-of-the-match performance.
West Indies went on to win the first Test match comprehensively, registering a 226-run win. Captain Holder won the toss and batted first as the Caribbean team racked up 414-8 declared on the back of wicketkeeper-batsman Dowrich unbeaten on 125. Sri Lanka, in reply, were sent packing for 185 with the fast bowlers showing a glimpse of greatness, sharing eight wickets among themselves. In the second innings, West Indies declared on 223-7 setting a target of 453 for Sri Lanka to register an unlikely win. Eventually, Sri Lanka fell short as they were bowled out for 226.
The second Test match of that series was a hard fought draw, but Gabriel made it his own. He grabbed 13 wickets in the match – a first innings haul of 5-59 and a second innings haul of 8-62. A record-breaking spell that put Gabriel in an elite group of fast bowlers was not enough for West Indies to register a victory and wrap up the three-match Test series. Dowrich was once more among the runs as he backed up his century with a solid half-century. The Sri Lankans set a target of 296 for Windies, but the Caribbean men finished on 147-5 with Kraigg Brathwaite scoring 59*.
In the series decider in Bridgetown, Barbados, Sri Lanka won the Test by four wickets to level the series. Holder was outstanding, capturing nine wickets in the Test – 4-19 and 5-41. He was deservingly awarded the player of the match, but the Pereras from Sri Lanka played defiant knocks as Sri Lanka recorded a historical Test win in the Caribbean. In addition to Holder’s nine-wicket match haul, he scored 74 along with the in-form Dowrich who scored 71, in a 115-run partnership.
After a drawn Test series against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh played the West Indies in a two-match Test series. The confident Windies team whitewashed the lower ranked opposition 2-0 in the Test matches played in Antigua and Jamaica. In the first Test match, the Caribbean team registered a resounding win against Bangladesh by an innings and 219 runs. Bangladesh were inserted to bat and were bowled out for 43; Player of the Match Kemar Roach grabbed 5-8 in the first innings. The West Indies batsmen then raced away to 406 on the back of Kraigg Braithwaite’s 121 and half-centuries from Shai Hope and Devon Smith. The game was easily heading in Windies’ direction; Bangladesh were bowled out for 144 with the lightning-quick Gabriel snaring 5-77, as the fast bowlers shared all 10 wickets among themselves.
West Indies were presented the opportunity to win a rare Test series in the second and final Test match against Bangladesh at Kingston, Jamaica. It was the better of the two possible outcomes for the West Indies, winning the Test by 166 runs and wrapping up the series. Their courageous captain was the Player of the Match, picking up 11 wickets. Holder bowled with control, grabbing 5-44 and 6-59 in the resounding victory. Kraigg Brathwaite was the best batsman scoring 110 as the Test match was completed in three days.
After the brighter days, then came the darker days for the West Indies Test team. It was the worst possible outcomes for the touring West Indies team to India. India humbled the West Indies by an innings and 272 runs. The dominant India scored 649-9 declared as West Indies were bowled out for 181 and 196. In the second and final Test match played in Hyderabad, India thumped the West Indies by 10 wickets. Roston Chase scored 106 as Windies scored 311; Holder continued his brilliant year in Tests snaring another five-wicket haul. For the second time around, Umesh Yadav completed his first 10-wicket haul in Tests after Windies set India a slim target of 72 for victory. KL Rahul and young Prithvi Shaw ended Windies’ misery in their winless Test series in India.
Then came the two-match Test tour to Bangladesh; West Indies continued downhill as they succumbed to Bangladesh 2-0. In what was the perfect revenge plot for Bangladesh after they lost to Windies in the Caribbean, the Jason Holder-less team lost by 64 runs. Bangladesh rode on Player of the Match Mominul Haque’s hundred as they posted 324 all out. Jomel Warrican and Gabriel were the pick of the bowlers grabbing four wickets each. However, the Caribbean team failed to chase 204 for victory as Bangladesh took the lead in the first Test.
It was a bigger defeat for West Indies in the second and final Test; Bangladesh posted 508 and bowled West Indies out twice for 111 and 213. The rare shining light from the application-less West Indies batting group was the aggressive Shimron Hetmyer who blazed nine sixes in a 92-ball 93.
Having played nine Test matches in 2018 and winning only three of those matches, West Indies will be aiming to perform better in the 2019 Test matches. The number eight-ranked West Indies team will play the number two-ranked England in a three-match Test series in January 2019.