The Report by Andrew McGlashan
West Indies 427 and 5 for 0 (Brathwaite 4*, Powell 1*) need 317 more runs to beat England 258 and 490 for 8 dec (Moeen 84, Root 72, Woakes 61*, Malan 61, Stokes 58, Stoneman 52, Chase 3-86)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It took until the final session of the fourth day, but this absorbing Test took a decisive swing as England’s prolific lower order carried the lead away from West Indies. Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes sped to a 117-run stand for the eighth wicket, to build on the work of Joe Root, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes to tire out a three-man pace attack. Such was England’s surge that they were able to declare to leave a target of 322.
Stokes and Malan, with contrasting half-centuries, had pushed England ahead with a stand of 91 but three wickets in 22 balls for Roston Chase opened the door. When Jonny Bairstow dragged on an ugly-looking reverse sweep, the lead was 158. By the time Moeen found long-on, just 23 overs later, it was approaching 300. And still there was no stopping England. Woakes eased to a 99-ball fifty and in a sign of the collective effort, England’s total was their highest without a century.
On only four occasions have England overturned a bigger deficit than 169. One of them, famously, came at Headingley in 1981 when, incidentally, the stand that turned the match was worth 117 between Ian Botham and Graham Dilley. The partnership between Moeen and Woakes won’t go down in cricket folklore in quite the same way, but victory for England would be a remarkable turnaround even if the romantics (and those not associated with the England team) would probably have preferred the remarkable story of a West Indies victory.
Their openers negotiated six overs before the close, but to chase down this target would be the most extraordinary twist of the lot. Only Bradman’s Invincibles have chased a bigger target on this ground, although perhaps England’s own pursuit of 315 against Australia in 2001, scored almost entirely on the final day against a fine attack, offers a glimmer of hope. There were signs, however, in a testing last over of spin and bite that Moeen will be able to have a big say with ball after his batting heroics.
Having been on top, or at worst even, for much of the first three days West Indies couldn’t sustain themselves long enough to make the final decisive inroads into England’s batting. When they emerged after tea the lead was still under 200, but a filthy over from Kraigg Brathwaite (whose action was reported after the first Test) set the tone for a period of play in which control was completely lost against Moeen at his counter-attacking best.
When it needed one more big push from Shannon Gabriel, he hit the wall. He and Kemar Roach, who also wasted the second new ball, had bowled for most of the first hour amid West Indies’ early push for wickets, and when he returned after tea, Gabriel’s first two overs went for 28.
The list of self-inflicted problems also grew. Devendra Bishoo, who had bowled just two of the first 70 overs in the innings, had Moeen caught behind off a no-ball on 32. It was an excruciatingly close call from S Ravi, with no recourse to check, in a match where plenty of no-balls have been missed but there was no reason for Bishoo to be so close to the line. Earlier in the day, Malan was dropped at slip on 29, one over after Root had departed, caught at the second attempt by Shai Hope in the gully. It could have been a crucial double breakthrough, but instead it was a reminder of Root’s own let-off, 62 runs earlier on the third day, when Shai’s brother, Kyle, had been the culprit.
Malan’s innings was the least eye-catching of the day – he added 40 off 121 balls to his overnight score – and his tendency to drive away from the body should have brought his downfall, but Kieran Powell was put off at first slip when Shane Dowrich dived across him. Had it been taken, England would have been five down with a lead of 44. But he played an important part in forging England’s position and in a batting line-up that doesn’t lack for stroke-makers, the ability to soak up deliveries is valuable. The innings has probably booked him an Ashes tour.
However, the shot that brought his dismissal should not escape some criticism, particularly as England’s lead had yet to get out of sight. Credit is due to the bowler, Chase, who got the ball to grip a touch out of the rough but picking out a man on the fence first ball after a break is not a good look.
There was less blame attached to Malan’s dismissal. Earlier in the over, Chase had got a ball to jump from the rough and almost lob to point – something that will interest Moeen with ball in hand – and he was caught on the crease when a delivery straightened to take off stump. Bairstow was quickly out of the blocks with four boundaries, but then tried to reverse sweep Chase out of the rough and dragged on. England were far from safe, yet by the end of the day they were the only side with a realistic chance of victory. (ESPNCricinfo)