LONDON: It’s hard to see where the next spark of inspiration is going to come from for Windies in Test cricket, especially after seeing them shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly on the third afternoon of the pink-ball Test against England. In a game in which they’ve been chasing shadows since the coin toss, the tourists went one worse with an abject batting performance that saw them slip to 145 for 8 in response to England’s first-innings total of 514/8 declared. Jermaine Blackwood’s counter-attacking half-century salvaged a little pride but a follow-on and a big defeat looms large unless Edgbaston turns benevolent in assisting a miracle.
James Anderson took two wickets to add to his late strike yesterday with Windies also offering him a simple run-out for his efforts in the first half-hour of the day’s play. The Lancashire pacer could barely conceal his bewildered smile as his teammates rushed to engulf him in hugs with increasing frequency. After his opening burst was done, Toby Roland-Jones picked up two middle-order wickets while Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad got into the act to complete a stunning seven-wicket session.
Anderson bowled four overs in the session before the sun peaked out of the dark Birmingham clouds, by when he’d crushed the spine of the tourist’s batting. After a false start – showers caused a brief delay after the first ball of the day – England’s record wicket-taker in Tests wasted little time in snuffing out Hope from the visitors’ camp. Kyle Hope could only tamely fend at a sharp bouncer and the ball nestled in Ben Stokes’s palms at gully.
Kieran Powell, the other overnight batsman, survived a close LBW shout off Stuart Broad’s first delivery, one that clearly muddled his thinking as evidenced by his attempt at stealing a non-existent single a few deliveries later. Anderson at mid-on took a couple of steps to the right and knocked down the stumps at the bowler’s end to send Powell on his way. Of course Anderson bowled well, his full length adding to his efficacy on a blustery morning, but there was an indefinable method about the way Windies imploded.
Roston Chase looked clueless in his 11-ball stay before draggin’ Anderson back on to his stumps as the visitors slipped to 47 for 4. Bowling changes were enforced at the end of the first spell, coinciding with the only period of Windies resistance. Blackwood hit Roland-Jones and Stokes for a flurry of boundaries to start a counter but just as a partnership began to develop, an overambitious Shai Hope played on to Roland-Jones. The Middlesex bowler then trapped Shane Dowrich plumb in front of his stumps to leave the visitors six down for 101. Moeen Ali was brought on late in the session but found drift to have Jason Holder caught behind, although the presence of an edge could only be ascertained in a DRS review. Broad castled Kemar Roach late before Lunch, soon after Blackwood had completed a 49-ball half-century. It’s a long way back for Windies, if they choose to make an effort.