Jason Holder's West Indies won a series against England for the first time in 10 years as they won the Antigua Test. (Image credit: ICC Twitter)
West Indies have been suffering a terminal decline in their Test cricketing fortunes ever since losing at home against Australia in 1995 which saw the end of their domination after 15 years. Since then, there have been plenty of downs and few ups for the Windies. Player disputes with the Board, the decline in the game’s popularity and continued poor results meant a bleak future for the West Indies. However, in the second Test at Antigua against England, all the gloom was erased by Jason Holder’s team as they defeated England by 10 wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after winning the first match in Barbados by 381 runs.
If the Barbados Test was tagged as a one-off occasion, the result in Antigua came as Holder’s side played like a total unit on a pitch which demanded plenty of application from the batsmen while the bowlers ran riot. England was already on the back foot having been dismissed for 187 in the first innings, with only Jonny Bairstow (52) and Moeen Ali (60) showing some fight. In response, West Indies withstood some fierce bowling from James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes as they chipped away. Darren Bravo scored 50 and he was aided from knocks of 49 from Kraigg Brathwaite, 47 from John Campbell and 44 from Shai Hope. Shane Dowrich (31) and Jason Holder (22) ensured West Indies had taken a 119-run lead on a pitch favoring the bowlers.
In the second innings, the duo of Kemar Roach and Holder decimated the England batting again. Roach, who had taken 4/30 in the first innings, once again was the chief destroyer as he picked up 4/52 and Holder picked up 4/43. Alzarri Joseph, who had lost his mother on the third day of the Test, showed his grit and strength to take the key wickets of Joe Root and Joe Denly as England were bowled out for 132. West Indies chased down 12 runs without losing a wicket as West Indies won the match to set off joyous celebrations in Antigua.
The win was West Indies’ first in 10 years against England, having won in 2009 after Jerome Taylor’s haul of 5/11 helped them bowl England out for 51 in the Jamaica Test. West Indies held on for four tense draws as they won the five-match series 1-0. In 2015, West Indies had held England to a 1-1 draw while in the 2017 series, they won a match in England after a gap of 17 years.
Holder, the skipper, spoke of the need for honesty after being whitewashed 0-2 in India in 2018. “After the Bangladesh tour there was a hard talk in the dressing room, and we needed some honesty. It's been an up-and-down journey, for me personally, and for the team, but one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I wouldn't be here without my teammates, so they deserve all the credit,” Holder said. On the other hand, Root rued yet another collapse for England.
“Scoring under 200 in both innings, it's not going to win you many games. The toss could have made a difference, I would have bowled, but the Windies won the toss and made full use of it, and we didn't do too well,” Root said.
With West Indies eliminating a 10-year pain, Holder’s side is on the cusp of a 3-0 whitewash against England, something they have not achieved against England. West Indies, at their peak, achieved back-to-back 5-0 whitewashes against England in the 80s.