Dead men may tell no tales but the England cricket team managed to cling onto life with gasping breath, after victory in St Lucia. A series whitewash was saved, largely thanks to the returning Mark Wood and a return to form of Joe Root. Finally, application to playing in the test match style was practised, with Joe Denly, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes reaching half centuries. About time you may think. But is this win enough to save England from the murky depths of our series ratings? Pah, as if!
Based on the teams from St Lucia we start with our Caribbean hosts.
Kraigg Brathwaite: A proper test match opener. Apart from when the Windies required 15 to win, Brathwaite and Campbell reached a half century partnership every innings. Although would have been disappointed with a top score of 49. 6.5/10
John Campbell: Promising series for the debutant. Score of 44, 33, 47, 11*, 41 and 0. Launching Jimmy for six, one of the champagne moments of series. Inexperience showed in not converting any of his starts but would leap into the England side. (Although to be fair that ain’t saying much!) 7/10
Shai Hope: Unwanted achievement of losing his wicket to each of England’s pace attack. (Except Curran…) Majestic when in full flow at Barbados; hopeless in St Lucia. The new hope Windies were promised? Taking his time… 6/10
Darren Bravo: A triumphant return to test cricket for the younger Bravo was put on hold with single digit scores at Barbados. Yet the composed and concentrated 50 off 216 balls, was the foundation of their success in Antigua. Lasted longer at the crease than entirety of England’s batsmen. 7/10
Roston Chase: Over on talkSport, Darren Gough still can’t believe how Chase bagged 8-60 in the first test. Neither can most of England’s batsmen. Unlike them we possess a brain cell. This is what happens folks if you play DUMB SHOTS. A part time floater gets better figures than Shane Warne! For that you would presume Chase receives high marks but as a batter he has been woeful… Bowling: 9/10 Batting: 1/10 Overall: 5/10
Shimron Hetmyer: This guy looked so cool batting with a sun hat in his 81 at Barbados, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking it was Sir Viv at the crease. By Antigua it became clear it definitely wasn’t… 6/10
Shane Dowrich: Demonstrated attacking quality with 116* in a 295 run partnership alongside Jason Holder in first test. Tidy behind stumps with one astonishing catch. 7/10
Keemo Paul: Dismissed Burns and Jennings in only test. *Shrugs shoulders* So could anyone! 1/10
Kemar Roach: One five-for and three four-for’s means Kemar has been the pick of the fast bowlers. Devastatingly accurate and created a chaotic atmosphere as England collapsed for 77 in first innings at Barbados; set up the series. Happy tearing through top order and snaffling up the tail. Underrated bowler but has shown true quality in this series. 9/10
Alzarri Joseph: Incredible mental strength to play on the day his mother passed away. Delivered a spell of devastating fast bowling and a brilliant backup to Roach, Gabriel and Holder. Has the potential to grow into a dynamic pace bowler, reminiscent of Roberts and Garner. 7.5/10
Shannon Gabriel: Always willing to charge in and bowl his heart out. However, not quite found his 2018 rhythm and particularly expensive in England’s second innings at St Lucia. Unable to hide his frustrations and crossed the line with a homophobic slur in sledging Root. Won’t be the last we hear of this. 6/10
Jason Holder: Oh captain, my captain! A true definition of the ‘all-rounder.’ Commanding double century in the first test where he annihilated England’s bowling with 23 fours and 8 sixes. Accurate pace bowling in second with 4-45, as beautifully bowled out England. Colossal leader who is shaping this West Indies side with exceptional leadership skills. Only dampener, an inability to quicken up the over rates, but still his side won inside three days! 9/10
⚡ WINDIES WIN SERIES ⚡
After being 32-0, the visitors collapse, as only England can to 132 all out… ?
— Howzat For A Laugh?! (@HowzatForALaugh) February 2, 2019
England players we suggest you look away now…
Rory Burns: Scorched briefly in his 84 as Chase caused havoc around him, yet despite this hasn’t massively impressed. You would think county cricket’s leading run scorer over the past four seasons would surely be the opener England have been searching for. It appears not! Will be given at least the first two Ashes tests… mainly because there’s fuck all else. 6/10
Keaton Jennings: Do you fear death, Keaton Jennings? Apparently that’s not all he fears, you can add footwork, pace bowling, straight bat, timing and concentration into his Room 101. In 17 tests Keaton averages 15 against fast bowling. But hey, he’s such a great guy! All the evidence he’s shite at batting vanishes when you put it up against his beaming smile and top level banter. Likeability: 10/10 Actual batting ability: 2/10
Joe Denly: The latest fresh face to open the batting for England managed scores of 6 and 17 at Antigua, leading to the possible conclusion test cricket may have passed Denly by. And yet at St Lucia a miracle occurred… a number three batsman reached a half century! You can forget Ian Bell, Joe Denly is the rock England have been scrambling for. Calm, collected and confident. Plus don’t forget Ed Smith personally selected him for this tour. And Smith knows how to pick good apples. 6.9/10
Joe Root: Only 55 runs coming into the final test meant this promised to be a series to forget for Rooty. Yet finally he demonstrated permanent class, with a tremendous 122. Taking the game away from West Indies there was a genuine sense of relief as Joe reached the fabled three figures.
On the captaining front his selection to include Rashid at Barbados was misguided. Prior to the series a 2-1 loss against one of the lowest ranked sides in test cricket would have been disastrous but credit must go to the West Indies who exploited the home conditions brilliantly. However this ‘bold approach’ nonsense must be reined in. Captaincy: 6/10 Batting: 7/10
Jos Buttler: Two half centuries in the final test salvages Buttler’s series. Can’t blame him for attacking intent, as a collapsing top order means he bats far too early. You can blame him for a couple of horrendous drops though. 6/10
Ben Stokes: Another batsman who only bubbled into life during the third test. Perhaps suffered from being too defensive at times; his 17 ball duck at Barbados was excruciating. With cherry in hand a trooper; sent down 25 overs one innings and 27 in another. 6.5/10
Jonny Bairstow: Spent two unhappy tests at number three… before promptly scoring 2 in his return down the order! A valiant 52 in England’s 187 at Antigua was only bright spark, that and being given his precious gloves back. Honestly he’s like Gollum with the ring! Worryingly has been bowled 10 out of his last 20 dismissals, with two glaring miss drives down the ground in the second test. Three is clearly not his position. But can he keep off the challenge of Ben Foakes? Gollum audition: 10/10 Cricket audition: 5.5/10
Moeen Ali: Whatever Moeen has put in Adil Rashid’s soup it has clearly worked wonders, as there is absolutely no contest who is England’s number one spinner. Mo was back to his flighted tricks with 4-36 in St Lucia. But a huge worry with bat in hand. Bagged a pair at Barbados followed by scores of 60, 4 and 13. Hasn’t scored a century since Brexit negotiations began. Position surely under threat for The Ashes. 4/10
Mark Wood: Yeehaw! Finally a PROPER fast bowler in foreign conditions, Woody was terrific in his first cap for over a year. Figures of 5-41 as he cranked the speedometer up to 95 mph and registered the second fastest bowling spell from an England bowler since 2004. Keeping him fit an absolute priority, as the attack has a potency no other bowler can bring. Reach for the sky you Aussie bandits… 10/10
Stuart Broad: Unlucky to be dropped at a ground where his height would have caused damage to the Windies batting. Unaffected and ran in hard with 3-53 in second test. 6/10
Jimmy Anderson: Our go to paper shredder expert, ripped through the Windies with his 27th five wicket haul at Barbados. Happy to feature on a rival podcast, despite having lost the series at the time, yet hasn’t answered our DM… poor form. 1.5/10
Ben Foakes: Crickets David Gandy was extremely unlucky to be dropped for the final test, simply because Gollum harbours the gloves. A top score of 35 may not have been amazing but behind the stumps he is undoubtedly the best keeper England possess. However let’s hope his test career does not end here… 6.5/10
Sam Curran: Managed only one wicket, conceding a whopping 161 runs over the first two tests. Bizarrely though not the one to blame, as poor selection by Bayliss and Root ensure he was on a hiding to nothing. Sensational in England, yet too slow for foreign climes. 3/10
Adil Rashid: Marks for getting a free holiday to one of the most beautiful places on earth? 10/10 Marks for playing cricket? 0/10
Despite the score line suggesting a close series, England have been utterly outplayed in two of the tests by a resurgent West Indies side. The visitors lack batting discipline, common sense and a fighting spirit, for whenever one wicket falls, a collapse immediately follows. Ed Smith must now scour the county grounds once the season begins for an opener. Otherwise the Aussies will be licking their lips…
We back a young man by the name of Marcus Trescothick!