Day four was all England. First came the accumulation of runs, Gary Ballance hit a century and shared a century stand with Joe Root who hit his second fifty of the match. Ben Stokes selflessly hit quick runs then Joss Buttler came in with a great platform to do what he does best finishing on 59*.
England declared with a lead of over 430. West Indies second innings got off to a shocker with Brathwaite bounced out by Broad but the second wicket partnership showed this game would not be a formality. At close WI were 98-2, England would require 8 wickets to win while West Indies needed to survive for three sessions.
Day five saw a great rear-guard action by WI. The young Jason Holder showed what a talent he is by saving the game with a maiden first class century. Smith and Ramdin also passed fifty and Kemar Roach done really well for a number nine to survive 55 balls. There were times during the day when an England win looked likely but WI hung in there.
The big headline was made by the great James Anderson who overhauled Botham’s long held record for test wickets by an Englishman. It was a pleasure to watch that moment on TV and Jimmy is a truly great player, although arguably passed his best? Whatever, he’s been an ever present throughout a pretty good decade of English cricket.
There will be some who will criticise England for not winning this match and perhaps if we had someone with express pace or a world class spinner the wickets would have fallen. But credit must be given to the West Indies who were outplayed in this match but never folded. It was always going to be hard to force a result on such a lifeless pitch. Despite the pitch it was still a really good test match, much better than all the ODI nonsense we’ve had to put up with for the last six months.
There must be loads for England’s selectors to think about. Cook still hasn’t made any runs and Trotty didn’t fare well as opener. I can’t help thinking form is temporary but class is permanent in both cases. I’m still not convinced by Moeen Ali but he comes back into the squad and the selectors seem keen to get him involved. Presumably Treadwell will be the unlucky one to miss out? The question is how are England going to fit another all-rounder into this team? Will Stokes end up batting down at eight?
The next test starts on Tuesday so we’ll soon find out.