Blog : Cricket returns with a bang
This Southampton Test between England and West Indies will be remembered for ever. The cricket at last returned in some form, probably in its best form, of course amidst all anxiety. The Corona threat is far from over. The anxiety of fast bowlers over new rule of not using saliva was making rounds.
The empty stadiums were another big worry. Yet the game was on, played in great spirit and the end was fascinating too. West Indies were underdogs for sure. In spite of some dramatic performances in their recent past against host England. But they wrested the initiative early on and never handed it to rivals except when they were 27/3 in second innings chasing 200.
At that time, Holder's men looked like crumbling under pressure but Chase and Black wood held on for a while and skipper gave finishing touches. New skipper Ben Stokes who himself had been architect of many turn arounds in past, had to see the underdogs running away with the game.
On an overcast morning Stokes chose to bat first which seemed very bold move but turned out to be blunder in the end. When the sun came out, wicket also improved and looked good even on fifth evening. Once the ball became old, the batsmen played freely from both the sides. West Indies, having a good first innings lead were left to chase small fourth innings total.
This West Indian batting does not have typical Caribbean flair. Most of them look like grinders, suited for longer version of cricket. You won't see many of them in limited overs cricket either. But they look good in technique for this version.
Black wood is probably notable exception. He is real stroke maker and reminds Augustine Logo. In past he has thrown his wicket but not this time until the victory was in sight. He is a good talent and so is wicket keeper Dow rich.
Shennon Gabriel was doubtful because of his fitness issue but he bowled superbly and along with much underrated Jason Holder, they did all the damage. Other bowlers chipped in too. That was commendable bowling performance even though, Stoke's decision helped them lot in first outing.
Ben Stoke will rue his decision of handing over weather advantage to West Indies. And some dropped catches and easy run-outs on last day did not help his team either. But England only know they are beaten in their own backyard and in typical English weather rather cheekily. Not many have done it before !!!