West Indies v England Test Series Review
Five Lessons Learned From England's Test Defeat In The West Indies
England restored a fragment of credibility to their tour of the West Indies by picking up a consolation victory in St Lucia this week. However, the damage was already done as they found themselves 2-0 down on the back of some shocking batting collapses.
England were expected to whitewash a West Indies team that had recently struggled for form, but they were frequently abject and this shock result has seen them plummet down the world rankings. It is now time for introspection ahead of the Ashes later this year, and these are five key things we learned from England’s series defeat in the West Indies:
England’s Away Blues Return
England went into this series against the West Indies full of confidence after going to Sri Lanka in November and securing a 3-0 whitewash victory. However, before that they had gone more than two years without winning a single Test series away from home, a run that saw them lose 10 and draw twice. Hopes that those away blues had been banished in Sri Lanka proved to be well wide of the mark as Joe Root’s men, despite being clear favourites, returned to losing ways in the Caribbean sunshine.
Yet fans can take solace from their home form, which has been strong over the past couple of years. Next up for England is the Ashes in August and England enjoy home advantage for the five-Test series. The home team has won eight of the last nine Ashes series, so there is still plenty of hope for them despite suffering a humiliating defeat Down Under last time out.
West Indies Have New Stars to Turn to
The West Indies went into the series in dire straits after losing back-to-back series against Bangladesh and India. They went down with a whimper on both occasions, so fans must have braced themselves for the worst when an in-form England team boasting world-class talent jetted in. But they emerged triumphant with a Test to spare, buoyed by the return of Darren Bravo. He delivered a bold, match-winning 50 in the second Test on the sort of surface that gives batsmen nightmares, while Shimron Hetmyer and Alzarri Joseph showed that the future looks bright for this team.
Any punters that backed the unfancied West Indies to thrive against England in the cricket spread betting markets will have come away with a considerable profit after they exceeded all expectations. Jason Holder is developing into a fine captain and fans can look forward to the future with fresh optimism.
England Must Settle on a Stable Top Three
The tourists found themselves woefully short of runs in the West Indies and much of it stems from an inability to settle on a reliable top three. The legendary Alastair Cook has now retired, leaving a gaping hole in the team, but he was never able to find a settled opening partner anyway. No fewer than 21 batsmen have played in the top three since Andrew Strauss’ retirement in 2012, but few have convinced. In this series, Keaton Jennings scored just 62 runs in four innings and was removed with relative ease on each occasion. Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc would likely make mincemeat of him in the Ashes, so he may have blown his chance to make the team.
Rory Burns and Joe Denly were also given a chance, and were solid, without being spectacular. Jonny Bairstow has been shifted all over the place, and far too many batsmen are out of position. England have a wealth of attacking batsmen, and many are being made to play much higher up the order than they would like, while struggling to adapt their play. Yet overall they were a lot more patient and disciplined in the third Test – a 232-run victory – and that should give cause for some optimism, and give Joe Root something to build on ahead of the Ashes.
A Drastic Improvement is Required to Beat Australia
England were ranked second in the world last year after wrapping up a famous victory over India, but they have now slumped down to fifth, below Australia. The Aussies will have little cause for concern having watched England labour. They have started to enjoy an upturn in results and performances after a wretched period, and they are likely to welcome back Steve Smith and David Warner in time for the Ashes, so they will be dangerous. England need to bat like they did in St Lucia and cut out the inconsistency if they are to beat the Australians.
Mark Wood Impresses in The Caribbean
Very few Englishmen left the Caribbean with their reputations enhanced this week, but Wood is an exception to that rule. He delivered a spell of sustained brilliance on the second day of the final Test, recording career-best figures of 5-41. He brought genuine pace to proceedings, reaching 94.6mph and showing what a weapon he can prove to be going forwards. It is a long time since England saw such pace, bite and spite from a bowler and he can really improve the attack. Fans will hope he remains injury free and that Root uses him correctly, in high impact bursts that rock the opposition to their core.
England may have failed in the Test Series but will be looking to bounce straight back to victory in the One Day International Series against the West Indies. You can find all the latest cricket spread betting markets ahead of the ODI here.