How should I describe the last Test match of the 'Raise the Bat' series between the West Indies and England?
The second Test I thought was a disaster on the verge of tumbling down a precipice, but this was worse. It was embarrassing, shambolic, nauseating and shameful. This defeat has taken the West Indies further back than ever before.
From the onset, we knew the West Indies batting would struggle and for them to win a Test match, or at least two, the Windies bowlers had to win it for the team. By that, I mean exactly what happened in the first Test would have had to repeat itself - dismiss England for around 200 and build a lead of about 75 and then chase a target of around 200. This notion never materialised in the second Test and was a figment of the team's imagination in the third.
The West Indies batsmen looked like children going to the park to play with all the other kids in the neighbourhood and couldn't wait to go back home to get a lolly from their parents. To argue that they looked like novices and showed little resolve would be to put it extremely lightly. They should all beg for forgiveness from the bowlers like Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach.
Unfortunately, the West Indies got it wrong before a ball was bowled. Just how can the selectors fathom the thought of dropping Alzarri Joseph and bringing in Rahkeem Cornwall? Was it because Roston Chase picked up five wickets in the second Test? He bowled 44 overs. I would have given young quickie Chemar Holder an opportunity and fight fire with fire as England selected four seamers - Jofra Archer and Jimmy Anderson came in to support Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes. Poor Cornwall went wicketless in the Test and didn't realise that to make runs in England, you need to play with a straight bat.
Another diabolical selection was that of John Campbell. I suggested before the start of the third Test that he be replaced. Here is a man opening with a Test average of 26 so he failed, except in the first innings where he bettered his average by scoring 32. This is the opener who is entrusted with the responsibility to give the team a solid start.
In the batting department, I felt for Shai Hope. He is a much better player than his scores suggest but he is in a terrible patch at the moment and has to simply fight his way out of it. His confidence is gone and because of that, his feet do not get him into the right position to play every ball on its merit. Jermaine Blackwood resisted for over an hour while wickets fell all around him, mostly by the LBW route, as none of the batsmen showed a proper technique to get on the front foot and most importantly, play with a straight bat. Everyone was guilty of playing around the ball and trying to hit it to leg and all the English bowlers did was bowl the ball at a full length and sooner rather than later, the West Indies batsmen would make an error of judgement and find themselves back in the pavilion.
In contrast, when one looked at the lesser English batsmen like Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley (in the second Test), they moved their feet and played straight. Compare them with Kraigg Braithwaite, Campbell, Chase and Hope and note the difference.
Our fast bowlers, in particular Gabriel and Roach, tried their best but when they got tired, the pressure on England disappeared. Jason Holder is a good change bowler but if the ball is not swinging for him, he is ineffective, leaving the next option to be Cornwall. The West Indies needed a young, energetic paceman to bowl quick and keep the English on their toes.
Going back to the second Test, it would have been wise to rest Gabriel and have him fresh for the decider. It matters not how he looked at practice the day before that Test match; sometimes, you just have to save someone from themselves. Roach bowled well but he also seemed to tire after a few overs. When will Holder be able to bowl a yorker at will? He lives in Barbados, so surely he can spend some time with Joel Garner who had the knack to bowl a yorker when he wanted because of his height.
As mentioned previously, this defeat has set the West Indies back and as much as I praised the team for the victory in the first Test, nothing went right after that including Holder's captaincy which again, left a lot to be desired. He allowed the game, at times, to roll on just hoping the English batsmen would get themselves out.
Broad's innings, which turned the game on the second morning, was ridiculous. Here is a man coming in to bat at number ten and made 50 in 33 balls - the third fastest tally by an Englishman, and all he did was swat the West Indies around the ground. Holder did not have a clue on how to stop the onslaught. Luckily for the Windies, Broad took a full toss from Chase and hit it straight to deep midwicket but by then, the damage was already done as he and Dom Bess put on 76 for the ninth wicket.
To top off the bizarreness, Holder, in a post-match interview when asked if the West Indies missed Shimron Hetmeyer, Darren Bravo and Keemo Paul said, “There is no guarantee that Bravo, Hetmyer or Paul would play”.
Did he see his team's batting averages? His batsmen averaged the lowest at 16 with the highest at 35. Joe Denley averaged 23, Crawley 24, and were both dropped. Two of England's batsmen averaged in their 30s and the rest in their 40s - it surely tells a story.
So, will we all have to listen to the usual positives? Apart from Gabriel, Roach and Blackwood, the West Indies have zero. The team must go back to the drawing board, make changes and bring in some new faces. Enough is enough. Now is the time for the selectors to show some steel.
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.