The first Test match between England and West Indies proved to be exactly what the cricket fans were rooting for after a prolonged break from live-action due to the current global pandemic. Both the teams put up an absolute show in Southampton with the visitors winning by four wickets. England were bowled out for 204 and 313 in their first and second innings, respectively, whereas West Indies managed to score 318 in the first and chased the remaining in the second to win comfortably.
Here are our key takeaways from the first Test match in the #RaiseTheBat series.
DIFFICULT WELCOME TO CAPTAINCY FOR STOKES
After just his maiden Test match as England captain, Ben Stokes understood exactly why Joe Root loses his sleep all the time. The match began on the wrong foot for Stokes, the stand-in captain for England. Conditions were overcast and the forecast expected a lot of rain in the first two days. Stokes won the toss and in trying to be positive, elected to bat first. This call raised quite a few eyebrows around with some believing that the match was lost by England at the toss itself.
HOLDER PROVES WHY HE’S THE BEST
Jason Holder came into this series as the number one ranked all-rounder in Test cricket and by the second day everyone understood why. The 6 feet 7-inch bowler bowled his heart out and landed the ball in the perfect areas on a pitch which was doing little to help the bowlers. He picked up his career-best figures of 6/42 in the first innings and led his team to victory on the final day by standing tall till the end with a crucial 14 not out. It seems like Holder won the much-anticipated battle between the two captains in the first Test match.
ENGLAND’S BOWLING HEADACHES
Stuart Broad’s omission from the playing eleven was the biggest talking point even before a ball was bowled in the first Test match. In his last 12 matches, Broad has picked up 48 wickets and has been phenomenal for his country. He has bowled his best in the last two years and his omission proved to be a controversial one. The thinking behind this move, however, was straight forward. On a slowish track, Stokes and Co. felt that extra pace would make the difference. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, both of whom can clock our 90 miles per hour, were preferred over Broad, who is more of a swing bowler.
Former Windies cricketer Tino Best let his opinion known in public with Archer not seeming to take the criticism sportingly leading to a social media exchange. This seemed to have motivated Archer who bowled his heart out in the second innings and was rewarded with three key wickets after going wicketless in the first. Wood didn’t particularly have a great match either, picking only a couple of wickets throughout. England have a big selection headache ahead of the second Test in Manchester and it’ll be interesting to know who gets the nod to keep the series alive for his country.
WEST INDIES MEAN BUSINESS
The Windies had been in the United Kingdom for more than a month now due to the COVID-19 protocols and this extended tour could actually be a blessing in disguise for the visiting team as they will have more time to get acclimatized to the foreign conditions. West Indies looked more prepared and less rusty compared to the hosts and the way they have started this series, it’s for everyone to see that they mean business and are looking to win a Test series in England after 32 years.
There’s not a lot of time to contemplate the result as the second Test begins on July 16. England have plenty of questions to answer but one positive would be that their premier batsman and Test captain, Joe Root will be back. The first Test match between England and West Indies has set the tone for what could be a cracker of a Test series for cricket lovers.
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