12 Sep 2017 - 0:18
Fresh Hope for West Indies after England Test series defeat
London: Given West Indies’ decline as a Test force has been 20 years in the making, it may be unwise to say that Saturday’s 2-1 series loss in England means they have “turned a corner”.
“I’ve heard it so many times and it’s always the same old story,” said fast bowling great Michael Holding, a key member of West Indies’ all-conquering teams of the mid 1970s and early 1980s.
“Have we turned the corner? We’ve turned about 40 corners since the year 2000,” added Holding, now a television commentator.
West Indies arrived in England without the likes of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels who, as a result of a thaw in a bitter dispute between Caribbean cricket chiefs and senior players, will be featuring in the upcoming one-day leg of the tour.
They duly lost the series opener, the inaugural day/night Test in Britain, by an innings and 209 runs inside three days at Edgbaston.
Yet within days they had bounced back to win the second Test at Headingley by five wickets -- their first Test match victory in England since 2000.
Shai Hope (pictured) led the way in Leeds by scoring two hundreds -- his first Test centuries -- only to suffer a nine-wicket defeat, again inside three days, at Lord’s.
Before the first Test, Hope averaged a modest 19.57 and had scored just 372 runs in 10 previous Tests.
Kraigg Brathwaite, only a year older at 24 than Hope, came within five runs of twin Headingley hundreds and the pair’s partnerships in Leeds suggested they could be the cornerstones of the top order.
“Obviously Shai was outstanding in this entire series and we must not forget Kraigg’s contribution as well, he really did a hell of a job, especially at Headingley, captain Jason Holder said after series loss.
“I think we’ve shown improvement. We’ve definitely shown that, especially in our bowling.”