England level series with West Indies ahead of deciding third Test

Home side will hope key man Ben Stokes is fit to start Friday’s final Test

Day 5 of 5: England 469-9 dec (B Stokes 176, D Sibley 120, R Chase 5-172) & 129-3 dec (B Stokes 78 no) bt West Indies 287 (K Brathwaite 75, S Brooks 68, R Chase 51) & 198 (S Brooks 62, J Blackwood 55) by 113 runs.

The destination of the Wisden Trophy remains unknown after England’s 113-run victory at Old Trafford. For the second match in a row the outcome was uncertain at tea on the final day but England’s eager attack would not be denied.

Once again the players of both sides have made light of the absence of spectators to provide a compelling contest that had the attributes of proper Mancunian Test cricket – apart from the absence of an elongated worm created by the collection of hundreds of empty plastic beer glasses in the stands.

This victory leaves the England selectors with some wonderful options among the pacemen ahead of the final match, which begins on Friday at the same ground. The sole certainty is that they want to select Ben Stokes – after all he did score 254 runs in the game as well as taking three wickets – but he did pull up in the middle of an over just before the finish to set some alarm bells ringing. He was, of course, man of the match.


Stokes was centre stage for most of the game. He did not hang around in the morning when England resumed their second innings on 37 for two. Since he stayed in they were able to plunder 92 from 11 overs before the declaration just before noon.

Joe Root was run out for 22 in an unusual manner in Test cricket. Stokes summoned him for a single after the ball had passed down the leg side to the keeper and this took the England captain by surprise. Earlier Stokes, when on 29, had been dropped at deep extra-cover by John Campbell, who had a rotten day. This blemish allowed England to keep accelerating, with Stokes smiting three sixes in his unbeaten 78 from 57 balls.

So England had 85 overs to bowl West Indies out and by lunch they were well on their way, with the irrepressible Stuart Broad to the fore, demonstrating that competition for places really is rather a good thing.

In his first over Campbell played a flamboyant cover drive away from his body and the ball raced to the boundary; Broad raised his eyebrows and had the good sense to pitch the next delivery in exactly the same spot; Campbell drove again and appeared – to a quorum behind the stumps – not to make contact. Root, with half a second to spare, decided to review and there was a telltale little spike.

Next Kraigg Brathwaite was stuck on the crease and lbw to Chris Woakes, who has impressed on his return to the team while still looking politely angelic for a nasty fastie, even with his heavy new beard. Then Shai Hope, oozing quality as ever during another brief innings, was bowled by a Broad nip-backer, which is now the bowler's stock delivery to the right-hander rather than the away-swinger.

After lunch Roston Chase was soon lbw to Broad and West Indies were rocking on 37 for four. Now the B team, Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood, rallied. But for the decisions of Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer not to tour, this pair might not have been in the team; but the pecking order may have changed now. They would add 100 together, batting until the last ball before tea.

Uncharacteristically, England declined an opportunity to review early in the partnership when Woakes was bowling. When Brooks was on 17 a lifter hit something before being taken by Jos Buttler; the umpire, Richard Illingworth, was unmoved because, like the England fielders, he reckoned that the ball had glanced only the lower arm of the batsman. The replay showed that the ball had just brushed the bat handle as well.

As the ball softened, West Indies’ resolve hardened. Stokes was summoned and before long he was in bodyline mode from around the wicket, forever peppering the middle of the pitch and aiming for the ribcage. Blackwood, in particular, was uncomfortable but it looked as if he would survive the barrage. But in the last over of the session his fend ballooned on the leg side and Buttler took an athletic catch.

After the break Woakes was recalled since Dom Bess had so far struggled to make an impact and immediately he dispatched a timid Shane Dowrich, who therefore endured the indignity of a Test match pair, having faced only eight balls in the two innings. As happened first time around, he was stuck on the crease, lbw, and was Woakes's 100th Test victim.

Jason Holder looked a more trustworthy ally for Brooks. Root began shuffling his bowlers, tossing the ball to Sam Curran, who had found no swing earlier on. Hence he opted to come around the wicket and to add some cutters to the mix. Brooks, who had looked so assured throughout, now allowed himself to be stuck on the crease to become the fourth lbw victim of the innings.

The resistance now was mostly passive, apart from a straight six from Holder, but in the same over Bess conjured the perfect off-break that turned through the gate. Soon afterwards Alzarri Joseph sliced a drive off Stokes, which brought Shannon Gabriel to the crease with 19 overs to go.

In fact Kemar Roach was the last man dismissed, courtesy of a brilliant catch at short leg by Ollie Pope off the bowling of Bess, a rejuvenated bowler once switched to the James Anderson end. All that very cunning talk about the importance of the second new ball proved to be irrelevant. – Guardian