West Indies v England 2018-19: 1st Test match analysis
Losing the Test match by 381 runs? Not what England would have expected.
England came into this series on the back of a 3-0 win against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka - who had comprehensively beaten South Africa 2-0 in their previous series. England seemed to have found a way to play well in foreign conditions and had a bowling attack that could do well in any playing conditions that they faced.
Here at Bridgetown, however, on a pitch that seemed slow at first, England erred by playing Sam Curran instead of Stuart Broad. While Curran has a better batting ability and offers a different angle with his left-arm action, Broad's pace and accuracy are better suited to these conditions, and his ability to break partnerships at the most opportune times would have made a massive difference to the Test match.
The lack of pace from Sam Curran, coupled with the general ineffectiveness of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid throughout the Test forced Joe Root to bowl Ben Stokes and James Anderson more than they should have, which is a concern given their importance to the team and their long-standing injury concerns.
Selection problems aside, England's batting performance is the bigger concern at the moment. Despite Rory Burns' runs in the second innings, England's capitulation in their first innings effectively sealed their fate in this Test match. A brutal spell of fast bowling by Kemar Roach stunned England and strung them along on their way to 77 all out, evoking memories of the first Test against West Indies ten years ago where they were dismissed for a measly 51. Questions over their top 3 still linger, with Burns and Jonny Bairstow (to an extent) showing their worth batting as an opener and at no.3 respectively.
West Indies were the better team throughout this match. Their fast bowling quartet of Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, and Alzarri Joseph ripped through England in their first innings, each matching pace with control throughout the match. Roach shone with figures of 5/17 in the first innings, with all five wickets falling in a spell of 27 balls that conceded only 4 runs.
Their batting also shone, as several batsmen made contributions - Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich, Kraigg Brathwaite, and John Campbell. The standout was Jason Holder, and his 202* in the second innings ruthlessly destroyed any chance of England winning this match.
England's performance showed that they are still reliant on the skills of a small group of players to make up for the inadequacies of the others in the team. The West Indies' performance showed that their players were willing to step up and play their part when needed. It remains to be seen if England's players can do the same over the course of the next two matches in this series.