Part-time off-spinner Roston Chase took eight wickets as West Indies crushed England by 381 runs in the first in Barbados on Saturday. Chase seized his chance to shine in the absence of any specialist spinner in the team, picking up a test-best eight for 60 at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown. West Indies, rank underdogs in the three-match series, bowled out England for 246 in the second innings after dismissing them for 77 in the first.
They won with more than a day to spare in what can only be termed a shambolic display by the visitors, who were coming off a summer series win over number one ranked India. The England top-order all got starts in the second innings but only opener Rory Burns (84) turned it into a big score.
“Bitterly disappointed,” England captain Joe Root said in an on-field interview. “We’re a far better side than we’ve played this week and we’ve got to keep remembering how well we have played of late.”
Statisticians reached for the record books to put the result into historic perspective, revealing only two occasions when the Windies won by bigger margins by runs. They defeated England by 425 runs in Manchester in 1976 and dusted Australia by 408 runs in Adelaide in 1980.
“It’s difficult to explain and hard to take,” Root added. “We didn’t underestimate them. It just showed how difficult it is to win away from home.”
Chase’s extraordinary figures – better than Shane Warne’s test best of eight for 71 – were achieved even though he did not exact prodigious turn. He got just enough, however, to keep the batsmen on edge. Chase came into the match with a profligate test bowling average of over 40. He flighted the ball well but was aided by some poor shots by the batsmen.
Despite Chase’s heroics, West Indies captain Jason Holder was named man of the match after his unbeaten second innings knock of 202. “Really good test match for me personally. To come back the way I’ve come back I’m really pleased,” Holder, who missed the recent tour of Bangladesh due to a shoulder injury, said.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months trying to get myself back to full fitness. I’ve had a lot (of emotion) bottled up for a long time.” He also heaped praise on Chase.
“He bowled extremely well today. He got the ball in a really good area.” Holder warned that the result, though welcome, was only one match.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. One test match doesn’t make a summer. We’ve been in this position before, so lots of hard work to be done.” The second test starts on Thursday in North Sound on the island of Antigua.
“We ticked a few boxes in this test match but it’s a matter of turning up in Antigua and doing the same,” Holder said.
Joe Root struggles to explain defeat
England captain Joe Root struggled to explain his team’s 381-run defeat by West Indies in the first test in Barbados on Saturday, suggesting the result was an aberration that did not reflect the true quality of his team. “We’ve still got two very important games in this series and it’s crucial we bounce back very quickly, very strong, which we’re more than capable of doing,” Root said in an on-field interview.
“We’ve been in this position before and we’ve shown great character and application in managing to turn things around and hopefully we can manage to do that again this time. “All the guys are hurting and will be desperate to put it right in Antigua.”
England will not have to wait long for a chance of revenge, with the second test starting at North Sound on the island of Antigua on Thursday.
Root refused to be second-guessed over team selection. The visitors omitted proven pace bowler Stuart Broad, instead going with two spinners, as leggie Adil Rashid joined off-spinner Moeen Ali in the line-up. But Rashid, who did not take a wicket, was ineffectual, while 20-year-old medium-fast Sam Curran picked up only one wicket on a Kensington Oval pitch that was hard to read.
The home team, meanwhile, went with a four-pronged pace attack and no specialist slow bowler. That was hardly noticed in the first innings when the quicks, led by Kemar Roach with five wickets, dismissed England for 77. But scalps were harder to come by in the second innings and West Indies were fortunate to be bailed out by part-time off-spinner Roston Chase, who etched his name in the record books by taking eight wickets for 60.
“After a test match it’s very easy to make selections, once you’ve seen exactly how the surface is going to play,” Root said. “If you look at the way the game panned out over four days, no-one would have seen the pattern of play as it unfolded.
“Yes, we could have gone down a different route in terms of selection but it doesn’t protect the way we played.” England started their series in the Caribbean as hot favourites, coming off two big series wins against India (4-1 at home) and Sri Lanka (3-0 away).
“We’re a far better side than we’ve gone about things this week,” Root said. “We have to … take responsibility and turn it to Antigua and perform much better than we have done, making sure we come back hard and we’re ready for everything that surface is going to throw at us.”
Unlikely hero Chase joins elite list of Windies’ bowlers
Roston Chase, who engineered West Indies’ demolition of England in the first test on Saturday, started his second-innings bowling spell to give the team’s pace quartet a breather as much as anything. A few hours later he had joined an elite list of West Indies’ bowlers with eight wickets or more.
Chase did not extract a great deal of turn from the Kensington Oval pitch in Barbados, but flighted the ball beautifully and, aided by some poor England batting, emerged with the figures of eight for 60. “Looking at the wicket, I always thought I would come into play in the second innings,” he told reporters.
With the home team having opted for a line-up lacking a specialist spinner, captain Jason Holder had few options other than to use Chase, a batting all-rounder who entered the match with a test bowling average of more than 40. “The quicks set it up for us in the first innings and (spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed) told me I’m going to have to bowl 25 overs in the second innings, to get my mind ready for it, so I was always prepared to do some work, to give the pacers a rest,” he said.
Chase’s first wicket was perhaps his best and most important, clean bowling Rory Burns for 84 with a ball that found the gate between bat and pad. “I started to pick up some wickets and it went from there,” said Barbados-born Chase, 26. “I just tried to be consistent and land it my areas, despite what the batsmen were doing, put some revs on the ball and vary my pace a bit.”
He fittingly delivered the final blow by having Sam Curran stumped for 17, sealing a 381-run win for the hosts. Only Jack Noreiga — 9-95 v India at Port of Spain in 1971 — has taken more than eight wickets in an innings for West Indies.
Chase joined a list with eight wickets that also comprises Colin Croft, Lance Gibbs, Curtley Ambrose, Devendra Bishoo, Shannon Gabriel, Michael Holding and Alf Valentine.