It was a brilliant final day of what has been a brilliant Test match at Headingley. While there are threats to the longest format of the game, spectacles like the one seen in Leeds over the past five days prove that it can still enthral and entertain with the best of them. All four results were still possible heading in to the final hour of the day but Shai Hope’s brilliant unbeaten century, his second in the match, led the Windies to a historic five-wicket victory.
It was a fine recovery from the tourists after the horror show at Edgbaston in the first Test that they lost by an innings and 209 runs. It was Windies’ only fourth Test victory away from home, excluding Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, in their past 88 overseas Tests and their first in England since 2000. It is also the second-highest successful chase ever in Test matches at Headingley and now gives them a chance to win the series at Lord’s.
In Kraigg Brathwaite and Hope, they have two batsmen of real Test match pedigree who they can build around for the next decade. The pair put on 144 on Tuesday (August 29) to put their side within sight of victory, and Hope, who became the first player ever to score hundreds in each innings of a first-class match at Headingley, with Jermaine Blackwood then saw them to their target of 321. Together, Hope and Brathwaite put on 390 runs in the match.
Hope’s 118 not out was an innings that was technically excellent and bristling with responsibility. He played straight for the most part, played the offspinner on a turning surface with ease and timed the ball sweetly. Even once the game had been won, he looked determined to be there at the end and by then, he had batted for ten hours and 36 minutes in the game.
England had their chances. Alastair Cook dropped Brathwaite on 4 and Stuart Broad dropped him later too which would have exposed Windies’ fragile lower-middle order far earlier in the day. With Windies needing 37, Cook also dropped Hope at slip off Broad although that miss was probably too late anyway as was Ben Stokes’s drop of Blackwood on the boundary with only six runs required.
The home side did not bowl as consistently as they might have wished with Chris Woakes, Stokes and Moeen Ali proving expensive at times and aside from the first hour, England’s bowlers found less from a fifth-day pitch than they might have expected. Despite showing some good resilience with the bat in their second innings, England have been beaten by the better team this week. It is yet another Test match loss in this maddening run of inconsistent results.
Windies began the day needing 317 runs to win. James Anderson and Broad ran in hard early on and found good carry and some sideways movement but the tourists survived with a combination of discipline and good fortune. Brathwaite was dropped by Cook, with the ball appearing to beat England’s first slip for pace. A bad miss made worse by it being Brathwaite, one of the Windies players capable of batting for long periods.
A number of other deliveries passed the edge in the opening ten overs but once the early movement had died down, Windies played more aggressively. Keiran Powell hit a number of sweetly-timed boundaries and the score had reached 46 when Broad managed to swing one away from the left-hander who edged the ball to Stokes at third slip for 23.
Three overs later, England had their second wicket when Brathwaite hit a half-volley straight back at Broad, who dropped it, only to see the ball hit the stumps at the non-strikers end and run out Kyle Hope for a duck. It was yet another drop in this match and although it still yielded a wicket, England would have preferred to see the back of Brathwaite rather than Hope.
Kyle’s brother Shai and Brathwaite then produced their match-winning stand of 144. Hope was the more fluent and stylish, his half-century coming off just 70 deliveries compared to the 98 balls it took Brathwaite, but both played straight, the recipe for success on a pitch with uneven bounce, and took advantage of scoring opportunities when they presented themselves.
In the five overs after lunch, 28 runs arrived and the century partnership was brought up soon after. England’s bowlers toiled, but there was plenty of loose stuff which meant the run rate never got out of hand for Windies. Hope and Brathwaite accumulated steadily, milking Woakes and Moeen and cashing in when England erred in either line or length.
England finally got the breakthrough just before tea when Moeen tossed one up to Brathwaite who drove expansively, edging to Stokes at slip for 95. It had been another fine display from the Windies opener to go with his century in the first innings. By the time of his dismissal, he had, like Hope, batted for over ten hours in the match and displayed all the concentration and doggedness his is known for.
His wicket gave the home side an end to bowl at but Hope and Roston Chase accumulated steadily after the interval. Chase was, however, given a life on 19 when he edged a ball from Anderson straight between wicket-keeper Bairstow and Jpe Root, who was at second slip rather than first. Anderson’s displeasure was obvious. The next over, Stokes threw the ball for four overthrows and England looked rattled.
Their nerves were settled somewhat when Chase was caught brilliantly by substitute fielder Mason Crane, diving away to his left, at mid-on off Woakes. Windies still required 76 runs to win and just over 20 overs in which to do it but the tourists had clearly decided to go for it. This was not an opportunity to pass up and Jermaine Blackwood signalled his intentions almost immediately with a larruped four over midwicket off Moeen and two wild hacks at Woakes.
England took the new ball in search of wickets but Blackwood greeted Anderson by walking down the wicket and depositing him over long-on for six. Soon after, Hope reached his hundred and the pair carried on without much fuss – although Blackwood hit Broad for another six – to within two runs of victory when Blackwood tried to finish it in style off Moeen but was stumped for 41. Their partnership was worth 74 and it had secured Windies a quite outstanding victory. Not many would have predicted that after Edgbaston.
Brief scores: England 268 & 490/9 decl. (Moeen Ali 84, Joe Root 72; Roston Chase 3-86) lost to Windies 427 & 322/5 (Kraigg Brathwaite 95, Shai Hope 118*; Moeen Ali 2-76) by five wickets.