WI v ENG: What history tells us of the third and final Test


As West Indies and England prepare for battle in St. Lucia this weekend, Avenash Ramzan presents a statistical review of the results of the final Tests of the eight three-match series involving these two sides. West Indies are favourites on current form, but history favours the Englishmen.

Take the Jason Holder suspension out the equation and West Indies have had a perfect start to 2019.

Two Test matches, two ticks in the ‘W’ column and the Wisden Trophy is back in Caribbean territory for the first time since 2008 when the Chris Gayle-led side won the five-match at home 1-0.

A 381-run thumping of the Englishmen at Kensington Oval, was followed by an authoritative 10-wicket demolition a week later in Antigua. Ten scheduled days of Test cricket done and dusted in seven.

Joe Root’s men have been ruffled by the four-pronged pace attack of Holder, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel, to the point where they have only one 200+ total in four innings.

They have simply not recovered from Roach’s fiery spell on that second afternoon in Bridgetown, where they were blown away like leaves for 77.

While they fared better in the second innings, managing 246, Antigua did not provide any respite, as totals of 187 and 132 were way below-par, albeit on a difficult pitch.

By contrast, West Indies lowest total (minus the run-chase of 14 in Antigua) has been 289 in the first innings in Barbados, followed by 415-6 declared and 306.

The teams are off to St. Lucia for the third and final Test, starting Saturday, with the storyline pretty straightforward- West Indies are gunning for a whitewash; England aiming to salvage some pride.

Historical perspective

This is the ninth instance West Indies and England have clashed in a three-match Test series, the first of which was in 1928. Incidentally, that remains the only occasion a team has won all three games in a series, with England being the victor by an innings in all three matches.

91 years later, West Indies stand on the cusp of returning the favour. Of the eight series preceding this one, West Indies only won one, in England in 1973 by a 2-0 margin.

There has been only one drawn three-match series between these side and that occurred in 2015 when the series ended 1-1.

But what has happened in the third and final match of these eight series thus far?

Well, history favours England with four victories, as against West Indies two. Here’s a recap of how those matches panned out.

Jack Hobbs, later Sir Jack Hobbs

In the final match of that 1928 series, England won by an innings and 71 runs at The Oval to complete a clean-sweep.

West Indies posted 238 with Clifford Roach making 53 and Maurice Tate taking 4-59. England then piled up 438 on the back of Jack Hobbs’ 159, as Herman Griffith grabbed a career-best 6-103 and George Francis 4-112.

Faced with a huge deficit of 200, West Indies were shot out for 129 with Frank Martin topscoring with 41. Alfred Freeman bagged 4-47, Tate 3-27 and Harold Larwood 3-41. (England 1; West Indies 0)

Charles Marriott

Five years later, England won by an innings and 17 runs at The Oval with leg-spinner Charles Marriott bamboozling the West Indian batsmen with an 11-wicket match-haul. It was, rather bizarrely, Marriott’s only Test match. Maybe, at 37, age was a decisive factor.

England’s 312, built on opener Alfred Bakewell’s 107, was enough to force an innings victory. Fast bowler Emmanual Martindale took 5-93, but he would spend the rest of the match resting in the dressing room or batting as West Indies made 100 and 195 with Marriott taking 5-37 in the first innings and 6-59 in the second.

Roach’s 56 in the second innings was West Indies only half-century in the game. (England 2; West Indies 0)

Len Hutton, later Sir Len Hutton

The Oval again in 1939, produced the first drawn third Test in a three-match series between these two teams. It was high-scoring affair that produced three individual hundreds and two nineties.

England batted first and posted 352 with Joseph Hardstaff getting 94, Norman Oldfield 80 and the prolific opener Len Hutton 73. Fast bowler Learie Constantine grabbed 5-75 for the Caribbean side, who responded with a mammoth 498.

Kenneth Weekes, a two-Test wonder, made 137 in what was his final Test innings, and Victor Stollmeyer, the Trinidad and Tobago right-hander, scored 96 in what turned out to be his lone Test innings.

Constantine chipped in with 79, while George Headley and Jeffrey Stollmeyer scored 65 and 59 respectively. Fast bowler Reginald Perks took 5-165.

England then batted out the remainder of the match, ending on 366-3 with Hutton hitting 165 not out and captain Wally Hammond 138. (England 2; West Indies 0; Draw 1)

Basil Butcher

It was not until 1969 that West Indies and England again clashed in a three-match series. The Englishmen maintained their dominance in the final game, winning by 30 runs at Leeds.

Opener John Edrich made 79 in England’s 223, as Vanburn Holder (4-48) and John Shepherd (3-43) were among the wickets. Barry Knight, the right-arm medium-pacer, then took 4-63 as West Indies mustered 161 with Basil Butcher and Holder making 35 each.

Batting a second time and with a sizeable lead, England grafted their way to 240 with Basil D’Oliveira’s 39 being the highest. Garfield Sobers was outstanding with the ball, claiming 5-42 from 40 overs, 18 of which were maidens.

Set 303 to win the final Test of the series, West Indies fell short at 272 with the Guyanese pair Butcher and Stephen Camacho making 91 and 71 respectively. (England 3; West Indies 0; Draw 1)

Garfield Sobers, later Sir Garfield Sobers

It was in 1973 that West Indies recorded their first win in the final Test of a three-matches series between these two cricketing powerhouses. The venue was Lord’s, the home of cricket, and the margin of victory was a massive innings and 226 runs.

The victory was set up by the batsmen, who put together 652-8 declared with captain Rohan Kanhai, the Guyanese batting maestro, leading the effort with a brilliant 157. Sobers bludgeoned 150 not out and Bernard Julien cracked 121, batting at number eight.

The Guyanese left-handed duo, Clive Lloyd and Roy Fredericks, contributed 63 and 51 respectively as Robert Willis took 4-118 and Tony Grieg 3-180.

England’s two efforts produced 233 and 193 with Keith Fletcher getting half-centuries in both innings (68 and 86 not out). Keith Boyce took 4-50 and 4-49; Vanburn Holder 4-56, Julien 3-69 and Lance Gibbs 2-39 and 3-26. (England 3; West Indies 1; Draw 1)

Denesh Ramdin

The next three-match series happened in 2012, with match three of the series ending in a rain-affected draw in Birmingham.

An unbeaten 107 from wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, a career-best 95 from Tino Best batting at number 11 and 76 from Marlon Samuels afforded West Indies a first innings total of 426.

Graham Onions (4-88), Tim Bresnan (3-11) and Steven Finn (3-109) were the wicket-takers for England, who reached 221-5 in response. The entire final day was washed out.

Kevin Pietersen made 78 and Ian Bell 76 not out. Best had 2-37. It was in this game Sunil Narine and Assad Fudadin made their Test debut. (England 3; West Indies 1; Draw 2)

Jermaine Blackwood

Three years later, Kensington Oval in Barbados produced West Indies’ second victory in the final game of a three-match series between these two teams.

In a low-scoring contest, England’s 257, built around Alistair Cook’s 105 and Moeen Ali’s 58, was the only total above 200. Jerome Taylor took 3-36 for West Indies, who responded with 189. James Anderson snared 6-42 and Jermaine Blackwood topscored with 85.

Taylor (3-33), Jason Holder (3-15) and Veerasammy Permaul (3-43) then skittled out England for 123 with Jos Buttler’s 35 not out and Ben Stokes’ 32 being the only scores of note.

Darren Bravo then showed his undoubted class, stroking a fine 82 and Blackwood crowned an excellent game, scoring 47 not out, as West Indies achieved a target of 192, losing five wickets in the process. (England 3; West Indies 2; Draw 2)

James Anderson

The last time these two sides met in a three-match series was in 2017, and it was England who won the final Test by nine wickets at Lord’s.

Ben Stokes’ 6-22 kept West Indies to 123 in the first innings with opener Kieran Powell making 39. Stokes returned with the bat to score 60 and Stuart Broad 38 in England’s 194, with Kemar Roach bagging 5-72 and Jason Holder 4-54.

Faced with a deficit of 71, West Indies ran into James Anderson, who snapped up 7-42, as they were bowled out for 177 with Shai Hope following up his twin hundreds in the previous Test with 62 and Powell making 45.

Tom Westley (44*) and Mark Stoneman (40*) then lifted England to victory, making light work of a target of 107. (England 4; West Indies 2; Draw 2)

NOTE: West Indies and England have played in several four and five-match Test series. However, the focus of this article is three-match Test series.

Series results

1928 in England– England won 3-0

1933 in England– England won 2-0

1939 in England– England won 1-0

1969 in England– England won 2-0

1973 in England– West Indies won 2-0

2012 in England– England won 2-0

2015 in West Indies– Series drawn 1-1

2017 in England– England won 2-1

*2019 in West Indies– West Indies lead 2-0 with a match to play

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