TEST: Wood rips through West Indies to give England advantage

SUMMARY: England 277 (Stokes 79, Buttler 67, Roach 4-48, Gabriel 2-49, Paul 2-58, Joseph 2-61) and 19-0 (Burns 10*, Jennings 8*) lead West Indies 154 (Campbell 41, Dowrich 38, Wood 5-41, Moeen 4-36) by 142 runs


A five-wicket haul to Mark Wood has put England in command for the first time this series, with a 142-run lead against West Indies in the third Test.

He had to wait for his chance, but when it came, Wood lunged at it like a caged animal released.

A late call-up to the England squad after Olly Stone returned home with a back injury before the first Test, Wood remained on the sidelines until he was named to play his 13th Test, and first since May, in a dead rubber that looked anything but on an action-packed second day in St Lucia.

It was not until the 22nd over, with West Indies suddenly looking vulnerable – thanks to Moeen Ali – in their reply to England’s first-innings 277, that Wood was finally let loose. What followed was a display of genuine pace, with Wood claiming 4-13 in the space of 4.2 overs, including two wickets in as many balls, to devastate West Indies’ pursuit.

Wood, who has battled ankle problems for much of his career, finished with his best figures of 5-41 off 8.2 overs, while Moeen played a pivotal role – his 4-36 included the wickets of West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell, who had threatened to run rampant.

Moeen came into the attack in the 13th over after James Anderson and Stuart Broad had become increasingly frustrated by the opening pair, who had piled on their fourth half-century partnership of the series alongside their unbeaten stand of 17 as they chased down a paltry target of 14 runs for a series-clinching victory in the second Test. Moeen had enjoyed some success against them, having dismissed both during the first Test in Barbados and Brathwaite again in the first innings in Antigua.

Campbell, in particular, looked threatening in St Lucia, surviving a couple of lbw appeals off Anderson and treating the England spearhead with disdain at times, his 10 runs in the seventh over – including a nonchalant six flicked off his hip – a prime example.

Anderson’s reaction when he caught Brathwaite in the deep off Ali was low-key then, on the next delivery, Ali had Campbell out lbw for 41 off 63 balls, ending what had looked like becoming a dangerous innings.

Wood also took two wickets in as many balls. His fourth delivery, to Shai Hope, was a 145kph bouncer that sent the batsman ducking to his knees out of harm’s way, while his fifth – at 148kph – was sent by Hope straight to Rory Burns at gully. On the next ball the mode of dismissal was similar, with Roston Chase edging to Burns again.

He may have missed the hat-trick, but Wood’s next wicket was of enormous value to his team, removing the threat of another dangerous batsman, Shimron Hetmyer, caught cheaply by Joe Root at second grab in the slips with the final ball before tea. Wood and Root combined again after the break to dismiss Darren Bravo for six.

England had relied heavily on Ben Stokes to do a job with the ball in Antigua and while he appeared to bat without any discomfort from the bruised heel that had him in some doubt for this Test, he was not called upon to bowl after looking sore as he went through some warm-up deliveries in the field.

Broad shut down the resistance of Shane Dowrich (38), trapping him lbw with they type of leg cutter that had proved effective for him in the previous match. When Broad then took a spectacular one handed catch while reeling backwards from mid-off to dismiss Alzarri Joseph and hand Moeen his fourth wicket, it left Wood to account for West Indies’ last man out, Shannon Gabriel, bowled for four.

Gabriel had displayed some breathtaking pace of his own in England’s first innings, breaking the fifth-wicket partnership of Stokes and Jos Buttler. The pair added just one run to their overnight stand of 124 before Gabriel’s 146kph gem clattered into Buttler’s stumps.

Jonny Bairstow endured a torrid time a the crease, not least when he was struck on the grill of his helmet as he bent back to dodge a 150kph Gabriel delivery. He was unscathed, but the same could not be said when he was stuck three times in the groin during the course of his innings, which produced just two runs off 33 deliveries.

Bairstow was bowled, a victim of Kemar Roach, who claimed four wickets as England lost 6 for 45 in another mini-collapse which, for once in this series, did not impact their prospects, courtesy of Wood’s performance. (ESPNCricinfo)

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