Selfless Blackwood preferred West Indies victory over hundred
By Akeem Greene
Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood missed out on a second century by just five runs when he went for a full-blooded drive over mid-off.
He fell to Ben Stokes in the 61st over with score 189-6 and just 11 more needed for hard-fought triumph. The enduring effort of the usually pugnacious batsman lasted close to four hours, spanned 154 balls and included 12 fours.
Getting to three-figures would have been the icing on the cake for a batsman who reigned in his usual flamboyance and helped West Indies go 1-0 up in their Wisden Trophy defence.
Though scoring a second Test hundred against England upon his return to the team would have been marvellous, Blackwood said he was more focused on ensuring West Indies crossed the line to victory.
“I was not thinking about the hundred at no point in time; I was looking to get the score down and get the team across the line,” Blackwood stated in the Sandals Player Zone on Sunday.
He was dismissed in the same position in the first innings, but to spinner Dominic Bess and the rush of blood induced many to think, ‘same old Blackwood.’
However, he explained Coach Phil Simmons told him in the second innings to play his game and put the pressure back on England.
He entered at a tricky phase of the match with West Indies 27-3 and opener John Campbell back in the hut by virtue of retiring hurt due to a bruised toe.
“(The) time I spent some time at the crease; I batted 154 balls and before I went out to bat the coach told me just play my natural game and try to put some pressure on the bowlers and I did exactly that.”
The 28-year-old consistent run in Test team was halted in 2017 until he was chosen as a concussion substitute in August 2019 during the home series against India where he made 38.
He was left out for the next series against Afghanistan in India, but racked up the most runs in the Regional Four-Day Championship – 768 runs at 51.20 –inclusive of six half-centuries and a top-score of 248 for home franchise Jamaica Scorpions.
“My training; I think I changed my training style a little bit. Andre Russell [was] always pushing me to do more work so I normally trained one time so I started two times now…I trained with my franchise [then] I went by Andre’s house and did some more training again. So I think all the hard work I am putting in, I am seeing some rewards.”
Blackwood is a happy hunter against England, averaging 55.00 in seven Tests prior to this one, way higher than his career average of 31.25 in 29 Tests.
Though diminutive in stature, he can stand tall with an array of unconventional shots, but the compulsion to keep attacking is something Blackwood explained he has found control.
“Once I can go out there and bat time, bat over 200 balls or even 180, for sure I think I will score runs. I think all the hard work is paying off so far and once I can go out there and play my natural self and mix it with a bit of patience, I think that will certainly boost me for the next game and right through my career.”
In the series build up there was a massive focus on the potential threat menacing Barbadian-born pacer Jofra Archer would pose to West Indies. His match figures read 39-6-106-3 and though he ruffled Roston Chase with a scorcher, generally, West Indies batsman looked solid against him.
“It is the first time I am facing him so I didn’t really know what to expect because I watch him on TV, but actually when you go in the middle it is a totally different feeling. I think it was a good challenge, he bowled pretty good to me and almost took off my head at one point but that’s cricket.”
Blackwood credited the intense preparation from all the players, but singled out that the reserve players helped the batsmen to be really close to their peak for the match.