Superb Brathwaite and Blackwood hundreds repel England
SUMMARY: England 507-9 dec. (Joe Root 153, Ben Stokes 120, Dan Lawrence 91, Chris Woakes 41, Ben Foakes 33, Alex Lees 30; Veerasammy Permaul 3-126, Kemar Roach 2-68, Jayden Seales 1-55) lead West Indies 288-4 (Kraigg Brathwaite 109*, Jermaine Backwood 102, Shamarh Brooks 39; Dan Lawrence 1-8, Ben Stokes 1-34, Matthew Fisher 1-44, Jack Leach 1-97 ) by 219 runs
Report and Photography by Akeem Greene in Barbados
Transcendent centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood pushed back the charging England at the end of day three in the second Test at the Kensington Oval, Barbados.
The obdurate Brathwaite carried his bat to 109* after resuming on 28 while the flamboyant Blackwood saw a return to form with a charmed 102.
The vital stand of 183 between the two brought the deficit down to 219 as West Indies cooked up a solid resistance to quell the symphony of the massive Barmy Army for most of the day, to reach 288-4 at stumps.
Brathwaite grinded to what is a superb first Test century at home off 278 balls, a triumph of concentration and resolve.
It was his tenth career century and one which the situation demanded after his side was in a precarious position at lunch on a placid deck.
His vice-captain, short of big scores in recent months, rode his luck to reach a well-deserved ton before he was dismissed four overs before play ended on an attritional day in the field for England.
With scores of 18 and five in the first Test in Antigua, Shamarh Brooks was fighting the ‘demons’ of playing away from his body. He really ‘dug-in’ at the end of the day, albeit uneasy against the left-arm spin of Jack Leach.
After gritting through the pressure, Brooks folded, he rocked back and slapped a long-hop from Leach straight to point after facing 105 balls for his 39. A dejected look and slow walk back to the pavilion.
West Indies’ savior in Antigua, Nkrumah Bonner, looked intent on producing a mirror performance as he dropped anchor with nine from 33 balls along with two classy fours off of Leach.
England’s kingpin Ben Stokes was introduced and no surprise, he delivered Bonner’s wicket by striking him just above the knee roll.
Bonner quickly reviewed but Nigel Duguid’s decision stood with the ball just clipping the bails. Had he adjudged not out, the umpire’s call would have given Bonner a life.
At 101-3, in came Jermaine Blackwood, a player who last surpassed fifty in August 2021 – nine innings ago – and it was quite a nervy start.
Scoreless after eight balls, Stokes pinned him on the back leg, but England didn’t review after the vociferous appeal – replay showed it was crashing into leg stump.
Debutant Saqib Mahmood got the ball talking with some reverse swing and he produced a hellacious in-swinger which struck Blackwood plumb on his toe. But he survived again, as the review showed it was inches outside of the line.
It was the final drama in a session where West Indies scored just 43 runs in 27 overs, however, the biggest plus was Brathwaite girded for the long haul, for which he cashed in big.
Blackwood’s string of lives continued after the interval, however, he and Brathwaite, ensured the wicket column had no change while 82 runs were added.
The Jamaican grew in confidence and got value for his shots through his noted areas backward of point or over cover – there was one short-ball from Stokes which he flogged through cover with disdain.
In the 93rd over, Mahmood seemingly brought an end to Blackwood’s luck when he bowled him and thought he secured his maiden Test wicket but it was ecstasy to agony as the third umpire ruled he over-stepped the line – no-ball meant no wicket.
Next ball, he shouldered his arms, and it whiskered past the off-stump. Blackwood must have run out of nine lives by now.
Though England didn’t take their chances, Blackwood did, and a thick edge out the reach of Joe Root at slip brought him the single needed to reach his third Test century and second against England, from 207 balls.
After striking 11 fours, Blackwood had a fatal error of misjudgment as he shouldered his arms to a straight delivery from part-time off-spinner Dan Lawrence.
Alzarri Joseph (4*) did the night watchman duties, not without drama, but took West Indies, who still need 19 to avoid the follow-on, to safety.