BRIDGETOWN: Part-time off-spinner Roston Chase took eight wickets as West Indies crushed England by 381 runs in the first Test at Kensington Oval on Saturday.
Chase proved the unlikely bowling hero as he seized his chance to shine in the absence of any specialist spinner in the team, picking up a career-best 8-60.
Set the improbable target of 628 to win, the tourists slid to ignominious defeat in bright sunshine on the fourth day, losing their last six wickets for 31 runs either side of the tea interval to be dismissed for 246, ending a winning streak of five matches.
It was the largest margin of victory by the West Indies on home soil and third largest anywhere in their 91 years as a Test-playing nation.
Chase made the most of a fourth day pitch showing more signs of wear but also benefited from poor shot selection by an England side that looked shell-shocked from the events of the previous two days when they were routed for just 77 in their first innings.
They then saw the West Indies mass 415 for six declared in the second innings with captain Jason Holder starring with an unbeaten double-century and wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich contributing 116 not out in an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 295.
It was left to stand-in wicketkeeper Shai Hope to complete the dismissal which sealed the result, stumping Sam Curran down the leg-side off Chase 40 minutes into the final session.
The England top-order all got starts in the second innings but only opener Rory Burns (84) turned it into a big score.
“Bitterly disappointed,” England captain Joe Root said in an on-field interview. “We’re a far better side than we’ve played this week and we’ve got to keep remembering how well we have played of late.”
Statisticians reached for the record books to put the result into historic perspective, revealing only two occasions when the Windies won by bigger margins by runs. They defeated England by 425 runs in Manchester in 1976 and dusted Australia by 408 runs in Adelaide in 1980.
“It’s difficult to explain and hard to take,” Root added. “We didn’t underestimate them. It just showed how difficult it is to win away from home.”
Chase’s extraordinary figures — better than Shane Warne’s test best of eight for 71 — were achieved even though he did not exact prodigious turn. He got just enough, however, to keep the batsmen on edge.
Chase came into the match with a profligate Test bowling average of over 40. He flighted the ball well but was aided by some poor shots by the batsmen.
Despite Chase’s heroics, Holder was named man-of-the-match after his unbeaten second innings knock of 202.
“Really good test match for me personally. To come back the way I’ve come back I’m really pleased,” Holder, who missed the recent tour of Bangladesh due to a shoulder injury, said.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months trying to get myself back to full fitness. I’ve had a lot (of emotion) bottled up for a long time.”
He also heaped praise on Chase. “He bowled extremely well today. He got the ball in a really good area.”
Holder warned that the result, though welcome, was only one match. “We’ve still got a long way to go. One test match doesn’t make a summer. We’ve been in this position before, so lots of hard work to be done.”
The second Test starts on Thursday in North Sound on the island of Antigua.
“We ticked a few boxes in this test match but it’s a matter of turning up in Antigua and doing the same,” Holder said.
WEST INDIES (1st Innings) 289
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 77
WEST INDIES (2nd Innings) 415-6 declared
ENGLAND (2nd Innings; overnight 56-0):
R. Burns b Chase 84
K. Jennings c Holder b Joseph 14
J. Bairstow c Hope b Gabriel 30
J. Root c Bravo b Chase 22
B. Stokes lbw b Chase 34
J. Buttler c Campbell b Chase 26
Moeen Ali c Holder b Chase 0
B. Foakes c Hetmyer b Chase 5
S. Curran st Hope b Chase 17
Adil Rashid c Brathwaite b Chase 1
J. Anderson not out 4
EXTRAS (B-4, NB-2, W-3) 9
TOTAL (all out, 80.4 overs) 246
FALL OF WKTS: 1-85, 2-134, 3-143, 4-167, 5-215, 6-217, 7-218, 8-228, 9-234.
BOWLING: K. Roach 14-3-58-0, S. Gabriel 16.5-2-55-1 (1nb, 1w), J. Holder 12-6-24-0 (1nb), R. Chase 21.4-2-60-8 (1w), A. Joseph 12-4-35-1, J. Campbell 4.1-0-10-0 (1w).
RESULT: West Indies won by 381 runs.
UMPIRES: Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand) and Rod Tucker (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019