HEADINGLEY (Agencies): It was one of the great Test matches. Headingley has seen some remarkable final days and West Indies created their own extraordinary tale by chasing down 322 to level the series. Shai Hope achieved what Kraigg Brathwaitenarrowly missed, becoming the first batsman to score twin hundreds on the ground in first-class cricket and, at 6.43pm, with the floodlights illuminating the ground almost as much as the day-night Test last week, Hope tucked the ball through square to complete one of the most unexpected redemption stories in the game’s history.
Such was the application and skill of West Indies’ batting, anchored by the 144-run third-wicket stand between Brathwaite and Hope that, once they got through the morning session, the prospect of victory was closer than many would accept. There was constantly talk of how quickly it could change, but the collapse never came. At tea, moments after losing Brathwaite for 95, they needed 123 off 35 overs; when Roston Chase was superbly caught by substitute Mason Crane at mid-on, 76 off 19.5 overs.
There was a chance with the new ball looming and the light fading that it could still unravel for West Indies, but Chase’s wicket may actually have helped. He was finding the old ball hard to time, and it brought in Jermaine Blackwoodwho chanced his arm (or batted normally for himself). He clubbed two tension-easing fours before, in brilliantly brazen style, hammering James Anderson’s second ball with the new ball straight for six. He was stumped with two runs needed, but his 41 off 45 balls ensured England never regained a foothold. From losing 19 wickets in a day, to this. Their first win in England since Edgbaston in 2000.
Hope brought up his century from 175 balls – the second fifty proving much harder work off 105 deliveries – and on 106, with 37 runs required, he benefited from the 13th drop catch of the match when Alastair Cook at first slip spilled a top-edged cut. The last West Indies batsman to score two centuries in a Test was Kieran Powell, against Bangladesh in 2012, and Hope’s performance – from a man who averaged 19 before this Test – epitomised more than anything the team’s revival. Those who paid £10 to get in witnessed an ‘I-was-there’ moment.
It was the second-highest successful chase at the ground behind Bradman’s 1948 Australians, slotting in ahead of England’s final-day hunt against Australia in 2001. Joe Root became the fourth England captain to declare and lose a Test but it was a perfectly reasonable target to set and it needs to be hoped a streak of positiveness isn’t knocked from Root’s mindset. England did not bowl badly, although Chris Woakes wasn’t at his best, on a surface that behaved far better than expected.
Missed chances, though, proved costly from early in the day. In the fourth over, Cook had also dropped Brathwaite when he had 4. Another chance came from Brathwaite, on 29, amid bizarre circumstances when he popped a return catch to Broad which burst through the hands and cannoned into the non-striker’s stumps with Kyle Hope well out of his crease. A wicket, but the more valuable one would have been Brathwaite’s, as one of the players with the ability to defy England for long periods. It was 40 overs before he offered another chance, edging Moeen Ali to slip, and by then the groundwork for victory had been laid.
Hope’s innings was magnificent. His first boundary was a rifled back-foot straight from a short-of-a-length delivery by Woakes and his fifty came off 70 balls, a slightly quicker rate than Brathwaite and he ensured Root could never dry up the scoring. As in the first session of the second day, it was an examination of both batsman’s techniques against a moving ball and the pair also played Moeen smartly to nullify his threat. After their 246-run partnership in the first innings, it was the first time since Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan at Colombo in 2000-01 that the same West Indian batsmen had shared two hundred stands in a match.
In mid-afternoon, England tried to conjure something with forceful spells from Broad and Ben Stokes, the latter not used until the 47th over of the innings, but both batsmen withstood everything, including a few zipping deliveries from Broad and the occasional ball which jumped off a length. England grew increasingly frustrated, especially Broad who took a kick at one of the followthrough marks which brought a rebuke from umpire S Ravi and may interest the ICC.
Eventually it was spin which brought the breakthrough, Brathwaite driving away from his body to give Stokes a catch at slip. England would have had expectations of making further inroads into the middle order, but Hope and Chase sensibly soaked up the pressure after tea as Root gave Anderson an extended 10-over spell either side of the break which gave him precious little time to rest before the new ball.
The harder ball zipped under the lights, but also came quicker off the bat – the middle and edges – as it dawned on England that the game had escaped them. With the target closing in Blackwood swung fiercely at Broad, edging a boundary and then clearing third man for six. There was still time for one more dropped catch – Stokes, of all people, shelling Blackwood at deep midwicket – but by then West Indies were all-but home. Lord’s, next week, is one of the more unexpected deciders.