Windies go in to the third Test against England at Lord’s on Thursday (September 7) in confident mood according to their Head Coach, Stuart Law.
Following a chastening three day defeat at Edgbaston in the first match of the series, the Windies remarkably turned the tables on England by defeating them by five wickets at Headingley to set up the final match at Lord’s as a series decider. It was one of the great Test comebacks in Leeds; unexpected but brilliantly executed by a Windies team determined to right the wrongs of the previous match in Birmingham.
The tourists’ victory at Headingley was built on the foundations of some brilliant batting from Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope, who made twin centuries in the match, and some good, honest, hard work with the ball from Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder. It was, in the end, a comfortable victory for the tourists, which could have been even easier had they not shelled a number of catches.
“I thought guys like Chris Woakes, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled the house down at Headingley,” said Law. “And we had answers to them. It’s not the fact that they under-estimated us: we actually stood up and competed against some high-quality batting and bowling, so credit where credit’s due.”
It is a performance that Law hopes will instil confidence in his men ahead of the match at Lord’s, something that may have been missing from this young and inexperienced Windies squad after their poor performance at Edgbaston. “There’s probably a couple that doubted their ability to cope at this level,” he said. “But I hope those doubts are now well and truly put to bed and they can start flourishing.”
The performance of Hope, who had made one half-century in his previous eleven Test matches, was a key feature of Windies’ victory. “I remember sitting down next to him in the dressing room before the last day and said ‘Look, the plan is we’ll bat to Tea, see where we are and if we’ve got wickets we’ll work out if we’re going to have a go or not’,” Law said.
“He looked at me and I said ‘What’s wrong with that?’ He looked at me again, shook his head and shrugged his shoulders and I said ‘Okay, what’s your plan?’ ‘We’re going to win’, he said. That’s God’s honest truth. And he went out and won the game.”
Before the series, Law had given an interview to the ECB’s official programme and said that he believed Hope had the potential to become one of the best players in the world. Two matches in, Windies’ coach hasn’t changed that view. “He’s a rock,” Law said of Hope. “He’s a guy with a lot of talent who looks very good at the crease. We hadn’t seen that in international cricket, but Headingley showcased his talent.
“The challenge for Shai is to stay fit and healthy. If he does that, with the drive he’s got and the mental toughness and will to work, that will just make him better and better. He’s pretty good now, but he’s got the potential to be great.”