ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (AFP) — England ended a wait of two-and-a-half years and 10 matches for Test success away from home with a nine-wicket win over the West Indies in the second Test yesterday.
Set a modest target of 143 after the home side folded for 307 in their second innings just after lunch, Gary Ballance (81 not out) and skipper Alastair Cook (59 not out) eased to the target with an unbroken 142-run second-wicket partnership after Jonathan Trott fell without scoring to Shannon Gabriel.
This first away win, since a series-clinching seven-wicket triumph over India in Kolkata in December 2012, means that England have retained the Wisden Trophy — the symbol of supremacy in Test series between the two nations since 1963 — going into the final Test in Barbados starting next Friday.
James Anderson triggered a collapse which saw the home side lose eight wickets for 83 runs after they resumed in the comfortable position of 202 for two, with opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite on 101 and first innings century-maker Marlon Samuels at the crease.
His country’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, Anderson made full use of the second new ball in the morning session removing Brathwaite for 116 with a sharp lifter that was fended to gully.
He then added the other key wickets of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, via an excellent reflex action taken by Cook at first slip on the rebound from second slip fielder Ian Bell, and Marlon Samuels to finish with the excellent figures of four for 43 off 22 overs.
He also held two catches at mid-off and ran out Jason Holder, the man whose maiden first-class century denied England victory in the first Test in Antigua a week earlier, with a direct hit of the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
That dismissal effectively ended any realistic chance the West Indies had of saving the match and it was left to off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali to finish off the innings by taking the last three wickets.
There was one ray of hope for the Caribbean side when England started their run-chase as Trott played on to Gabriel.
However, Cook and Ballance hardly appeared troubled against a West Indies team fast running out of enthusiasm on another afternoon of blistering sunshine.
Injury was added to insult for the hosts when Holder had to be stretchered off the field in the midst of his second over after turning over his left ankle badly at the point of delivery.
The manner in which he was grimacing in pain throughout the experience now raises questions about his chances of being fit for the third and final Test starting in his native Barbados next Friday.
Ballance became the third-fastest England batsman to 1,000 runs in Test cricket as the target got closer, and also enjoyed another reprieve via the embarrassed local hero Smith at second slip off Samuels once again.