West Indies v England, 2nd ODI, Antigua March 5, 2017

Root, Woakes avert collapse as England seal series


England 226 for 6 (Root 90*, Woakes 68*, Nurse 3-34) beat West Indies 225 (Mohammed 50, Plunkett 3-32) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Chris Woakes and Joe Root saw England home with an unbroken 102-run stand © Getty Images

England's limited-overs resurgence may have been built upon aggressive batting but it was, for the second game in succession, their calm under pressure that led them to victory in Antigua.

With their side reeling against a familiar foe - spin bowling - at 124 for 6 and having just lost 4 for 16, Joe Root and Chris Woakes produced an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 102 to take England to a four-wicket victory with 10 deliveries remaining. It means England have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, with only Thursday's game in Barbados to come.

This was a far from straightforward win, though. On a two-paced, slow surface that rendered it difficult to time the ball, the batsmen of both sides struggled to dominate.

And, had one of the edges offered by Root (on 0 and 51) gone to hand or Rovman Powell and Jason Holder been able to cling on to relatively straightforward chances offered by Woakes on 42 and 58, things might have been different. But Root's first edge landed just in front of first slip and his second bisected slip and the keeper, and West Indies sorely missed their premier fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel, who was forced off the pitch with a side strain after three overs of his spell.

Jason Roy also enjoyed a moment of fortune. He survived a strong appeal for caught behind off Holder before he had scored. And though replays suggested a possible deviation of the ball and there was a sound on the stump microphone, the TV umpire concluded reasonably enough that he did not have enough evidence to overturn the on-field umpire's not-out decision. Had the host board or host broadcaster been able to come to a deal over the use of ultra-edge - understood to have been priced at £8,000 for this series - there might well have been a different result.

Gabriel's absence allowed Root and Woakes to play out the spinners, rotate the stroke and pick off the runs. The run-rate never rose close to five-an-over and, with Carlos Brathwaite unable to sustain the pressure of the senior bowlers, England simply had to wait for his return and the relatively easy runs that followed. Crucially, while Ashley Nurse and Devendra Bishoo claimed five wickets for 77 from their 20 overs combined, Brathwaite conceded 38 runs in four wicketless overs.

It was only Woakes' second List A 50 for England, with the first (an unbeaten innings of 95) coming in the dramatic tie against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge last year. He might not be the most pleasing or powerful allrounder in this side, but he has a wonderfully equable temperament and perhaps only Root has a better technique with the bat. His six off Carlos Brathwaite, driven over long-off, was one of the shots of the day.

Root, playing within himself, hit only three boundaries. But this was exactly the sort of mature contribution that his captain had provided in the first ODI and, in its way, a masterful demonstration of how to control a limited-overs chase.

All of which probably makes it sound like an exciting game. And it is true, it rose to a climax of sorts. But just as a rock fall might be dramatic, it doesn't make the thousands of years of erosion that lead to it great entertainment. This match was not played on a surface that encouraged attractive or, for long periods, entertaining cricket.

It may be widely presumed in these parts that hosting England is something close to a licence to print money. And it is true that somewhere approaching 8,000 travelling supporters made up the bulk of the crowd. But if Antigua continues to greet them with tired hotels, roads that make even the shortest journey laborious and wretched pitches that produce stultifying cricket, they may find they spend their money - and their holiday allowance - elsewhere. Nobody wants the homogenisation of pitches but, with the game fighting for its place among other leisure pursuits, we have to provide better entertainment than this to appeal to an audience beyond the die-hard cricket fan.

Still, England can't hide behind that as an excuse for their middle-order fragility. Instead they will accept that the accuracy and variations of the offspinner Nurse and the turn offered by the legspinner Bishoo illustrated flaws that never linger too far from the surface of English cricket: a weakness against spin bowling.

Roy ensured a bright start for England with a fluent half-century but it was his dismissal, caught at long-on, that precipitated a collapse that saw England lose five wickets for 37 runs in 10 overs. Morgan was bowled by one that appeared to skid on with the arm, before Jos Buttler edged a late cut - a poor choice of shot with a slip in place - and Moeen Ali was punished for playing back to one that drifted in, pitched and turned to hit the top of off stump. It was fine bowling by Nurse, who didn't concede a boundary in his 10 overs, in particular. He has looked the best spinner on either side in this series.

But with the specialist spinners bowled out, Holder had no choice but to turn to Carlos Brathwaite and his part-time spinners. Brathwaite's first over back conceded 10, including that six from Woakes, and the pressure eased never to return.

West Indies' batting was inadequate, though. While Kraigg Brathwaite and Jason Mohammed were able to add 72 for the fourth wicket, West Indies' power hitters failed once more as England's seamers varied their pace cunningly on a surface offering them enough assistance to render length bowling a reasonable tactic. West Indies were bowled out with 13 deliveries of their allocation unused and mustered only 15 fours in their entire innings.

While Root and Woakes attempted, for the most part, to keep the ball on the ground, five of West Indies' batsmen fell to catches lofted up to the cordon as a result of mis-timed strokes. Liam Plunkett, varying his pace cleverly, added three wickets to the four he took in the first ODI, while Steven Finn became the tenth England bowler to claim 100 ODI wickets. He is also the third quickest in terms of games (he has played 67 ODIs) behind Darren Gough and Stuart Broad, who both achieved the milestone in 62 ODIs.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England's tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel, specialists in hosted supporters' packages.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • michael on March 8, 2017, 0:11 GMT

    @thinks he knows it all but doesn't METMAN. So why does a golfer practice drives and putts over and over? Why do batsmen practice in the nets with the best playing for long hours? Why does Hamilton go around and around a circuit before the race? Etc. There is something called muscle memory (bet you never knew about this) and getting the brain to respond in a specific way by repetition. The training would help gain experience with all types of balls including how to judge in swirling winds. Just look at Darren Bravo. When he came on the scene he was an awful catcher who the captain tried to hide on the field, After work on him he is now one of the better catchers WI have. Go do your research and try hard to make sense with your next post although this will be difficult working from a vacuum. Go also research reflex times and come back with why you say 0.4 sec in 1.0 sec is negligible. I could do with a good laugh at your rubbish.

  • Michael on March 7, 2017, 15:34 GMT

    @mngc1.....you teach CHILDREN how to hold their hands in order for the ball to remain in their hands.Big hard back men know that from the time they started to play cricket. You don't tell people that they have to wrap their fingers around the ball to prevent it from dropping out that is a NATURAL REFLEX ACTION man..you hold on to something if you don't want it to fall out...even BABIES hold on to things that they don't want to drop and you telling me that somebody told babies to do that. A ball coming at your face in the slips and someone got to tell you that you have to take it with palms facing out and not with cup hands ? man you like you trying hard for that Noble Prize jack

  • michael on March 7, 2017, 15:10 GMT

    Many times I stated that bowlers come under pressure for not taking wickets but fieldsmen who drop their catches go unpunished. In this case both Carlos and Holder have taken no wickets. Brathwaite had 3 dropped by Rovman Powell, Holder and Hope/K Powell. Holder dropped a return catch and another by Carlos. If those catches were taken, would the results have been different? A couple of months ago I posted that the way to get fast improvements would be to focus on fielding and METMAN attacked me with something like "how do you to teach hard backed men to catch". There were additional catches dropped and 6 (or more) in 2 matches is not a characteristic of a winning side.

  • michael on March 7, 2017, 12:18 GMT

    When Holder and Carlos came on the scene, they showed raw talent that could emerge as superstars. When they were made captains I blogged that this additional burden should not be placed on them so quickly. They should fine tune their batting and bowling skills to become fixtures on the team and then made captains. Many on this forum called me insular. WICB in their haste to be vindictive to certain players not in their good books continued. Look at where they have reached now with their batting and bowling gone to the dogs and many are calling for their heads. They are only on the teams as captains. Quite the opposite for Sammy who lost the captaincy and retired from international cricket. He gave up his bowling and focused on batting and captaincy. He literally soared in the recent PSL with such confidence in his batting and lifted his team with his captaincy. One would not have recognized him from a year ago. Time to drop Holder and Carlos as captains and redevelop their skills.

  • Michael on March 7, 2017, 10:02 GMT

    @Mekkayel.....IN PRINCIPLE mate...and because Kraiggs' highest score is 70 against Zimbabwe are you telling me that he cannot score more against a stronger team ? What is better for a team ? a batsman with a SR in the 90s scoring 21 or a batsman with a SR in the 60s scoring 42. By now you should have realized that SR do not count IF you are not making MEANINGFUL contributions.Do you know that a tailender can score 6 off the last ball and end up with a SR of 600 ? are you telling me therefore that he should bat at #3 for the next match?

  • Mamunur on March 7, 2017, 2:49 GMT

    Woakes, an all rounder in the making? At least, I am convinced now. With him and Stokes around England might be the world-beaters... becoming that they miss only one thing, it is: one or two strike bowlers.

  • michael on March 6, 2017, 23:49 GMT

    I wish to add in form Sammy to the list of those who can score SR 130+. Smith and Samuels can also do it at times. Also none are in the squad.

  • Jon on March 6, 2017, 23:43 GMT

    @herath - yeah a lot of confidence after just getting blanked against South Africa, losing 4-1 at home against the Aussies and getting blanked in England too. Confidence is at an all time high indeed!

  • michael on March 6, 2017, 23:40 GMT

    @metman. Kraigg making 75 would mean eating up 125 balls. therefore the rest of batsmen would have to make 225 in 175 balls ie a constant / average SR of 130. It would be higher if Hope gets to bat. In the WI the batsmen who can do that are Gayle, Pollard, Russell and now Narine (consistent SR 181 in recent PSL), none of whom are on the team. So tell us again who will make the 225 and at what rate each of them would score? @mekkayel. It occurred to me that Hope's missed chances of 33 % makes him the worst WI keeper in recent history. Baugh, Thomas, Ramdin and even Dowrich (presently 22%) are all better than him.

  • Earl on March 6, 2017, 21:56 GMT

    The problem lies with selecting the right players.The spinners including Kraigg were better that Holder and Carlos.maybe the WI selectors do not watch the opposition playing other teams.England against Sri Lanka,Bangladesh and against the President X1 recently.The bowlers that caused the most problems and took the most wickets were spinners.Hence why is one of the most productive spinner not in the team.Cornwall has been just that and has produced with the bat.Carlos has done nothing since hammering Stokes.He was unfortunate to have Morgan dropped,but they claim that Cornwall is a liability in the field,the chairman of selectors was for many years and kept playing.Kraigg if he is playing has to rotate the strike and look for twos instead of blocking as many balls as he does.Bishoo,Nurse and Cornwall will cause England problems

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