Series don't come much tougher than travelling to England to face on-song pace duo Stuart Broad and James Anderson. That was the assessment of Phil Simmons, West Indies' head coach, after his side were bundled out for 197 in their first innings at Emirates Old Trafford and then went two wickets down early in their second, needing to bat out the rest of the match to retain the Wisden Trophy.
"Wherever you go it's going to be tough, in England's it's going to be toughest with two bowlers, one there in 600, one there in 500 wickets and it's going to make things hard," Simmons said after play on the third day of the deciding Test, with his side still trailing by 388 runs.
"On this wicket, we showed in the first innings of the second Test that... we were doing what was necessary, we were getting scores, we got a few fifties, but you've got to carry on, and these guys keep coming and they're relentless. So I think it's, it's one of the most difficult places to bat, especially against these two experienced bowlers."
Broad already has eight wickets for the match, having taken 6 for 31 in West Indies' first innings before dismissing struggling opener John Campbell and nightwatchman Kemar Roach to put them at 10 for 2 in their second and leave himself on 499 Test wickets.
Broad and Anderson started the day with two wickets apiece before Broad's 4 for 14 in four overs halted West Indies shortly after they had avoided the follow-on. Anderson, playing his 153rd Test, now has 589 scalps to his name.
With the ball only six overs old, the duo are likely to feature heavily when play resumes with England seeking eight more wickets to win the match and reclaim the Wisden Trophy after levelling the series with victory in the second Test.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite, unbeaten alongside Hope at the close, made 65 in the first Test and 75 in the second, while Shamarh Brooks made twin scores in the 60s last week. But the need to convert such starts into big innings is now vital if West Indies have any chance of holding out for a draw and retaining the trophy.
"Yes, we're struggling where the runs are concerned, and we've struggled since after the second innings of the second Test, but all in all, a lot of work has been done," Simmons said. "Guys are going to go home on empty but that's what you want at the end of a series - they've given their all, and if all isn't good enough, you take that, and you work out how you get better.
"We haven't got any centuries in this series so I'm always going to be putting pressure on them to go there. The wicket is still a good wicket to bat on so they have to set themselves targets of getting a big hundred on this wicket. Tomorrow is only the fourth day so we have a lot of time so we've got to show that determination to get big scores."
Rain is expected to wipe out much of Monday, which would still leave England time to bowl their opponents out on the final day, but it would also see West Indies needing to resist for a far shorter period.
It may also give Shane Dowrich some extra recovery time after he was hit in the face by a Shannon Gabriel delivery which deflected off Dowrich's wicketkeeping glove.
Dowrich has also been struggling with the bat, having made 61 and 20 in the first Test and a pair in the second before he was out for 37 on Sunday, Broad's last first-innings victim. At this stage he has not looked like needing to call upon a concussion substitute to bat in his place, although Simmons said team medical staff would "see how he wakes up in the morning".
"He was lucky that it came on to the glove first," Simmons said. "He has a little cut on the lip but no damage to the teeth or anything like that, just a cut and it's been sealed up by the doctor. So I guess now all he has is a big headache."
Simmons praised fast bowlers Gabriel and Kemar Roach who, along with Jason Holder and spinner Roston Chase have toiled hard through all three Tests.
Gabriel, originally in the touring party as a reserve following ankle surgery, has looked particularly tired and stiff at times, often leaving the field for physio treatment and rest, but Simmons defended his team selections, saying all were fit to play.
"It's tough, it's been tough going into this third back-to-back Test," Simmons said. "I'm so appreciative and excited for the work that the bowlers have put in, especially the two quicks who played in all three Test matches and have given us everything they have. I'll always raise a glass for them.
"The fast bowlers especially have done a lot of work but I didn't see any of them faltering in this game. The two fast bowlers did their job."