England could not bounce back from a tumultuous start to the final match of the ODI series.
The weather included light rain and a delay, issues with performance, and ultimately, an exciting turn of events as the thick clouds parted over Bridgetown.
Following a disastrous start, England managed to regain their footing in the competition and entered the last four overs with a chance at victory. All they had to do was maintain their composure and discipline, but unfortunately, Gus Atkinson failed to do so at this crucial juncture.
In just a matter of minutes, England lost the game and the series as West Indies secured victory with four wickets to spare. The beginning of the over saw West Indies needing 33 runs from 24 balls, but thanks to Romario Shepherd’s powerful performance in the final overs, they were able to score the required nine runs in just 18 balls. This was a repeat of Shepherd’s impact in the first game, where he played a crucial role in securing West Indies’ win.
Jos Buttler, the captain of England, stated that in order to gain experience, one must provide opportunities for others to play and face challenging situations, referring to Atkinson. This series marks the beginning of a new journey for the team, with a majority of young players aside from himself. Despite the disappointment of losing the series, valuable lessons and experiences were gained by the team and there were strong performances throughout.
Ultimately, England was unable to bounce back from the tumultuous first 45 minutes, during which they lost five wickets and were left with a score of 49. Due to multiple interruptions from rain, the match was shortened from 100 overs to 74, but the final presentation and festivities did not take place until nearly nine hours later than the original start time. It became evident that an English victory was unlikely in these circumstances.
Phil Salt, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, and Buttler combined for a total of five runs. Out of the top six, only one player scored more than 17 runs. Their task was to establish a strong foundation, but instead they ended up in a difficult situation. Buttler commented, “When your score goes from 45 for two to 49 for five, it becomes a tough battle. However, our batting lineup runs deep, which gave us the opportunity to reach a decent score. At one point, it seemed like we had a chance to secure a win.”
Before the criticisms, comes the praise. In his first international match, 21-year-old Barbadian fast bowler Matthew Forde made a sensational and immediate impact by taking a wicket in three out of his first five overs, setting off England’s downfall.
Forde embodies the typical West Indian fast bowler – tall, slender, and speedy. He took advantage of the freshly uncovered pitch to his advantage. Salt was the first to be dismissed, sending the ball straight to mid-off where Alzarri Joseph made a successful catch. Crawley’s time at the crease was brief, lasting only four balls before being caught out by a rising delivery that touched his glove and looped to Alick Athenaze at second slip. Forde continued to pressure Will Jacks and finally got him out in his fifth over with another excellent delivery that resulted in an edge.
England was struggling at a score of 45 for three after nine overs into their innings. In the following over, they fell apart as Brook was run out and Buttler was caught on his first delivery to fine leg. Duckett and Livingstone were able to revive the innings with a partnership of 88 runs, with Duckett scoring the highest at 71. However, both players were dismissed due to poor shots in quick succession. Despite this, England’s lower order managed to push the score to 206 runs in 40 overs.
The West Indies innings was shortened by six overs due to another shower, reducing their target by 18 runs. Following the dismissal of Brandon King in the second over, Athenaze and Keacy Carty led the team to victory with a partnership of 76 runs for the second wicket. Carty, who had previously made two costly mistakes in the field, redeemed himself with a half-century. The home team was in control at the halfway mark of their innings with a score of 100 for three.
In a span of 14 overs of spin, England was able to take control from their opponents. Rehan Ahmed once again performed exceptionally, while Will Jacks stood out with his impressive performance of 3 wickets and only conceding 22 runs in his unbroken spell of seven overs.
At the conclusion of the match, Shepherd had 18 runs from 21 deliveries and needed to increase his speed; he then received seven more deliveries and scored an additional 23 runs. Joining him in celebration of their secured victory was Forde. “This is a realization of a dream,” Forde expressed. “It’s a special moment for me and I am grateful to all my teammates for making it happen. Being able to achieve this in front of my hometown crowd and with my parents present is truly heartwarming.”