Jason Holder, West Indies’ captain, has challenged his players to “look themselves in the mirror” and find a way to fight back into the series, after being dealt a humiliating innings-and-209-run defeat in the first Investec Test at Edgbaston.
West Indies lost 19 wickets in a single day, six of them in the final session under the floodlights, to lose a historic pink-ball contest inside three days, and now they face a massive challenge to recover their poise ahead of Friday’s second Test at Headingley.
“It’s obviously very disappointing, we didn’t show enough fight,” Holder said after the match. “We were totally outplayed.
“We’ve got to just believe, we have a few days off now, we have to use them wisely. We’ll sit and talk, and formulate some plans about how we are going to go, but it’s not impossible [to come back]. It’s just one game, the series is not lost, we have believe, regroup, and come back strongly.”
Holder’s troubles, however, extend across every facet of West Indies’ game. Neither of their innings totals (168 and 137) came close to matching the individual contribution of England’s top-scorer, Alastair Cook (243), while Stuart Broad’s feat of overtaking Ian Botham’s Test wickets tally of 383 underlined the yawning gulf in experience between England and their opponents.
“There’s inexperience in the side but we have to be professional and get over that,” said Holder. “I thought we were in the game for a session, but Cook and [Joe] Root put on a really good partnership and we were struggling in the end. We’re a young side with nothing to lose, we just have to believe and come back strongly.”
The early finish to the Test does at least give West Indies the best part of a week to get over such a bruising defeat, but while Holder said that the coaching staff would do their best to formulate some plans to stage a comeback, it was up to the individual players to raise their games.
“We can’t dwell on it, we have to critique each performance of each player, and look at ways we can move forward. But each player has to look himself in the mirror and see where they can improve.”
Holder, whose own performance was well below the spirited standards that he has so far set in his Test career, singled out the efforts of Jermaine Blackwood and Kemar Roach for particular praise. Blackwood, who made a century against England in their last Test series in the Caribbean in 2015, top-scored with 79 not out in the first innings, having been recalled to the team for the first time since last year’s tour of the UAE.
And Roach, whose first-morning extraction of Mark Stoneman was as good a delivery as was bowled all match, fought a lone battle to lift the standards of a seam attack that could yet be reinforced by a recall for Shannon Gabriel at Headingley next week.
“I was really appreciative of the way Blackwood played,” Holder said. “He was his normal self after coming back into Test cricket. I want to keep encouraging him to be selective but play his natural game. And I thought Kemar Roach toiled and bowled well, he gave a tremendous effort every time I called on him.”
“Not an easy job but it’s not impossible,” he said of captaining West Indies. “We’ve got to stay in the game and stay in the fight. Only a couple of Tests ago, England were beaten by South Africa, and we’ve competed really well in the last few Tests we’ve played. We beat Pakistan [at Sharjah in 2016], and they beat England here last year. So it’s important for us to stay with it, and come back strongly.”