JUNE 14, 2019
Brief Scorecard: England 213 for 2 (Root 100*, Bairstow 45) beat West Indies 212 (Pooran 63, Wood 3-18, Archer 3-30) by eight wickets
Southampton, ENGLAND – For England’s World Cup campaign, the wheels are back on. After dominating Bangladesh in Cardiff, they dismantled the West Indies in Southampton, with an eight-wicket victory that was one of the most one-sided of the tournament so far. Suddenly the defeat to Pakistan feels more like a blip in the distance than a block to their progress.
If that was a day when every little detail went wrong for England, then this was a day when every detail went right. England won the toss and bowled, as they did at Trent Bridge, but this time they never let that first innings get away from them. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were both restrictive and destructive, with three wickets each. Even England’s errors – Chris Gayle and Andre Russell were both dropped in the deep early on – were hardly punished.
Moments that could have been disastrous, like Eoin Morgan limping off injured, only turned out to be a back spasm. Jason Roy went off feeling his hamstring too, but after this win England will feel more relaxed about Afghanistan and Sri Lanka next week.
The man of the day was Joe Root. It was his off-spin that ended the West Indies’ only promising stand, prompting the collapse from 144 for three to 212 all out. And then, drafted in as an opener, Root stroked a charming unbeaten 100 of England’s response. Root has spoken about the need to be himself in this tournament, not trying to out-hit England’s big hitters, and here he was nothing but his elegant self, recording his second immaculate century of the tournament. He barely took a risk as England strolled to victory, even putting on 104 with the promoted Chris Woakes, who came in at three. It was barely a ‘chase’ in the traditional sense of the word. England won in 33.1 overs, at 5.10pm. If they had needed to win the game in half that time, they could have done.
But then this game had not felt like a contest since England ran through the West Indies at the end of their innings. That collapse meant that England could begin their chase under no pressure, no jeopardy and no real tension. Even with Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan nursing injuries felt during the morning session. Even with the prospect of a collapse and a defeat – as unlikely as that might sound now – narrowing their path through to the semi-finals.
But that was barely apparent as Jonny Bairstow and Root tucked into the West Indian attack. Roy is a wonderful accelerator at the start of an innings, but in a dominant situation like this, Bairstow and Root could do it all themselves.
They took apart Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas with simple precision and ease. Nothing flashy, nothing risky, only high-level efficiency. Both men drove straight, drove through the covers and pulled. It only took 43 balls for the pair to reach their 50. Every subsequent boundary further sapped the tension out of the game until it became almost unrecognizable as a World Cup tie.
By the time England finally lost a wicket, it was Bairstow nearly bringing up his 50 with a six, only to fail to clear the fence. Brathwaite caught him on the boundary. And England, wanting to get some gentle batting practice into someone from the lower order, sent in Chris Woakes to partner Root.
From then on it was all very easy. Root brought up his 50 off 50 balls without breaking sweat and the West Indies bowling, strong at the start, started to disintegrate. Chris Gayle came on, bowling in cap and sunglasses, and England were in total control. The fact that Woakes holed out at the end barely made the slightest bit of difference.
The whole day was the total opposite of Trent Bridge last Monday. For a start, England got away with their mistakes. That day Mohammed Hafeez punished England for dropping him on 14. And when Mark Wood dropped Chris Gayle at third man today, when he was on 16, it felt as if they might be shooting themselves in the same foot. For one anxious half hour, Gayle started to punish England for their sloppiness, lifting a huge high six back over Woakes’ head.
This was as close as England got to a moment of jeopardy. But it was the intelligence of their change bowlers that got them out of it. Liam Plunkett got into Gayle’s head with his variations, and he could not resist hooking a slow bouncer all the way up to Jonny Bairstow at deep square leg. He had only made 36. That was a reprieve for England, and they had another in the next over, when Wood trapped Shai Hope in front, and he was given out only by DRS.
West Indies desperately needed a partnership to rebuild and they got one, their biggest of the tournament so far. Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, two punchy young left-handers, put on 89 for the fourth wicket. They not have managed it much better, settling in against Plunkett and Wood, cutting loose against the next two. Pooran cleared midwicket with a huge six off Adil Rashid. Hetmyer hit consecutive fours through mid-on off Ben Stokes.
As it was when England were batting, the answer was Root. Maybe the West Indies thought they could take advantage and hit him straight out of the attack, but they could not. Hetmyer hit one straight back into Root’s hands and then Jason Holder edged an easier catch back to the bowler.
England were on top, and playing with a confidence that things would continue to go their way. Chris Woakes dropped Andre Russell in the deep on three. And as Russell hit two huge sixes off Rashid a pessimist might have thought England would get punished this time. But this was England’s day in Southampton: Woakes got another chance when Russell was on 21, and he took it.
And with Russell went any hopes of West Indies recording a serious total. 188 for five became 212 all out as the quicks came back to clean up. Archer got Pooran, Sheldon Cottrell first ball and then Carlos Brathwaite, who did not even nick the ball but did not have a review to use. It was that sort of day for both sides.