Mark Wood answered West Indian pace with fearsome heat of his own as the fast-bowler claimed his first five-wicket innings haul in Tests and put England in control on the second day of the third and final Test in St Lucia on Sunday.
Playing his first match of the series, Wood tore through the heart of the home side’s batting to finish with five for 41 as the West Indies, replying to England’s first innings total of 277, crashed from 57 without loss in mid-afternoon to 154 all out an hour before the close of play.
A day which saw 16 wickets tumble ended with the tourists’ opening pair of Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings safely navigating ten overs to be 19 without loss at stumps, an overall lead of 142 going into day three as they seek the consolation of victory following heavy defeats in the first two matches.
Wood’s raw speed unsettled the West Indies middle-order batsmen after Moeen Ali ended another half-century opening partnership by accounting for stand-in captain Kraigg Brathwaite and partner John Campbell off consecutive deliveries.
Ali supported Wood’s hostility at the other end with subtle variations to finish with figures of four for 36.
However it was the introduction of Wood, who came on as the fourth bowler in the England armoury, which had the greatest impact on an eventful day.
He dismissed Shai Hope and Roston Chase off successive deliveries, both taken at gully, in his opening over and added the scalp of Shimron Hetmyer, caught at the second attempt by England captain Joe Root at first slip, off the final delivery of the afternoon session.
Darren Bravo perished shortly after the resumption to another Root slip catch and the delighted fast bowler returned after some resistance from Shane Dowrich to polish off the innings and complete the five-wicket haul when he yorked last man Shannon Gabriel.
‘Hard times with injury’
“It feels fantastic. All the hard times I’ve had with injury, and the self-doubt, today I feel like an England player,” said Wood. “I feel great with this new run-up. When you get a wicket in your first over the adrenaline starts pumping.”
At the start of the day England’s batsmen collapsed to the West Indian fast bowlers yet again, this time operating effectively with the second new ball, as the visitors lost six wickets for 45 runs to be dismissed just before lunch.
Wicketless on the first day when an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 124 between Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes lifted the tourists to 231 for four, Kemar Roach stole the spotlight in scything through the middle and lower order to finish with figures of four for 48. He now has 17 wickets in the series.
It was Shannon Gabriel though who made the first strike of the morning by bowling Jos Buttler on his overnight score of 67 with just one run added to the total.
That was the trigger for the slide and a reinvigorated Roach quickly got involved by dismissing Stokes for the innings top score of 79 when the attacking left-hander miscued an attempted pull and wicketkeeper Dowrich sprinted 30 metres to backward square-leg in clinging on to a superb diving catch.
Jonny Bairstow laboured for 33 deliveries in managing just two runs before Roach breached the right-hander’s defence while last man James Anderson proved easy prey for the rampant bowler, fending his second delivery into the waiting hands of Keemo Paul at third slip.