Day Two of the final test ended with England well and truly on top
England’s long wait for a bowler capable of blistering pace is finally over, with Mark Wood breaching 94mph during an exhilarating career-best haul on day two of the third West Indies Test.
Wood was a bowler reborn on his return to Test cricket, regularly hitting breakneck speeds as he claimed five for 41 and had the home batsmen running for cover for the first time this series.
The 29-year-old did the heavy lifting as England bowled the Windies out for 154 and ended their best day of a torrid tour 142 ahead with Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns reaching 19 without loss.
Recalling the velocity and hostility of fellow Ashington boy Steve Harmison, whose career-best seven for 12 came in Jamaica 15 years ago, Wood finally proved he can be the man to bring true venom to the English attack.
The Durham seamer’s first 12 Tests, the last of which came nine months ago, brought 30 wickets at a modest average of 41.73, but over the course of 8.2 beguiling overs he began a new chapter that could propel him into a starring role in the summer’s World Cup/Ashes double header.
Fresh from reducing England to 277 all out, the West Indies innings began with a familiar template, John Campbell swinging from the hip and Kraigg Brathwaite dropping anchor.
For 18 overs it worked perfectly, with Campbell scoring 41 in a stand worth 57.
It was beginning to look like another demoralising day for England until spinner Moeen Ali struck with successive deliveries.
Brathwaite started the rot, shelving his trademark watchfulness and hoisting carelessly to deep midwicket. Campbell crossed while the shot was airborne and immediately fell lbw for 41.
After 21 overs patrolling the outfield it was time for Wood, coming in off a lengthened run-up after a technical tweak this winter. His first ball was brisk, his fourth England’s fastest of the series and his fifth whizzed to Rory Burns at gully having rattled Shai Hope’s edge at 92mph.
He greeted Roston Chase with something even nastier and the tall Barbadian could only fend it towards Burns, shunted across to fourth slip where he took an lightning catch. Wood’s beaming face told the story, as did the enthusiastic celebrations of his team-mates.
Given an over to work up to his hat-trick ball, Wood failed to make Shimron Hetmyer play but did clock in at a shade under 95mph – a rarely-reached height among English quicks.
His next visit started with a pair of edges – one over gully, one dropping short – and he brought an early end to the afternoon session when Hetmyer sprayed another short ball to Joe Root at slip.
Wood led the side off the field, his Test career reborn in a frantic half-hour. Any fears that his momentum would be dulled by the tea break soon disappeared, Darren Bravo nicking a full ball to Root after being forced back with a bumper.
Having lost six for 22, the Windies badly needed to rebuild after Wood exited the attack. That message did not reach Keemo Paul, stumped after sauntering out of his crease to Moeen.
Stuart Broad made a fine cameo, removing Shane Dowrich and taking a stunning one-handed catch as Moeen made Alzarri Joseph his fourth victim, but Root wisely allowed Wood to return in pursuit of a maiden five-for. It took him exactly two balls to finish off Shannon Gabriel with a yorker.
England had started the day poorly, failing to reach 300 for the sixth innings in a row despite resuming on 231 for four. Jos Buttler was first man down, bowled through the gate by Gabriel having failed to add to his overnight 67.
Kemar Roach did the bulk of the damage again, with four wickets taking his series haul to 17 at 12.05. He started with top-scorer Ben Stokes for 79 – wicketkeeper Dowrich sprinting to square leg and diving to grab a mis-hit pull – and scattered Jonny Bairstow’s stumps off the inside edge.
Roach wrapped things up by bouncing out Wood and Anderson in the same over, an image Wood possibly stored away from his later involvement.