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England vs Windies – through the years


England vs Windies – through the years

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THE CARIBBEAN hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for England cricket teams over the years.

Before this 2015 three-match series, which began in Antigua on Monday, the teams had played 148 Tests with the West Indies still enjoying a better win-loss record.

The Windies have won 53 matches and lost 45, with the other 50 ending in draws.

But England’s record is even less impressive in the Caribbean where they have only won 13 of 65 Tests while losing 24 and drawing 28.

In their maiden series in the Caribbean in 1930, England, under the captaincy of the Honourable Frederick Calthorpe, played to a 1-1 draw over four Tests. Barbadian ELG “Teddy” Hoad led the Windies in the drawn first Test at Kensington Oval, marked by Clifford Roach’s maiden century for the West Indies and George Headley’s second innings 176.

England won the second Test by 167 runs at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad when Trinidadian Nelson Betancourt skippered the West Indies in his only Test.

Guyanese Maurice Fernandes became the third West Indies captain of the series and he led the side to a series-equalling 289-run victory at Bourda.

In that match, Roach got the team’s first double century and Headley logged centuries in both innings, while Learie Constantine took nine wickets in the match.

Keeping with the policy of a new captain from each home territory, Jamaican Robert Karl Nunes took over in the timeless drawn fourth Test at Sabina Park, which lasted nine playing days.

England opener Andy Sandham made 325 and Headley hit 223 after the West Indies were 408 for five, chasing a victory target of 836 runs when the match was called off by mutual agreement.

Headley made three hundreds and a double century win amassing 703 runs at an average of 87.87, while E.H. Hendren tallied 693 runs at a phenomenal average of 115.50 for England.

England’s next two visits saw the West Indies winning by 2-1 and 2-0 margins in a four-match series in 1935 under George Grant’s leadership, and in 1948 under Headley, Gerry Gomez, John Goddard, respectively.

The Englishmen returned in 1954 under Len Hutton and drew a five-match series 2-2 with the Jeffrey Stollmeyer-led West Indians. Hutton scored 677 runs (average: 96.71) for England while Sir Clyde Walcott amassed 698 runs (average: 87.87) with three centuries.

It was not until 1960 that England, under Colin Cowdrey’s leadership, won their first series in the Caribbean, securing a 1-0 triumph in a five-match rubber over Gerry Alexander’s side.

England repeated that 1-0 success on the 1968 trip to take the first hold on the Wisden Trophy with seamer John Snow capturing 27 wickets at an average of 18.66 in four Tests. Garry (545) and Rohan Kanhai (535) led the Windies’ batting.

The five-match 1974 series was drawn 1-1 with Kanhai leading the West Indies and Mike Denness skippering England. Tony Greig had a good series with the ball, taking 24 wickets at 22.62 while Denis Amiss amassed 663 runs (average: 82.87) with three centuries.

That series will long be remembered for Lawrence Rowe’s career-best 302 masterpiece before a sell-out crowd at Kensington Oval. Rowe ended with 616 runs from seven innings at an average of 88.00, counting two more centuries in the series.  

The West Indies, under the leadership of Viv Richards, triumphed 2-0 over Ian Botham’s side in the four-match 1981 rubber with Colin Croft taking 24 wickets at an average of 18.95.

History was created on England’s next tour of the Caribbean in 1986 with Richards’ all-conquering team handing David Gower’s side a humiliating 5-0 whitewash. The imposing Joel “Big Bird” Garner and his Barbadian compatriot Malcolm Marshall snared 27 wickets at 16.14 and 17.85 respectively.

But the 1990 four-Test series was much closer with the West Indies narrowly winning 2-1 before Courtney Walsh’s team prevailed 3-1 over Mike Atherton’s team in 1994.

This series was highlighted by Brian Lara’s superlative 375 when he broke Sobers’ 36-year-old highest Test score of 365 not out at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Lara’s overall aggregate was 798 runs at an average of 99.75 while Curtly Ambrose bagged 26 wickets at 19.96 each.

In 1998, the West Indies were again victorious by a 3-1 margin over six Tests with Lara at the helm over Atherton’s visiting Englishmen. Ambrose was the chief wrecker, taking 30 wickets at a mere 14.26 runs apiece.  

However, the pendulum swung back to England in 2004 when the Michael Vaughan-led unit thrashed the Windies 3-0 in a four-Test series. Fast bowler Steve Harmison claimed 23 wickets at 14.86 runs apiece. Lara prevented a clean sweep by regaining his world record from Australian Matthew Hayden, who had made 380, with the highest ever individual Test score of 400 not out at the ARG.

Chris Gayle’s outfit won a hard-fought five-Test series 1-0 in 2009 over Andrew Strauss’ side to regain the Wisden Trophy. Ramnaresh Sarwan fashioned a career-best 291 at Kensington and added two more centuries to end the series with 626 runs at 104.33.

Strauss scored 541 runs, embellished by three centuries in that series at an average of 67.62.

This may be the last series against England for long-serving middle order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The durable left-hander has played the most Tests – 78 – in the Caribbean and his aggregate of 6095 at an average of 60.95 in home conditions is second only to Lara, who scored 6217 runs in 65 Tests at an average of 58.65.

Chanderpaul also has the most Test centuries – 19 – in the West Indies with Lara second with 17.

England’s Test captain Alastair Cook started the series with 8423 runs in 109 Tests at an average of 46.02 with 25 centuries. Only Graham Gooch (8900 runs in 118 Tests) and Alec Stewart (8463 in 133 Tests) have scored more runs than Cook in England’s Test cricket history.

Fast bowler James Anderson, who marked his 100th Test appearance in the opening Test which started on Monday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, should become England’s leading Test wicket-taker.

He started the series with 380 wickets (average: 29.72). just three away from Botham’s 383 at 28.40 in 102 Tests.