WI vs Eng, 3rd Test, Grenada

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Joe Root in the firing line as England brace for inevitability of another series loss

Marcus Trescothick, England’s batting coach, insists that “one bad day” cannot undermine the progress that has been made in the Caribbean, as the squad faces up to the near-inevitability of humiliating defeat in the third and final Test in Grenada.
England claimed the upper hand in two drawn Tests at Antigua and Barbados, scoring five centuries in the process and a highest total of 507 for 9 in Bridgetown, after which Joe Root claimed the result as “another step forward” for a team that has won one Test out of 16 since February last year.

However, the veneer of England’s batting competence has been wiped out by their twin failings in St George’s, with the team disintegrating twice in the first helpful bowling conditions of series, and leading by just ten runs in the second innings with two wickets remaining.

Though the batting dominated the narrative, as England followed up their first-innings collapse of 90 for 8 by reaching 103 for 8 by stumps, their bowling was scarcely any less culpable for the situation the team found itself in.

With a notable lack of penetration from England’s seamers, West Indies themselves recovered from 128 for 7 to reach 297, thanks to Joshua Da Silva’s maiden Test hundred, and a tenth-wicket stand of 52 with Jayden Seales which spanned two hours of the morning session.

“It’s disappointing,” Trescothick said. “We’re obviously immensely disappointed about what’s happened over the course of the day. We’ve not got it right in both departments. We’ve been better than that over the course of the series but we’ve not turned up and made it work as we have done in previous games.

“They got more runs than we wanted them to, 28 ahead overnight and we wanted to knock them over as quickly as possible. Credit to Da Silva getting his first hundred and the other two dug in. We could have been better than what we’ve shown over the course of the day.”

England’s impending defeat follows hot on the heels of a humiliating Ashes campaign, in which only a tenth-wicket rearguard in Sydney prevented them from slumping to their third 5-0 whitewash in five visits. A raft of changes were made to the set-up in the aftermath, including the removal of Ashley Giles and Chris Silverwood as director of cricket and head coach, and the dropping of England’s veteran new-ball pairing, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

However, the one senior figure who received the backing of the interim director, Andrew Strauss, was Joe Root – who has been England’s Test captain since 2017, in which time he has gone on lead England in more Tests than anyone in history (64), and oversee more wins (27) and losses (25) than anyone else too.

However, Root’s captaincy has been under scrutiny for some time for its lack of imagination, while his dismissals for 0 and 5 to the medium pace of Kyle Mayers completed his least successful match with the bat since 2015, and gave the impression of a player who was at the end of this tether in the role.

Trescothick, however, came out in support of his beleaguered captain. “Everyone will regret what happened today because we haven’t been good enough as a team,” he said. “I don’t think you can pinpoint the captain and say it’s his fault. I think it’s the group.

“It’s easy, over the course of what we’ve had over the winter, to throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s all gone wrong, yes, we’ve had a really bad day and we’re really disappointed. We believe as coaching staff and players in that dressing room that we’ve made strides as a team over the course of the Test matches we’ve had. We’ll lick our wounds and try to come back from it but it’s been a really tough day and we’ve put the series in jeopardy.

“We haven’t performed to the level we’ve put our standards at in the previous two Tests. So we have to look at that and say ‘why have we put in that performance today? What is the reason?’ We’ll try to find a solution and try to make it better going forward. We’re working at those solutions. I think we’ve made improvements but it was disappointing today.”

The wider concern for England, however, is the culpability of the batting when the conditions are even moderately in favour of the bowlers. Before they turned their fortunes around in Antigua, England slumped to 48 for 4 on the first morning of the series, while in Grenada, their top seven have so far contributed 127 runs in 14 innings at an average of 9.07 – and 62 of those have come from Alex Lees at the top of the order.

“We’ve had one bad day today and over the course of the series this is the first bad day we’ve had,” Trescothick insisted. “Day one in Antigua we had a challenging day but fought back really well, Barbados we were really strong and controlled most of the game and today it’s gone wrong. It’s one bad day among 13 other days.”

“There’s no questioning their hunger, absolutely not,” he added. “I just think their decision-making over the course of the day has not been as good as in the previous couple of games. I don’t think we should ever question their hunger to play for their country and do well. We just have to make sure they make the right decisions at the right moments. That’s the crux of it and we haven’t done that well enough today.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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