Windies doing England an Ashes disservice

20 August 2017
Our voices

A thumping win at Edgbaston may boost England egos but their final Test series before the Ashes is papering over cracks

About the Writer:

Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.

England's innings victory against the West Indies inside three days may have been good for their confidence ahead of the Ashes but in terms of preparation it will have little relevance come the first Test at the Gabba in little over two months' time.

This really was horrible; the tourists losing 19 wickets in a day to slump to an embarrassing, humiliating defeat that can only cheapen the brand of Test cricket.

Match report, highlights: England thrash Windies as 19 wickets fall

What joy is there in wins such as this? It was akin to a schoolboy football team taking on Real Madrid – a complete non-contest that means the interest levels for the final two Tests of this series at Headingley and Lord's will dip to near non-existent.

Fancy dress fans have a ball at Edgbaston

This may have been the first day-night Test in the UK but in terms of a contest there was more than clear daylight between the quality of these teams.

Stuart Broad is entitled to feel extremely proud at leapfrogging Ian Botham into second on England's all-time list of Test wicket-takers, his tally now 384.

But the five he took on this third day in Birmingham were cheap.

Broad bests Beefy's mark to climb England ladder

You had to feel for West Indies captain Jason Holder, who tried to put a brave face on an innings-and-209-run defeat that represented his team's third worst against England in terms of runs.

"It is obviously very disappointing," he said. "We have to just believe. We have a few days off now. The idea is to use them wisely.

"It is not an impossible mission, we can't drop our heads on one game. The series is not lost. We just need to believe and come back stronger for the second Test match."

Holder, hampered by an inexperienced squad shorn of so many star players, could barely say anything else. But in reality, his team's two innings lasted little over six hours. Their total of 305 runs was just 62 more than Alastair Cook's 243 in England's only innings. It was pathetic.

Cook doubles up as Windies feel the heat

The manner of this mismatch moved Michael Vaughan, England's Ashes-winning captain in 2005, to remark: "Test cricket needs to bring in two divisions, where teams know they can get relegated or promoted, so the same standard of teams play against each other. What we have seen over the few days is not good for the game.

"A pink ball, day-night, it doesn't matter. The gulf in class is so wide, the product of the game isn't good to see."

Quick Single: Pink ball no issue for England's stars

Vaughan also raised a valid point in terms of what value this series will have for England ahead of the Ashes. Despite Joe Root's team recording a fine recent 3-1 series victory against South Africa, there are still questions over several positions.

Opener Mark Stoneman faced just six balls on debut before being dismissed for eight.

Cook, Root fire after new boys stumble

Tom Westley, battling to establish himself at No3, faced 18 deliveries in scoring eight in what was only his third Test. And Dawid Malan, another also only playing his third Test and needing to prove himself ahead of the Ashes, may have scored 65 from No5 but what real value do those runs have coming as they did against such poor opposition?

Quick Single: Malan shakes malaise to make Ashes case

"The same problems England had before the summer are still same problems they have now," said Vaughan.

"They have won four out five Tests but there are still problems at batting positions two, three and five. I think England will only bat twice more in this series, once at Headingley and once at Lords."

These are genuine concerns for England. Indeed, it is not overstating things to say they are likely to get more value out of the three tour matches they will have before the Ashes than these three Tests.

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21

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