England’s West Indies Tour Ends with Second Series Defeat: A Disappointing Year-End

Shai Hope’s last-ball dismissal of Chris Woakes ended any chance of England reclaiming the lead from West Indies in the 2023 series, and it was fitting given the manner in which they won. In a match that saw 119 sixes in the first innings, West Indies had 63 to their name compared to England’s 56, and that advantage held up in a low-scoring and scrappy series decider. West Indies had seven sixes compared to England’s five – a crucial 12-run edge in an innings-and-change chase of 133.

Whatever the surface in these five matches, one thing has stayed the same: the team that hit the most sixes has won every single one. It’s a stark reminder of how, no matter the pitch, small Caribbean grounds tend to reward six-homers more than anyone else. And that’s a lesson England will need to keep in mind when they travel to the West Indies next month, ahead of June’s T20 World Cup.

For all the glitz and glamour of England’s successive wins over the past couple of days, a 4-wicket drubbing – following on from their 3-1 T20 whitewash and 2-1 ODI whitewash in the Caribbean – is in stark contrast to the season England have had. A year which began with England as world champions in both formats ended with them nursing their 20th whitewash in white-ball cricket, in contrast to their 15 wins.

But, while this tour will be remembered for Phil Salt’s brilliance, and exciting moments from others in the new white ball generation, England’s chances of winning at Tarouba were once again down to Rashid. The 35-year-old, who is now the highest-ranked bowler in the world in T20, bowled four more superb overs, mixing control and gentle pace to take 2 for 21 at the end of a brilliant series. 

Sherfane Rutherford got lucky with a googly from Rashid, but his worst ball – a full toss – fooled Johnson Charles.

When Rashid caught Andre Russell at short third man with a diving catch on the second ball of his over, England looked on the verge of pulling off a remarkable feat. Sam Curran bowled just two overs in the penultimate over and caught Andre Russell at long on, while Chris Woakes was left to defend nine overs in the tour’s penultimate over. Hope, whose consistency and improved form had already won the ODI series, now sealed the T20 triumph with an unbeaten 43.

England were defending a modest total of 133, and they showed resilience and skill in the field. It was Jos Buttler who led the way, but in an unconventional fashion: he was in the middle of the field, not behind it, after Salt had let him keep the gloves. This tactic takes one-third off Buttler’s extraordinary workload, but the captain was faced with a new challenge.

England were penalised twice for failing to bowl the initial over of the new ball. If they made the same mistake again, they would be the first international side to be penalised by five runs for their carelessness.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most spin-fuelled nations in T20 cricket, boasting two of the best slow bowlers the game has ever seen in India’s two most prolific bowlers in the format: Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree. After Tuesday’s match in Trinidad and Tobago, which saw 459 runs scored at 13 runs per over, the pitch now offers a combination of slow bounce that keeps the ball out of the line and plenty of spin.

With the help of such assistance, Motie delivered an exquisite delivery to Salt. Drifting into the batsman, Motie gripped and twisted to beat the batsman’s bat. Motie’s joy, as he wheeled away in delight, spoke both for the delivery and for the player it had taken out. Salt, who had scored centuries in each of the previous two matches, adapted to the different conditions by cruising to 38 as he top-scored for the third match in a row.

His team-mates, however, did not show the same level of consistency. Motie and Hosein took 5 for 44 from eight overs, who were used exclusively out of the Northern End, England right-handers to hit into the wind when playing to the leg side.

The most significant was the last over. With England at 120 for 5 and four overs to go, they were on course for a target of 160; Livingstone, uncharacteristically quiet in his 28, was ready to strike. Motie fooled him with a ball that stuck in the crease and he only took one wicket from that over. England’s innings then degenerated into a series of bad shots, their downfall hastened by Andre Russell’s vicious yorker that looped around the wicket and caught Chris Woakes in the deep. England added just 12 in the last four overs; Sum Curran top edge was caught in the deep and they were bowled with three deliveries left.

It meant that England were perhaps 25 runs off par and, in the end, West Indies followed up their failure to make it to the World Cup with another series win over England in the Caribbean. Since the start of 2022, they have now triumphed in four series against England: once each in Tests and One Day Internationals (ODIs) and now twice each in T20Is.