Manchester: England came from behind to win the third Test match against West Indies in Manchester and take the series 2-1.
While both teams had their moments, there were also some areas of their game that were exposed during the course of the series. Here are some takeaways for both teams:
The future of cricket
We got a glimpse of how cricket could be in the near future as England set up a bio bubble successfully. Even without crowds and the saliva ban, the cricket in itself was entertaining with both teams putting up a good show. The return of cricket in a bio-secure environment after 117 days was a big success experiment and should be the way forward for teams looking to host matches in the near future. Most importantly, the quality of cricket was not affected despite the lack of crowds.
England's Test opening pair seems sorted
England had shuffled between quite a few openers in the period after Alastair Cook's retirement. In Dom Sibley and Rory Burns, they seem to have identified the perfect pair. Sibley and Burns made 226 and 234 runs respectively, finishing as the second and third highest run-scorers in the series. Burns also became the first England opener aside from Cook since 2012 to make 1000 Test runs. Burns and Sibley put on two fifty-plus partnerships, converting one of those into a century stand.
West Indies and their batting concerns
While West Indies put up a decent performance in the series, their batting seemed to fall behind England's a lot of times. Aside from Jermaine Blackwood and Shamarh Brooks, the other batsmen did not live up to the billing and the batting unit suffered. Shai Hope made just 105 runs in the series at an average of 17.5 while Kraigg Brathwaite, Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich also averaged in the 20s.
Blackwood and Brooks finished as the highest run-scorers for West Indies in the series while Roston Chase, West Indies' Player of the Series, also showed good resilience with the bat and bowled like a front-line spinner should. These three batsmen should be the pillars of West Indies' Test middle-order in the future.
England's fast bowling depth
England were left to choose their pace bowling attack from a group that had James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Sam Curran aside from Ben Stokes. They also had rookie pacer Ollie Robinson in the squad at one point. 50 of the 55 wickets England took in the series came from their pace bowlers. The pace attack averaged 21.34 in the series compared to West Indies' 35.31.
England's fast bowling stock seems pretty impressive and it augurs well for them in the ongoing World Test Championship. Stuart Broad, who completed 500 Test wickets during the series, finished as the top wicket-taker with 16 wickets even though he was dropped for the first Test. By rotating their seamers in the three matches, England seem to have identified their best attack at home by the final Test.
Ben Stokes does it again
Ending the series with 363 runs at an average of 90.75 and nine wickets at 16.33, Ben Stokes showed that he is a world-class Test player. Stokes overtook Jason Holder to become no.1 in the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for all-rounders and put up a stunning show with his impactful performances. His 356-ball 176 from the middle-order and 57-ball 78 as an opener in the second Test showcased his range as a batsman. He also paved way for England's comeback in the series with the ball as he broke a vital partnership on day 5 of the second Test. Stokes' form, continuing from a stellar year in 2019, shows that despite the massive break between matches, the all-rounder is still on a purple patch.