England skipper Joe Root defended his decision to declare his side’s second innings after ice-cool West Indies produced a nerveless run-chase to claim a thrilling five-wicket triumph at Headingley.
Chasing a potentially treacherous target of 322, West Indies were calmness personified as Shai Hope led their perfectly-executed victory march with a stunning and unbeaten knock of 118.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite had earlier struck 95, while Jermaine Blackwood hit a priceless 41 as West Indies recorded their first Test win on English soil in 17 years. The tourists also levelled the three-matches series at 1-1.
Defeat propelled the decision of Root, in his sixth Test as captain, to declare on Monday evening under the spotlight, although the Yorkshireman insists he is unlikely to curb his attacking tendencies as a consequence.
“In hindsight, it is easy to say the decision might not have been timed right but I thought it was a positive thing to do,” said Root, who declared with England 490-8 in their second innings.
“We are a side that wants to win Tests. We got ourselves in a position to do that but credit to West Indies, they played really well and made it difficult to get on top of them and create much pressure against them.
“Looking at it, no I don’t think it will [change my approach to captaincy]. We were in a position to win the game.
“It was a fifth-day wicket. We had Jimmy and Broady, who have taken nearly 900 Test wickets between them, and with the rest of the bowlers we have the ability. On a fifth-day pitch I thought we had a great opportunity.”
West Indies counterpart Jason Holder, meanwhile, praised the fortitude of his team after they showed the strength of character to recover from losing the first Test at Edgbaston by an innings and 209 runs inside three days.
“It feels good, especially after the game at Edgbaston. It was a tough loss. A lot of teams would have crumbled and not given England the fight we gave them,” said Holder.
“Credit to every member of the team. I said I backed them to come back and what a way to do it. I can’t fault them. Everybody gave an effort throughout the Test. It did not always go our way but it did not deter everyone giving effort.”
Hope, 23, arrived in Leeds with a Test average of only 18 after 11 matches but leaves having become the first player in history in score a century in each innings of a first-class fixture at Headingley.
Fittingly, Hope hit the winning runs, although Brathwaite played his part too after being handed a reprieve by former England skipper Alastair Cook, who dropped the 24-year-old while he was on just four.