Another lost series and another without a single Test win. England’s capitulation in the glaring sun of Grenada leaves captain Joe Root’s record seriously tarnished.
Their third Test defeat at the hands of a brilliant West Indies by 10 wickets sees England fly home as 1-0 series losers, having drawn the opening two matches in the Caribbean.
But with this defeat, England are staring down the barrel of a seriously poor record of late. One win in 17 Test matches – 11 losses and five draws – and their last four completed series concluding with defeat is not a great start for the much promised rebuild.
Heading into this third Test after draws in Antigua and Barbados, few would have thought the West Indies – or England for that matter – would just need 29 balls on the fourth day to secure the series.
England and the West Indies traded first innings scores of 204 and 295 respectively before England yielded any chance of victory when they were all out for 120 just two hours into day four.
Kyle Mayers’s figures of 5-18 were sensational for the West Indies bowling attack and backed up a sublime not out century from wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva – both performances would have been widely hailed by many if it were a Josh Hazelwood or Tim Paine.
A potential lesson in appreciating superb individual displays from all cricketers may be in order.
It was left to captain Kraigg Brathwaite and his opening partner John Campbell on day four to score the 28 runs needed for victory.
Righting England wrongs
Root is England’s captain, though for how long only he will really know. No interim management structure will sack the Yorkshireman, but it is difficult to see him maintaining his position in the long term. Yet again however, he has been England’s chief run scorer – some things never seem to change.
If he is to remain captain of this side, who linger at the bottom of the nine-team World Test Championship, he will need to wait until the summer before he can inspire his side to right some wrongs.
Then it will be New Zealand, South Africa and a solitary Test against India all at home – England’s coaching vacancy should be filled by then.
In the hunt for a director of cricket and a new head coach, any potential interested party would surely demand a complete demolition and reconstruction of a broken system.
Medium pace strikes back
It’s ironic that the West Indies’ most potent attacking weapon, medium pace, has been the chief wicket taker in England’s domestic County Championship, too.
There will be players in the English system who are playing this kind of delivery consistently from next month, not that the current crop of talent shouldn’t be able to fend off such an attack.
And though it is no excuse for such a collapse in the final Test, it must be noted that England have won just two series in the West Indies since 1968, their last in 2004.
This series has been sobering for England, but more so for captain Joe Root – the 31-year-old has failed to inspire the much promised rebuild following a humilating Ashes series.
But in a historically difficult place for England to go and win, all plaudits should go to the West Indies for dominating the closing stages of the series defining third Test and maintaining their impressive record.