England finally toured in the Caribbean early last year, and it set the tone at Kensington Oval for what followed in the Series. There were 3 Test matches followed by 5 ODIs and 3 T20s. Barbados shared the visitors with Grenada, Antigua, St Lucia, and St Kitts, and it started with an epic match at the Oval. The Barmy Army was in song as Barbados is often referred to as Little England. Certainly the visitors loved the ambience and took advantage of the beautiful sunshine in stark contrast to wintery conditions in the UK. Some pundits warned West Indies were going to get thrashed prior to the match, but as we often think, cricket is an amazing game. And once again it proved to be. Against all odds, Jason Holder’s team were up for it, and he led from the front. England played 3 preliminary matches at the Three Ws at Cave Hill, but the West Indies showed little of their cards with shadow teams. John Charles made his Test debut and when the West Indies won the toss, Holder elected to bat. It didn’t appear at the time that anything undue was about to happen, but we were all mistaken. West Indies reached 289, largely from Shimron Hetmyer (81), and as expected James Anderson (5 for 46) proved to be a thorn in the local team. His 5-wicket haul was his 27th.

However, in return Barbados pace bowler Kemar Roach (5 for 17) produced his best records to date, and England slumped to 77 all out! The England bowlers bounced back with several quick wickets, and it looked like they rebounded enough to make it a contest. But their aspirations were quashed by an incredible performance from skipper Jason Holder, who scored an amazing 202no in tandem with wicketkeeper Shane Dowich (116no). It was Holder’s first double century and the fastest in the Caribbean in terms of balls. (229). It also made him the top allrounder in the world. West Indies declared at 415-6, and England faced a mammoth 628 to win with plenty of time. However, another Barbadian rose to the challenge, and spinner Roston Chase (8 for 60) proved to be the winner. What an amazing match. As expected Jason Holder was Man-of-the-Match. West Indies also won the 2nd Test by 10 wickets in Antigua to win the Series. England did get their act together at St Lucia to win by 232 runs with Joe Root scoring 122. The first two ODIs also took place at Kensington Oval last February. Both teams won a game each after a blistering start from Chris Gayle (135), which was matched by Jason Roy (123) as England won by six wickets chasing 361. In the 2nd match West Indies won by 26 in a thriller after Shimron Hetmyer (104no) and Shelden Cottrell (5 for 46), famed for his salute when he takes a wicket. Two matches were also shared and one was a no result at Grenada due to rain leaving 2-2 for the Series. Unfortunately, West Indies lost their 3 T20 matches, which are best forgotten! After all, isn’t it best to remember this epic Testwin at the Oval?