England 399 and 333-7 declared
West Indies 295 and 350-7
Despite the obvious personal jubilation for James Anderson during the first Test match in Antigua yesterday, England were ultimately left to rue a missed opportunity to gain an advantage in the series against the West Indies, as the match petered out to a draw on the final day. Anderson went past Sir Ian Botham as England's all-time leading Test wickets taker to move on to 384 for his career, a fitting landmark achievement for a bowler who has consistently been the pick of the bowling unit for many years now.
Sadly, the current mixture of pace and spin on offer to his national side did not have quite enough subtlety and variety to clinch a match that looked theirs for the taking when play resumed on the last day, as they could only take five of the eight wickets they required.
The West Indies resumed their second innings on 98-2, 'chasing' a target of 438 for an unlikely victory themselves, but more probably hoping to muster sufficient resistance to deny the visitors their success. The fact they managed to hold out until the close of play with wickets still remaining was largely due to a first Test century by Jason Holder, who remained unbeaten on 103 when the game was declared as a drawn result. The Caribbean side showed far better spirit than in their first innings, the key partnership perhaps being the 105 runs added by Holder and the West Indies' captain Denesh Ramdin, who contributed 57 to the cause himself before becoming Anderson's record breaking victim.
Devon Smith also hung around to make a vital contribution of 65, while Kemar Roach's patient 15 runs near the end were not generally in keeping with the traditional flamboyance of his nation's batsmen, but by then time at the crease was essential. Roach lasted for some 75 minutes, frustrating the England bowlers as they strained for further breakthroughs on a basically flat pitch.
England's long wait for an away Test win continues, their last victory dating back to 2012, with ten failed attempts in the meantime. While there have been successes at home in recent years, the true strength of a side is often gauged by its performance in foreign climes and England seems to be somewhat lacking in that regard at present. They will hope to end that dismal statistic when the second Test takes place in Grenada, beginning next Tuesday, with selection choices no doubt foremost in their minds. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid may well feature in their plans to spruce up the top order batting and the spin options.
Botham, commentating on the match for Sky Sports, was able to congratulate Anderson personally on the record and seemed genuinely delighted that the Lancashire man was the one to move into the number one spot in the record books.
With summer Test matches to come against the Aussies at home, Anderson may well have his eyes on the next milestone of 400 Test wickets, a feat that only 11 bowlers have ever achieved. He has some way to go to catch the all-time record breaker though, with the now retired Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan having taken the staggering number of 800 wickets during his long Test career. #Cricket