The 1st Test match between England and the West Indies was full of twists and turns and excitement that only Test cricket can provide fans. The match, which marked the return of cricket in the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, was won by 4 wickets by the West Indies on Sunday.
Jermaine Blackwood’s superb knock of 95, Shannon Gabriel’s 9 wickets in two innings, captain Holder’s 6 wickets in the first innings and then Ben Stokes' crucial wicket in the 2nd innings were all incredible performances that gave the West Indies their first victory in the three-Test match series.
Captain Jason Holder was all praise for the man of the match, Shannon Gabriel and said he wasn’t surprised by Gabriel’s brilliant performance. "Shannon is just one of those guys who keeps doing it. He has a massive, massive heart and he's been through a lot... He wants success so badly. His body hasn't held up the way he would like but to see him back out there fit and well and bowling fast for the West Indies is always a pleasing sight," said Holder.
"He deserves every bit of success he's had in this game. I'm really, really happy for Shannon, I know what he's been through,” he added.
Chasing a target of 200 runs to win, the West Indies was initially rattled by England’s fast bowler Jofra Archer. Struggling at 27/3, it was Blackwood who ensured victory for his team, though missing his own 2nd Test hundred by just 5 runs. The 28-year-old right-handed batsman got a much deserved applause from his captain.
"He had an outstanding first-class competition - his case to get back in the team was pretty strong," said Holder.
"He's not a slouch at this level either, he has done well for us and I hope he can kick on," he added.
The match was also special for skipper Holder. Number one Test all -rounder in the ICC rankings, the West Indies captain got his best Test figures of 6 for 42, wrapping up England for a poor first innings total of 204.
England’s stand-in captain Ben Stokes who took 6 wickets and got 43 and 46 runs in two innings said, he didn't regret his decision to drop pacer Stuart Broad or choosing to bat first in overcast and bowler conducive conditions after winning the toss.
Though Stokes admitted he was looking forward to the return of regular captain Joe Root, away on paternity leave, in the next match.
"He's one of the best players in the world, so he is a big miss when he doesn't play - and obviously next week I don't need to make any of the decisions, so good luck Joe," said Stokes.
With a 1-0 lead West Indies is now one match away from winning a Test series in England for the first time in 32 years. The 2nd Test match will be played at old Trafford from July 16.