Blackwood 95 seals famous win for West Indies
Jermaine Blackwood struck a courageous 95 to guide West Indies to a historic four-wicket win over England in the first Test marking the return of international cricket following a coronavirus-enforced break from the game.
Blackwood lifted his team with a glorious counterpunch in the company of Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich after they were reeling at 27-3 amidst their pursuit of the 200-run target.
A spirited Jofra Archer darted in thunderbolts in his first spell of the West Indies chase by making early inroads into the opposition's batting lineup.
Ultimately, the winning runs from West Indies came off the bat of John Campbell, who had exited the field after being whacked on the toe by Archer and came out to resume his innings when six batsmen had been dismissed.
The other batsman undefeated on the other end was West Indies' influential skipper Jason Holder, who remained 14 not out.
Holder had set up the tourists' victory charge right on the second day's play when he managed to rip through the English batting with career-best figures of 6-42 in the first innings.
The momentous triumph offers West Indies a golden opportunity to clinch their first Test series win in England in 32 years as they lead the three-match contests 1-0 at the moment.
It was a thoroughly deserved success for the West Indies, who went ahead with their tour despite more than 44,000 deaths in Britain from the coronavirus during the pandemic.
"It is right up there with the best victories we've had as a group," Holder told Sky Sports.
Holder sparked a collapse that saw England lose five wickets for 30 runs late Saturday when he dismissed Stokes.
- 'Best day I've had in Tests' -
"To me, yesterday was probably the best day I've had in Test cricket," said Holder.
"It was a hard, long toil and the bowlers really put it in. Every time I asked a bowler to come up and give a spell, they came up and gave a massive effort."
Stokes, while relieved to be back in action, said England's first innings had been the key to the game.
"First and foremost it is great that we've been able to get back onto the park and play some international cricket," he said. "It was a bit strange.
"Ideally we would have liked to have got a lot more runs in the first innings.
"We got ourselves into some great positions at times with the bat and unfortunately we weren't ruthless enough to make our innings count."
Windies spearhead fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was named man-of-the-match following combined figures of 9-137, including 5-75 in the second innings.
"I'm still a bit stiff but thankfully there is a couple of days to recover before the next Test match," said Gabriel.
"Coming here, the guys were confident after playing them back in the Caribbean. We knew we could get the job done."
But it might have been a different story for England on Sunday had they not given Blackwood several reprieves.
The 28-year-old Jamaican had made just five when he edged off-spinner Dom Bess only for Stokes, moving at slip, to drop the chance.
And he had moved on to 20 when wicketkeeper Jos Buttler floored a one-handed catch off Stokes.
Leg-byes were signalled but Blackwood would have been out on review had Buttler held on.
England then squandered a possible run-out chance when Zak Crawley fumbled.
But with West Indies needing exactly 100 more for victory, Barbados-born quick Archer defied a docile pitch to produce a rearing 90 mph delivery that Roston Chase, on 37, could only divert to Buttler via his glove and helmet.
It was the end of a valuable stand of 73.
The diminutive Blackwood pressed on, cover-driving both Bess and Anderson, England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, for two of his dozen boundaries in a 154-ball innings.
Archer had earlier made a useful 23 before he was last man out in England's second innings 313.
He then reduced West Indies to 7-2, having gone wicketless in the first innings after being selected ahead of dropped veteran Stuart Broad.
Archer got Kraigg Brathwaite to play on and had Shamarh Brooks lbw for a duck.