For the third Test, which was also held at Old Trafford, England made two changes. With Ben Stokes not fit enough to bowl, it was decided to leave out Zak Crawley, meaning that the batting line-up behind him all shuffled one place up the order. James Anderson returned from being rested, and Jofra Archer was back after his omission for breaking the lockdown procedures. There would have been a debate about which bowler to leave out, with Sam Curran being the unlucky one as Chris Woakes got the nod ahead of him – it must have been a close call, but Woakes’s home record is so good. Mark Wood, too, might have hoped for a recall, but Stuart Broad held on to his place after his excellent form in the previous Test. England can count themselves very lucky to have so many quality options among the pace bowlers, with others beyond those six also pressing their claims.
West Indies, by contrast, have a narrow range of options, with the support acts on this tour often lacking in experience. With the pace attack looking a bit leggy towards the end of the second Test, they brought in spinner Rahkeem Cornwall in place of paceman Alzarri Joseph. In modern-day cricket, it’s fair to say you don’t see many players of his build (6ft 6in and about 22 stone; it is thought he is the heaviest man ever to play Test cricket), but a first-class career of 303 wickets at an average of 23.57 showed he was not to be underestimated. Jason Holder again won the toss, and as last time elected to bowl first because there was plenty of cloud cover to encourage their attack.
Kemar Roach struck in his first over, trapping Dom Sibley in front of middle, to give his side the perfect start, bringing Root in very early on. West Indies’ concerns about their strength in depth were further highlighted when Shannon Gabriel pulled up after 3.2 overs; he’d looked as though he was struggling for some of the previous Test and this was the worst possible news for them. Happily, he was soon back on the field and bowling again before lunch. England had progressed smoothly enough, if slightly slowly, when Root tried to pinch a quick single, but was run out for 17 by a direct hit from Roston Chase: 47 for two.
After lunch, with the sun out, it looked as though there might be easier conditions to bat in. Then Roach struck: after bowling a couple of short ones to Stokes, he pitched one up which nipped back beautifully between bat and pad to bowl England’s talisman for 20: 92 for three. Burns reached his first fifty of the series in 126 balls, with just three fours in his score, but couldn’t go on to make a really big score, falling for 57, superbly caught at slip by Cornwall off the bowling of Chase
Next in was Jos Buttler, with many pundits feeling this might be a final chance for the hugely talented keeper/batsman who had averaged just 23 since the start of 2019. At tea, England were 131 for four with relatively modest batting to come, so both sides went into the evening session knowing this was a particularly crucial period of the match. Ollie Pope diced with the slip cordon a couple of times, but nothing went to hand, while Buttler appeared becalmed, scoring just 3 in 31 balls, before he finally managed a lovely straight drive that set him going. Gabriel was unlucky not to have an LBW shout against Pope upheld, but the pair began to put together a handy partnership.
Pope crashed a wonderful shot through the covers to bring up his fifty off just 77 balls, taking the partnership to 51 off 89, with Buttler on 12 – there won’t be many times he is so comfortably outscored. It didn’t stay like that much longer, with Buttler smashing Cornwall for two sixes in one over. The hundred partnership came off 175 balls, and then Buttler reached his fifty off 104 balls, as Holder kept his faith in the spinners with the new ball available. When he did take it, Roach saw the third delivery with it go flashing past the slips, right where third slip should have been standing.
Just before 6.15, with the batsmen totally on top, the floodlights on and 4.2 overs remaining, the umpires decided the light was too bad to continue and took the players off, with England on 258 for four and Pope on 91 not out. The ‘crucial’ session had gone entirely England’s way, and the home side had the opportunity to take complete control on the second day.
Pope was dropped by Cornwall before adding to his overnight score, but then Gabriel cleaned him up, going through bat and pad, still on 91. Woakes then dragged one on from Roach, who went to 200 Test wickets, the first West Indian to reach the landmark since Curtly Ambrose in 1994. Buttler was undone by Gabriel for 67, edging to Holder, and then Archer also nicked off to Holder, this time off Roach and England had tumbled to 280 for eight, with all the excellent work of the previous evening being undone.
Broad decided to go for it, hitting his fourth delivery for six and suddenly the West Indies seemed to lose all perspective on how to respond. It was his 45th maximum in Tests, with only Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Ben Stokes and Ian Botham among England players having scored more. He kept on swinging away, and with Bess added 50 in 55 balls. His own fifty came up in just 33 balls, the joint third fastest half-century in Test cricket by an England player, behind two knocks from Ian Botham and alongside those by Allan Lamb and Flintoff. Eventually the fun had to end as he swept a full toss into the deep, out for 62, with all nine of his highest scores in Tests having been made in England. Not long after, Anderson was out for 11 and England were 369 all out. Advantage England once more.
After lunch, Anderson and Broad, in their 117th Test together, found conditions ideally suited to their skills, and it didn’t take long before the first wicket fell, Kraigg Brathwaite edging Broad to Root. It could have got worse for the tourists, but Stokes dropped a regulation chance at second slip off Anderson. Archer had John Campbell fending a vicious delivery off, caught out for 32. When Anderson returned, he had Shai Hope caught behind off a beautiful ball that squared him up, so by tea West Indies were 59 for three and in trouble.
Shamarh Brooks didn’t last long, as Anderson found the edge again, taking his 87th wicket against West Indies, overtaking Fred Trueman’s record. He and Broad gave the opposition absolutely nothing to work with. Then it was Broad’s turn to strike, with a classic celebrappeal as he had Chase LBW, but the batsman also knew he was out: 73 for five. Woakes went through the gate of Jermaine Blackwood for a breezy 26, bringing in Shane Dowrich who’d got a pair in the last Test. He and captain Holder battled through to the close of play, with the score on 137 for six, but Dowrich’s clear vulnerability to the short delivery suggested he would not last long against a barrage from Archer.
Surprisingly, England started the third morning with Archer and Woakes and there was a slight sense of lethargy in the field to begin with. Holder and Dowrich reached the fifty partnership in just 67 deliveries, but soon after Holder drilled one to Pope at mid-wicket, who took a brilliant catch off Woakes, only for it to be called a no-ball. Finally, with West Indies needing just four to avoid the follow-on and after nearly 40 minutes’ play, Anderson was called into the attack. It was more than 50 minutes before Broad came on, and by that time the score was 175 for six. Holder, who’d had a quiet series and been overtaken by Stokes in the ICC rankings for the best all-rounder in the world, reached 2000 Test runs when he scored 46. But that was it for him, as Broad had him plumb in his first over.
Broad continued to aim at the stumps and trapped Cornwall in front, then later in the over had Roach edging him to Root at slip to complete his 18th five-wicket haul. Dowrich tried to play some shots, but his pull off Broad just went straight up in the air for Woakes to catch. West Indies were all out for 197, with Broad taking six for 31, his best figures against them, with four wickets coming in his last four overs. England then reached 10 without loss by lunch, having dominated the morning.
Burns and Sibley took things steadily to start with, but when Chase came on there must have been a sense of trepidation from Burns, who had already fallen three times in 27 deliveries from the spinner, scoring just nine runs. He nearly fell, charging down the pitch and missing, only for the keeper to slip as he stretched to whip off the bails. By tea, England had moved steadily to 86 without loss off 32 overs. With the forecast for the next day looking poor, it seemed important not to allow things to drift too much longer and to inject some urgency into the final session and maybe have a dart at the West Indies at the end of the day.
Burns and Sibley duly did increase the pace after tea, and went on to reach the first century opening partnership at home since Alistair Cook and Alex Hales back in 2016. Sibley reached his fifty in 121 balls, then Burns went to the same landmark in 111 deliveries with a superb sweep shot. Sibley survived an LBW shout when DRS suggested the ball might have just clipped the top of middle. But it made no difference, as he was soon out LBW for 56.
Root came out bristling with intent, and that inspired Burns to bring out the reverse sweep. Burns was then given a life when Cornwall failed to appeal for an LBW that was crashing in to leg stump, and soon after that the fifty partnership came up in 57 balls. Root charged down the wicket to the returning Roach and lofted him back over his head to bring up his fifty in 49 balls, the declaration clearly on his mind. Burns, on 90, knew the declaration was coming and pressed on once too often, top edging a sweep that was caught by the stand-in keeper off Chase. Root declared on 226 for two, setting a target of 399. Root finished on 68 not out, having gone past Ian Bell (7727) and Mike Atherton (7728) to move into seventh place in the list of leading runscorers for England. Next up, fellow Yorkshire man Geoffrey Boycott (8114).
England had 25 minutes’ play to try to pick up a wicket, and Broad struck in his first over, Campbell edging to Root, then in his second over he accounted for nightwatchman Roach, who edged to Buttler, which took him to 499 Test wickets. The West Indies managed to survive to the end of the day, one which had belonged to Broad, who had taken six for 22 in seven overs on the day. At 10 for two, they were in deep trouble, but Broad would have to wait another day for his 500th wicket.
On the fourth day, the weather again intervened, taking Old Trafford to a total of 31 days lost to rain, further extending the ground’s unwanted record. But on the fifth day, play could begin on schedule, with England having 98 overs to pick up eight wickets, and Broad needed just one more wicket for his landmark. After 25 minutes, rain stopped play, but only for 15 minutes or so. Then, at 11.48, Broad homed in on the stumps, the ball kept low and Brathwaite became his 500th Test victim, plumb LBW. Coincidentally, Brathwaite had been Anderson’s 500th victim as well. Hope was next out, skying one to Broad (who else?) off Woakes, falling for 31 to leave his side in deeper trouble. Woakes then had Brooks with an inside edge to Buttler. Soon after another shower spared the tourists and they took lunch on 84 for five.
To make matters worse, Chase was run out by a direct hit from the lesser-spotted Bess, who had probably resigned himself to not getting a bowl in the match. Woakes was bowling superbly, removing Holder, Dowrich and Cornwall all leg before, further enhancing his reputation in home conditions as he completed five wickets in the innings. Broad was brought back to wrap things up and immediately had Blackwood strangled down the leg, giving him ten wickets in the match for the third time in his career; unsurprisingly, he was Man of the Match and Man of the Series. West Indies were all out for 129, losing by 269 runs. Soon after, the rain returned, but it would have been an injustice if England hadn’t won back the Wisden Trophy.