Joshua Da Silva’s patient masterclass breaks England’s waning spirit

Even over the metal band and raucous applause on the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, one noise stood out above all else: a primal scream from Joshua Da Silva, celebrating his maiden Test century. After practically six hours of batting, Da Silva roared and seemed skywards in delight, then collapsing onto the ground in exhaustion.

When Da Silva walked out to bat about 23 hours earlier, on the second afternoon on the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, the West Indies’ outstanding dwelling file towards England – a solitary sequence defeat since 1968, and simply three ever – was hanging by a thread. 

On a wicket providing glimpses of uneven bounce and prone to deteriorate within the fourth innings, the West Indies had slumped to 95-6, nonetheless trailing England by 109 runs. When Kyle Mayers adopted quickly after for a sprightly 28, it left the West Indies 128-7; Da Silva had floor to 6 from 42 deliveries.

Yet, relatively than view the demise of all different recognised batsmen because the cue to be extra assertive, Da Silva took a distinct view. England’s last-wicket stand within the first innings had proven how, because the ball softens, situations in Grenada grow to be markedly extra pleasant for batting. In any case, he’s a batsman naturally extra given to the austere than the audacious.

So Da Silva was unperturbed by the jibes from England – and particularly Ben Stokes – that he was going nowhere quick. “I got a lot of stick out there for having a low strike rate but it didn’t matter to me,” he stated. “It was a bit tough, tried to wear them down as much as possible. I just wanted to bat as long as I could.”

It is a technique antithetical to the gallivanting model of keeper-batsmen that sides have tried to emulate since Adam Gilchrist. But Da Silva’s strategy displays a participant who has generally been picked by Trinidad & Tobago as a specialist batsman and even opened: a recognition of his defensive fortitude and penchant for taking part in lengthy innings. Since his West Indies debut in December 2020, these qualities have already been evident: on solely one of many earlier events that he batted 100 balls in a Test innings did he rating at a strike price of greater than 50.

Like Australia’s Steve Waugh and New Zealand’s BJ Watling – a tenacious, adhesive keeper-batsman in his spirit – Da Silva’s response to batting with the tail is to empower them. Batting with each the No 9 Alzarri Joseph – who dominated their ninth-wicket stand – and Kemar Roach, Da Silva was content material to take a single off the opening supply of the over. “The key was to trust them,” he defined.

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