CHESTER-LE-STREET: West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite said his side were so concerned about the prospect of “career-threatening injuries” on a sodden outfield they considered abandoning before beating England in a Twenty20 international.
None of the West Indies team at Chester-le-Street on Saturday had been involved in their side’s recent 2-1 three-Test series defeat in England.
Instead Brathwaite and his men had arrived directly from the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament.
Conditions at the Riverside, the home of northeast county Durham, were always likely to prove challenging for a team used to the rather warmer climate back home in the West Indies.
But jokes about the weather gave way to major concern when Windies wicket-keeper Chadwick Walton, changing direction to field a deflected ball, slipped and jarred his knee on an already wet outfield that had been exposed to yet more rain during the game.
Walton recovered, however, and he was behind the stumps as West Indies completed a 21-run win — their 11th in 15 Twenty20 internationals against England, a sequence including last year’s World Twenty20 final triumph in India.
– Unsafe ‘ultimatum’ –
But it almost did not happen after Walton’s injury, with Brathwaite telling a post-match news conference: “I had a chat with a few of the boys in a huddle while Chadwick was getting treatment and most of them said it was unsafe.
“I told the umpires the boys had some concerns — it could be a career-threatening injury (next).
He added: “We kind of gave it an ultimatum… we got the outfield roped and we were in agreement that if it continued to be unsafe or if anything dramatic or drastic happened we’d call it quits. But cricket was the winner.”
Durham later revealed that three spectators were injured after falling on unstable flooring in the North East Terrace, with stewards evacuating the area as a safety precaution.
On the field, Chris Gayle (40) and heir apparent Evin Lewis (51) got West Indies off to a flying start with a rapid first-wicket stand of 77 before England, with Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid sharing six wickets, held the tourists to 176 for nine.
Last year, Brathwaite had punished England with the bat, hitting Ben Stokes for four sixes in as many balls in a dramatic last over as West Indies came from behind to win a thrilling World Twenty20 final in Kolkata.
But on Saturday he starred with the ball by taking three for 20 — the 29-year-old Barbados all-rounder’s best figures at this level.
“We knew we had to stick in it,” said Brathwaite. “The way we finished the game was really fantastic.”
– Morgan misses out –
The key passage of play started when paceman Brathwaite bowled Alex Hales for a rapid 43.
Hales’s exit sparked a slump that saw three wickets lost in quick succession, with key batsmen Joe Root and Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan falling cheaply as England slumped to 68 for four on the way to a total of 155 all out.
Now white-ball skipper Morgan wants to see an improved showing from England’s batsmen when a five-match one-day international series against West Indies starts at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
“It’s the batting certainly,” Morgan said. “We felt throughout the whole game it was a good wicket to bat on and to be chasing 177 we felt pretty confident at the halfway stage.”
Morgan, out for two on Saturday, has managed just 12 runs in his last seven innings for Middlesex, Barbados Tridents and England.
“My form is in and out all the time, it’s not a huge concern but I’d like to score some more runs,” he said.