West Indies v England: Will Jacks top-scores as tourists level series

Sam Curran West Indies
Will Jacks made 73 and Sam Curran took 3-33 as England beat West Indies by six wickets in the second one-day international in Antigua to level the three-match series.

Shai Hope’s run-a-ball 68 helped West Indies recover from 23-4 to 152 before Liam Livingstone (3-39) and Rehan Ahmed (2-40) saw the hosts dismissed for 202.

Jacks led England’s response with a mature knock before Harry Brook (43*) and Jos Buttler (58*) ensured England got over the line with more than 17 overs to spare.

The third and deciding ODI will be played in Bridgetown, Barbados on Saturday.

Curran on the comeback trail

Sam Curran West Indies
In the first match of this tour, Curran’s figures of 0-98 were England’s most expensive ever in a men’s ODI as Buttler’s side were unable to defend 325.

A disappointing World Cup – two wickets for 140 runs with an economy of 8.07 from 17.2 overs, and 35 runs in three innings at 11.66 with the bat – prompted scrutiny of his apparent fall from grace over the past 12 months.

Curran, the star of England’s 2022 T20 World Cup triumph, had seemingly gone from the Indian Premier League’s most expensive player – after signing a £1.85m-a-season deal with Punjab Kings – to broader question marks over his place and role in the England team. In days gone by, even during a phase of rebuilding, there might have been a temptation to bow to outside pressure and drop Curran.

However, England coach Matthew Mott, together with Buttler, decided to stick with the 25-year-old for the second match at North Sound and their faith was rewarded. Curran’s first wicket owed much to batter error as Keacy Carty wafted at a wide one and edged to Zak Crawley.

The confidence boost that first wicket gave him, after such a chastening previous outing, was clear and he quickly had two more in the bag. Brandon King initially had the better of his opening salvos with Curran, but a delivery which just moved a fraction was edged to Crawley.

Shimron Hetmyer was then pinned lbw on review, Curran having the confidence to persuade a dubious Buttler into sending it upstairs.

West Indies looked on the brink of collapse – and Buttler must have been tempted to bowl Curran through after the left-armer took 3-19 off five overs during the powerplay. It would be pushing it to say Curran is ‘back’ on this showing, but an analysis of 7-0-33-3 in this match certainly makes for encouraging reading.

Jacks shows maturity as Buttler finds some rhythm

Will Jcks England

This was an innings of two halves from Jacks.

The first was full of flamboyant strokeplay as he and Phil Salt got England off to flying start, plundering 50 runs off 5.5 overs until the latter was bowled by Romario Shepherd. Yet in his second ODI half-century, and his first outside of England, it was his maturity to play the match situation which was particularly encouraging.

The wickets of Duckett and Crawley necessitated a change of approach and Jacks was able to take stock, farm the strike, and ensure there was not a mad scramble in the dressing room.

It seems all the more puzzling such a talented versatile cricketer – his four overs of off-spin were expensive here, but he looks a handy option – was overlooked when England handed out multi-year contracts to 29 players last month. For England captain Buttler, this knock will help heal some of the scars of such a bitterly disappointing World Cup.

He made 138 runs in nine innings at 15.33 during England’s meek defence of the title they won so thrillingly in 2019. After a scratchy three from 13 balls in the first ODI, there might have been some nerves when he came to the crease at 116-4, but after a patient start he found some rhythm out in the middle.

Two effortless sixes off Yannic Cariah in consecutive balls were vintage Buttler in the finisher role – crisp, clean strikes down the ground which sailed over the ropes. Buttler’s knock comes with the caveat, however, that England were chasing a relatively low total in favourable batting conditions with much of the hard work already done.

Like Curran, it was an encouraging step in the right direction but Buttler more than anyone will know the importance of backing it up in a situation when the pressure is really on.