Kyle Mayers was the unlikely destroyer of England’s second innings with a first-ever five-wicket haul to put the West Indies on the verge of a series-clinching victory on the third day of the third and final Test on Saturday.
After Joshua da Silva’s maiden Test century extended the home side’s first innings to 297 through the entire morning session for a lead of 93 runs, Mayers produced the astonishing figures of five for nine off 13 overs as England tumbled to 103 for eight by the close of play.
It leaves the tourists in a hopeless position of only 10 runs ahead with just two wickets in hand and two days to play.
Whether overnight batsmen Chris Woakes and Jack Leach can provide any sort of meaningful resistance on the fourth morning together with last man Saqib Mahmood, as has been the pattern so far in this Test match, remains to be seen.
“Today has not been right but a lot of what we’ve done in the first two Tests has really been good and the team has produced some great performances, so let’s not judge it just on today that it’s not working,” said England batting coach Marcus Trescothick.
However the harrowing experience of the day’s play was a stark reminder that the demons of an abysmal Ashes campaign are far from exorcised in the England ranks.
Having made his mark in the first innings with the first two wickets of the match on Thursday, Mayers’ deceptive medium-pace was again almost unplayable on a surface offering increasingly uneven bounce.
As on day one, he accounted for England captain Joe Root before adding Dan Lawrence and all-rounder Ben Stokes in quick succession to leave the visitors tottering at 39 for four in mid-afternoon.
Opening batsman Alex Lees and Jonny Bairstow offered the only respite in a partnership of 41 but when Bairstow bottom-edged an attempted pull off Alzarri Joseph to wicketkeeper da Silva it was the trigger for the first post-tea collapse of the match as four wickets fell for 21 runs.