James Anderson took a career-best 7-42 to lead England to a series-clinching nine-wicket victory over West Indies in the third and deciding Test at Lord’s.
Anderson, who took his 500th Test wicket on Friday, claimed five more on day three as West Indies were bowled out for 177, despite 62 from Shai Hope.
Set 107, England were taken to their target by an unbroken stand of 72 between Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley.
The 2-1 series win follows a 3-1 success against South Africa.
Not only does it extend an unbeaten home record against West Indies that dates back to 1988, but also sends England off on their defence of the Ashes on the back of two Test series wins in Joe Root’s first summer as captain.
England play one Twenty20 and five one-day internationals against the Windies to conclude the home summer before travelling to Australia in October.
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Job done against improving West Indies
When England hammered a woeful West Indies in the day-night Test at Edgbaston, the series looked likely to be neither a spectacle nor decent preparation for a trip down under.
However, a wonderful display by the tourists in the second Test at Headingley not only restored some faith in the Caribbean side as a Test force, but also set up the pressure situation of a series decider at Lord’s.
In the end, the low-scoring affair in bowler-friendly conditions has seen England prove themselves as the superior team, even if the scarcity of runs has done little to help the hosts further their search for top-order batsmen.
Opener Stoneman and number five Dawid Malan have probably done enough to ensure their places in an Ashes squad that is due to be announced when the domestic season finishes at the end of September.
The place of number three Westley is less certain, with the likes of Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings and Alex Hales looking for runs in the final weeks of the County Championship in order to press their claims.
Awesome Anderson hits new heights
After the celebrations of becoming only the sixth bowler to reach 500 Test wickets on the second evening, Anderson found himself in trouble with umpire Marais Erasmus for encroaching on to the pitch in his follow-through.
Two warnings left him on the brink or being removed from the attack and necessitated a switch from the Pavilion End to the Nursery End.
However, that only helped the 35-year-old Lancastrian move the ball down the slope and he found the edge of Roston Chase’s bat with the fourth delivery of the morning.
Jermaine Blackwood fell in similar fashion, leaving the impressive Shai Hope, the leading runscorer in the series and the last of the recognised batsmen to defy England almost single-handedly.
It took a special delivery to remove the 23-year-old, angled in and nipping away to give a third catch of the day to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and, after that, West Indies were as good as beaten.
Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach were both bowled as Anderson bettered the 7-43 he took against New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 2008. The 39 Test wickets he took this season are the most he has taken in a home Test summer.
Looking ahead to the Ashes
If England are looking for improvements to make for their defence of the Ashes, catching would probably be included on the list.
Punished for drops at Headingley, their victory here may have come sooner had they not spilled three chances of varying difficulty in the morning session.
Stuart Broad put down the most straightforward at mid-off and missed a tough, diving caught-and-bowled opportunity, while Alastair Cook shelled a sharp one at gully off Moeen Ali. Both sides dropped 26 catches between them in the series.
That, though, is a less of a concern when compared to England’s batting, even if Stoneman and Westley were assured in navigating England to their target.
Left-hander Stoneman was strong square of the wicket on both sides to follow up the maiden half-century he made in the second Test with an unbeaten 40 that included the winning runs.
Westley arrived after Cook was pinned lbw by the spin of Bishoo and characteristically favoured mid-wicket as well as playing attractive cover drives in 44 not out, his first double-figure score in six attempts.
Bye, bye Blowers
This was the last match behind the microphone for BBC Test Match Special’s Henry Blofeld, who ended his career by thanking the listeners.
As he completed his final commentary stint, he was given a standing ovation by the Lord’s crowd.
He later embarked on a lap of honour at the end of play and was even invited to join the celebrations in the England dressing room.
‘Two or three Ashes places up for grabs’ – what they said
England captain Joe Root: “I’m very pleased. It’s been a great week. It was a challenging wicket. We’re really pleased that we came out on top.
“It’s important we enjoy this, enjoy tonight and enjoy what a summer it’s been. It’s a great opportunity for this group of players to do something special in Australia.”
England coach Trevor Bayliss on the Ashes squad: “There are two or three positions that will take more time than the others. I can’t see us going outside the people we have played in the last 12-18 months.
“The guys that have come in in the last series or two have been in tough conditions. They have had to do some hard yards. They would have liked to have scored a few more runs, but they’ve shown something also.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “This series has surprised us. None of us gave West Indies any chance after Edgbaston.
“Full credit to them, and we’re going to see Shai Hope for many, many years. It’s been a good series to watch, even though it’s finished quickly.”
West Indies captain Jason Holder: “I’m really proud of the guys. I’ve seen a lot of fight, which I haven’t seen for a long time. Hopefully we can carry on putting in some good performances.
“In recent series, we’ve won a game away from home and we’ve really competed. We’re not too far away from clinching a series win.”
Anderson the master – the stats
- James Anderson’s 7-42 was his 24th Test five-wicket haul, his fifth at Lord’s and his fourth against West Indies
- His 39 Test wickets this summer is the joint second highest by an England bowler in a home summer, level with SF Barnes and Alec Bedser and behind only Jim Laker’s 46 in 1956
- Of Anderson’s 506 Test wickets, 301 have been top-five batsmen
- West Indies have not won a Test series in England since 1998 and have won only one Test in the UK since 2000