Phil Simmons credited Jason Holder for sparking a “special day” for the West Indies bowling attack and told his batsmen to draw confidence from their first innings performance when it comes to tackling the run chase.
The West Indies head coach looked on as Holder removed his fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes for the second time in the match, the first of five English wickets to fall for 30 runs in 12.2 overs during the evening as the hosts closed on 284 for eight. Holder’s side now need two quick wickets in the morning before England’s lead swells much beyond its current 170 on the fifth-day pitch but Simmons, whose side stuck 318 on the board first time around, is confident their eventual target will be manageable.
Asked about Holder’s key strike, Simmons replied: “It’s what he does. He comes back and puts in the big spells for the team. That’s how he leads. I didn’t expect anything different. He was bowling for a while and I thought he might make a change. But he wanted to get that breakthrough. That’s the quality he brings.
“It’s been a special day for the bowlers. It was difficult in the morning, and also between lunch and tea, but in the evening they came up trumps because they persisted.
“All you can do is get the two remaining wickets and bat normally. Whatever is put in front of us, we have a day to bat. The confidence from the way we batted in the first innings – the attitude – is going to be a huge plus.”
Zak Crawley, fresh from his second Test half-century with a career-best 76, said his battle with Joe Denly to play at Old Trafford was “for the powers that be to decide”, and shared some regret at not stopping the collapse after his stand of 98 with Stokes was broken.
Asked about the surface, the right-hander said: “The pitch is definitely drying out. It’s a shame they don’t have a few more left-handers because on that side of the pitch, where the bowlers have been running through, it’s extremely dry. Hopefully it offers a bit for the spinners.”
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