England’s miserable white-ball winter ended on an appropriately low note after they lost their T20 series decider against the West Indies at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.
Two days on from compiling their highest T20 total of 267 for three, England subsided to 132 all out in 19.3 overs on the same pitch, with only the in-form Phil Salt able to get to grips with a tricky pitch.
He followed up his back-to-back hundreds by top-scoring with 38 off 22 balls but was bowled by a peach from Gudakesh Motie, who took three for 24 and was the architect of the Windies four-wicket victory.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 21, 2023
Motie shared five of England’s top-six wickets with fellow slow left-armer Akeal Hosein to leave the hosts with a paltry chase although Reece Topley took two for 17 and Adil Rashid two for 21 in reply.
It was far from a cakewalk but Johnson Charles (27) and Sherfane Rutherford (30) cameos were followed by Shai Hope taking on the baton with an efficient run-a-ball 43 not out, sealing a 3-2 series win in style with a six.
England battled back from 2-0 down to force a winner-takes-all showdown, so there are some positives they can take ahead of their return to the Caribbean and United States for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
But they have followed up a World Cup group-stage exit with ODI and T20 series defeats to the Windies, who put in a much more disciplined performance with the ball after being flayed to all parts last time.
Jos Buttler lapped a delivery that was too full to short fine-leg while Hosein had his revenge after being dispatched for six by Will Jacks, who was castled next ball with a quicker one that skidded on.
Motie did the same with Salt, who was still hungry for runs and looked a cut above with five off-side fours and a brutal six high over long-off off the slow left-armer. But the following ball drifted to leg then spun sharply and uprooted middle stump, beating Salt’s prod and leaving him incredulous.
Harry Brook’s attempted lap sweep off Motie took a top edge, leaving Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali to rebuild in a stodgy 40-run stand in 38 deliveries. The pair both cleared the rope but could not quite click.
Moeen holed out for 21 and Livingstone offering a tame return catch on 28 to give Motie his third was the start of an England collapse which saw them lose their last five wickets in 19 balls for 11 runs.
Adding just 62 in the last 11.3 overs left England struggling but Topley drew a false shot out of Brandon King, while Nicholas Pooran was unable to ride the bounce of Chris Woakes and chopped on.
Charles had marked his introduction into the series with a couple of meaty sixes but he miscued a Rashid full toss to leave the Windies on 62 for three at halfway and the game in the balance.
Rutherford clobbered Rashid over long-off and whipped Sam Curran for another six before slapping to extra cover but Hope was anchoring the pursuit, eschewing risk but whittling down the target.
Curran delivered a superb penultimate over, conceding just two and getting Andre Russell to hole out to leave 10 needed off the last six balls, with Woakes entrusted at the death.
Jason Holder saw a cruel inside edge squirt through the in-field as he collected three before Hope delivered the coup de grace by carving a fuller and wider ball over the deep point boundary to get the Windies over the line with four deliveries to spare.