MARK WOOD’S explosive pace put England in control of the third Test with the West Indies as 16 wickets tumbled on day two in St Lucia.
Wood, who reached speeds of 95mph, took his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket as the Windies were skittled out for 154 in their first innings.
Moeen Ali also bowled beautifully, taking four wickets, to leave the tourists – already two-down in the series – well-placed to gain a consolation victory as they reached 19 without loss by the close, 142 runs ahead.
But it was Wood who made the real difference from the opening two Tests of the series where England’s comparative lack of pace had been so glaring.
Earlier, England’s batsmen had slumped from their overnight 231 for four to 277 all out. Jos Buttler was out in the third over without adding to his overnight score of 77, while Ben Stokes was brilliantly caught by Shane Dowrich for 79. The rest provided little in the way of resistance.
Things did not look great for England when John Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite put on 57 for the first wicket before the latter holed out to James Anderson on the boundary off Moeen’s bowling. Next ball, Moeen had Campbell lbw and suddenly the hosts looked vulnerable as Anderson rapped Darren Bravo on a finger.
That was the cue for Wood’s first Test bowl since May last year and he quickly got the outside edge of Shai Hope, Rory Burns taking the catch.
He had figures of two for nought when Burns caught Roston Chase off the next ball. Wood then got Shimron Hetmyer thanks to a juggling Joe Root catch, and the captain also held on to dismiss Bravo off the Durham quick and reduce the hosts to 79 for six.
Keemo Paul was next to go, stumped by Jonny Bairstow off Moeen.
Stuart Broad got a deserved wicket, trapping Dowrich lbw, and then took a fabulous catch off Moeen to dismiss Alzarri Joseph. Fittingly, Wood wrapped up the innings by knocking back Shannon Gabriel’s middle stump.
Wood said: ‘It feels fantastic. Through all the hard times there was a bit of self-doubt about whether I was good enough to be at this level. Today I felt like an England player.’
He added: ‘It’s a day I will never forget – anytime when it’s not going quite right I can look back on this game and have fond memories.’