Mark Wood gets five-wicket haul as his pace routs West Indies

From the moment he steamed in for his first delivery it was clear this would be no ordinary spell from Mark Wood. By the time he bowled his fifth ball, clocked at 92 miles per hour and forcing Shai Hope to hurriedly steer to gully, it was already destined to be exceptional.
The always whole-hearted, often fragile and thoroughly likeable figure of Wood lit up this third Test on Sunday with what must surely be some of the fastest bowling delivered by an Englishman since speeds have been recorded. Possibly even longer than that.
He peaked at 95mph - yes, 95 – when he delivered what had become a hat-trick ball to Shimron Hetmyer before knocking the stuffing out of West Indies with four wickets after England's batsmen had appeared to yet again throw away a promising position. 
This was both exceptional and exciting from Wood to even eclipse the hulking figure of Shannon Gabriel, who had been the fastest bowler in a series where old-fashioned West Indian pace has been a deciding factor.
Who would have thought a truly fast bowler would flourish in the Caribbean? It has been the missing link for England not just here but in the Ashes last winter and throughout a domestic game that just does not produce men of real pace.
How delighted England will be if Wood, whose injury problems have stopped him fulfilling his potential up to now, can stay fit, fill that huge void and consistently bowl with the pace and hostility he demonstrated here.
Wood, an important member of England's white-ball squad, certainly booked his place for this summer's Ashes on Sunday by adding a good eight or nine miles an hour to his bowling since last he was seen in Test cricket in defeat by Pakistan at Lord's last summer. 
It was in Dambulla during England's one-day tour of Sri Lanka before Christmas that Wood had a heart to heart with coach Trevor Bayliss about a career that has promised more than it has delivered. 
Bayliss told him in no uncertain terms that, with his lack of real seam or swing movement, he had to bowl fast if he was to play Test cricket again and Wood responded by impressing with the Lions against Pakistan A in the United Arab Emirates. 
It was enough to earn the Durham man a call once Olly Stone, the latest pretender to England's fast bowling crown, had been forced to quit this tour with a back injury but Wood has had to wait until this final Test to show he has heeded Bayliss's words.
He was held back until the 22ndover here by Joe Root with England having endured a chastening day in a series full of them to firstly lose their last six wickets for 46 and collapse to 277 all out and then see West Indies get off to an excellent start.
So worrying was the lack of swing gained by England's big two of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, in contrast to a West Indies attack again led by the outstanding Kemar Roach, that Joe Root was forced to turn to his spinner in Moeen Ali as first change. 
Moeen responded by taking two wickets in two balls himself, forcing Kraigg Brathwaite into an uncharacteristic hoick and then trapping the impressive John Campbell lbw, before Wood was given his belated opportunity.
How he took it. The wicket of Hope was followed next ball by Roston Chase providing Rory Burns with his second catch, this time an excellent one, in successive balls.
Hetmyer survived the rapid hat-trick ball at the start of Wood's next over but he was clearly uncomfortable, at one point seeming to back away from Wood, before he became his third victim on the stroke of tea.
When Wood penetrated the defences of Darren Bravo, who repelled everything hurled at him in Antigua, he had career best figures in one spell. A case for Wood, and the 'imaginary horse' he used to 'ride' in the outfield during quiet passages of play, of equine phew rather than flu.
By the time he tired Wood had four for 37 from eight action-packed overs either side of tea and England were firmly on top, a position of authority reinforced by two more wickets for Moeen, Keemo Paul stumped by Jonny Bairstow and Alzarri Joseph brilliantly caught by Stuart Broad. 
Broad had returned to trap Shane Dowrich with the help of a review but, fittingly, Wood had the last word after Root brought him back to bowl Gabriel and complete his first Test five-wicket haul and give England a lead of 123. They had extended it by 19, praise be, without loss by the close of a second day where 16 wickets fell.
How England needed their bowlers after another insipid batting display that saw them lose their last four wickets in 13 legitimate balls. Once both Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, who added 125 for the fifth wicket, had gone the end was predictably and depressingly nigh.
Nothing summed up their plight more than Bairstow struggling through 33 painful deliveries for two before being bowled by a booming inswinger from Roach aiming another misguided drive.
Bairstow had been restored to seven coupled with the return of his beloved keeping gloves but he was rattled by the pace of Gabriel, who struck him on the helmet grille, before being bowled for the 10th time in his last 19 innings.
When Anderson became the last to fall Roach had four for 14 in the day and 17 in the series but, in this Test at least, his efforts might not bring West Indies victory. 

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