England’s batting line-up imploded in familiar fashion before Chris Gayle’s 77 off just 27 ballsinspired the West Indies to a seven-wicket triumph in the fifth and final ODI international in St Lucia on Saturday to ensure the series ended drawn at 2-2.
The 39-year-old Gayle, playing in what may be his final home ODI, smashed 77 off just 27 balls after England had been skittled out for 113 in 28.1 overs, with Oshane Thomas doing the most damage with five wickets.
Just three days after the visitors had posted 418 against the same attack, the West Indies, who won the Test series between the two sides 2-1, this time needed just 12.1 overs to race to their target at 115-3.
“I thought about it walking round after the game, ‘will this be my last innings in the Caribbean?’ We’ll have to wait and see for now,” Gayle told Sky Sports after being named the player of the series for his 424-run haul from the four completed matches.
“This will give us a big boost. It’s been a great series and I’m happy we tied the series. Being in such terrific form is fantastic for me; I think it’s my best ODI series stats-wise.”
Joe Root’s side had started favourites to equal Australia’s record of winning a 10th successive ODI series but subsided limply amid a series of ill-judged shots on a pitch that offered help to the pacemen.
Eight of England’s batsman fell to short-pitched deliveries, with Thomas cashing in to take 5-21 from 5.1 overs.
When West Indies batted it looked a completely different game, with Gayle giving another explosive display of hitting to add to his 162 from the previous game and his 135 from the opening match.
His nine sixes took his total to 39 across the four games, a record in a bilateral series.
Root had been keen to secure the win ahead of this summer’s World Cup and will be particularly disappointed in his batsmen, who never came to terms with conditions which were radically different from Grenada.
But from the moment Sheldon Cottrell bowled Jonny Bairstow for 11, England never looked comfortable with only Alex Hales and Jos Buttler, who both scored 23, looking capable of putting any sort of innings together.
England’s final five wickets went down for just two runs, and the last three wickets without scoring, as batsmen formed a regular procession to the pavilion en route to England’s 14th lowest ODI total.
Gayle won a personal battle with Mark Wood after the paceman removed fellow opener John Campbell for a single.
That proved a mere inconvenience for the self-styled ‘Universe Boss’, who struck a series of towering blows before he was finally bowled by Wood with West Indies in touching distance of victory.
The two sides now play three T20 games.