The independent voice of cricket

England v West Indies

England’s eight come-from-behind Test series wins since 1990

by Max Parry 15 minute read

With England trailing the West Indies one-nil after the first Test in Southampton, here’s a look at England’s eight Test series comeback wins since 1990, when they’ve come from behind to take the rubber.

South Africa in England, 1998 (2-1)

After drawing the first Test at Edgbaston, South Africa demolished England at Lord’s. A Jonty Rhodes hundred helped the tourists to a first innings total of 360, after which Alec Stewart’s side were skittled for 110 and made to follow on. By the time they were dismissed for a second time, England led by only 14; South Africa won by ten wickets.

A draw at Old Trafford meant England had to win the last two Test matches to steal the series. Following an eight-wicket win in Nottingham, the hosts won a thriller at Headingley. After setting the late Hansie Cronje’s team 219 to win, South Africa were reduced to 27-5, before the Lord’s centurion Rhodes and Brian McMillan got South Africa within 75 runs of victory. However, with the reverse-swinging ball in hand, Darren Gough was not to be denied as he finished with figures of 6-42 as England won by 23 runs and the series two-one.

West Indies in England, 2000 (3-1)

A triumphant bowling performance from Courtney Walsh (8-58 in the match) at Edgbaston put the West Indies one-nil up, as they waltzed to victory by an innings and 93 runs. England, once again led by Stewart, came roaring back at Lord’s, bowling the West Indies out for 54 in the third innings of the game. Requiring 188 runs to level the series at one-all, England snuck home by two wickets thanks to a lower-order 33 from Dominic Cork.

The next Test in Manchester was drawn, before England’s bowlers once again blew the Windies batting order away; Gough took 4-30 and Caddick 5-14, as the hosts dismissed Jimmy Adams’ side for 61 to win by an innings and 39 runs. A third-innings ton from Michael Atherton at The Oval helped England seal the series three wins to one in a low-scoring shoot-out in which neither side made 300.

England in Sri Lanka, 2000/01 (1-2)

Another disastrous series start. Despite batting for more than 240 overs across their two digs England only managed to score 253 and 189 in response to Sri Lanka’s 470-5 declared. In Kandy though, skipper Nasser Hussain struck a ton and Darren Gough claimed match figures of 8-123, to begin the comeback, with 46 from Graham Thorpe helping England scrap to a fourth innings target of 161 seven down. Thorpe was again key in a spin-dominated contest in Colombo, scoring 113* in the first innings and 32* to guide the visitors through a nervy chase of 74 after Sri Lanka were bundled out for 81 in their second effort.

The Ashes, 2005  (2-1)

You know the story with this one, but indulge yourself with the following reminder: The Aussies recovered from a fiery first hour at Lords before growing into the first Test, eventually emerging victorious by a margin of 239 runs.

The next Test at Edgbaston was one of the greatest games of cricket in the modern era. Trescothick and Strauss tucked into Ponting’s bowlers in the absence of the stricken Glenn McGrath, before Pietersen and Flintoff got stuck in, helping England over the 400 mark on a raucous first day. Leading by 99 going into the third innings England failed to bat Australia out of the game, setting 282 runs for victory, and it was only thanks to some lusty late blows from Flintoff that it was that many. When Steve Harmison removed Michael Clarke with the final ball of day four, the game was up. Except it wasn’t. Warne, Lee and Kasprowicz got Australia within one shot of victory, before the latter gloved the ball to Jones. Cue wild celebrations. One-one.

A draw at Manchester, followed by a three-wicket win at Trent Bridge meant Vaughan’s men only had to avoid defeat The Oval to become the first England side to win the Ashes since 1986/87. A scintillating 158 from Kevin Pietersen ensured the match was indeed drawn and England regained the urn.

England in New Zealand, 2007/08 (1-2)

A slow opening game suddenly came alive as Ryan Sidebottom took 6-49, prompting a declaration from the hosts setting England 300 to win on the last day. Only Ian Bell’s unbeaten 52 provided any resistance as England were demolished for just 110. Jimmy Anderson replaced Matthew Hoggard for the second game in Wellington and immediately made an impact, claiming 5-73 to give England a healthy first-innings lead after Tim Ambrose had earlier scored his first, and only, Test century. Fifties from Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood along with 5-105 by Sidebottom levelled things up at 1-1.

Sidebottom saved his best for last however, as he took career-best figures of 7-47 in the first innings in Napier. Hundreds from Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, and a fourth-innings six-for by Monty Panesar did the rest of the job to complete the comeback and claim the series 2-1.

England in India, 2012/13 (1-2)

In a run of superb form, Alastair Cook struck centuries in each of the first three Tests. The first of them was trumped by Cheteshwar Pujara’s double ton, but some masterful batting support from Kevin Pietersen and 19 wickets shared between Panesar and Graeme Swann ensured the second would not be similarly wasted. Cook’s largest score of the series, 190 at Eden Gardens, was supported by fifties from Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen.

Their four front-line bowlers each took at least three wickets as they ground their way past the hosts to take the lead in the series. A turgid pitch in Nagpur ensured the final game never progressed beyond the third innings, though Cook’s run of hundreds was brought to an end as he scored only 14 runs across two innings which took a total of 121 balls.

India in England, 2014 (3-1)

Following a turgid draw in Nottingham, only remembered fondly for James Anderson’s only Test fifty and Alastair Cook’s only Test wicket, India took a one-nil lead by beating Alastair Cook’s England at Lord’s, with an Ajinkya Rahane ton, some customary Ravindra Jadeja swashbuckling, and a short-ball barrage from Ishant Sharma the highlights. Hundreds from Gary Ballance and Ian Bell allowed England to declare on 569 in the third Test in Southampton, before Broad and Anderson combined to dismiss India for 330 – a lead of 239. Cook declared again on day four, with MS Dhoni’s side needing 445 to win. England won by 266 to level the series.

India were demolished in Manchester as England won by an innings and 54 runs, Stuart Broad taking 6-25 in 13.4 overs. In fact, the tourists failed to reach 200 in either of the last two Tests and England only had to bat once in each of those games. A ton from Joe Root in the final Test at the Oval helped England to 486 in response to India’s first innings 148. The Test series finished with a whimper from an Indian perspective; dismissed for 94 to hand England the win by an innings and 244.

South Africa, 2019 (1-3)

England came from behind, after losing by 107 runs in Centurion, to take the next three Tests in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

A first Test hundred from Dom Sibley helped England up to 391 in the third innings, setting South Africa 438 runs to win. All the bowlers, with the exception of Root chipped in to dismiss the hosts for 248, as England won by 189 runs to level the series late on the final afternoon.

England only batted once in the next Test. Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope both made tons, allowing England to declare one run short of 500. Dom Bess took 5-51 in South Africa’s first innings; the hosts made 209 and were asked to follow on. Faf du Plessis’ side failed to bat themselves into the lead before they were dismissed and England went two-one up. The series victory was secured by 191 runs as South Africa failed to reach 300 in either innings at the Bull Ring. Mark Wood impressed with nine wickets in the match.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99