England will have to answer a lot of questions despite having comfortably won the Test series against the West Indies.With the tough series against South Africa coming up later in the summer, England will need to get back to the drawing board and clear some of the hurdles which came up in the series.There were times during the Tests when England just let the game drift away when they should have got a firm grip.In almost every Test England managed to send the West Indian top and early middle-order packing very quickly.
Then the frustration mounted as either Shivnaraine Chanderpaul or Marlon Samuels led the fightback with the tail.England’s problems were in sharp focus particularly in the third Test. After claiming four wickets with the score on 128, England let West Indies off the hook.Marlon Samuels started the recovery with 76 before Denesh Ramdin and Tino Best put on 143 for the last wicket.
Best got the highest score by a number 11 with 95. Importantly he played some audacious shots which would have made any batsman proud.Ramdin also got a hundred to take West Indies to 426. England looked ragged and there were a few dropped catches to add insult to injury.Even Darren Sammy, who barely averages 20, got a magnificent hundred in the second Test.
England’s batting also seemed vulnerable at times. Thankfully, skipper Andrew Strauss struck a rich vein of form and kept England in the hunt.When the series started, England were confident that they would overcome the West Indies easily. But they were proved wrong in almost every Test as the West Indies, despite their inexperience, made England fight hard.
The lack of a couple of experienced batsmen in the top order ultimately hit the West Indies fortunes badly.Samuels was undoubtedly the star player. After enduring so many setbacks, the Cool Cat finally got his act together with consistent performances throughout the series.
He played with assurance and authority. Samuels must capitalise on this now and finally live up to the respect he gets as a top Test player.The West Indies bowlers set themselves high standards. Kemar Roach was the pick. He troubled all the batsmen with his pace and accuracy before he got himself injured.He was well supported by Ravi Rampaul who bowled with deceptive pace.
Best came back after three years and hustled and bustled the batsmen. This larger than life character needs some more success in his primary role as a bowler after writing himself into the record books with the bat.
He is an entertainer and cricket needs more characters like that.
England decided to rest two of their best bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, for the third Test. This was rightly rapped in many circles as cricketers these days are thorough professionals who want to play regularly and maintain continuity.This will now mean that both Anderson and Broad will have find their rhythm again when South Africa come over.
This will only compound England’s problems. Though Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Steve Finn did adequately in the final Test, they still let West Indies get past 400. Onions was the only bowler who looked capable of striking regularly.England seem much like India after they clinched the No 1 spot. India stuttered and began their downward journey on cricket’s ladder after claiming the crown.
England had a winter of discontent early in the year and a few jolts against the West Indies.Their day of reckoning will certainly come this July against the strong South Africans.Cricket’s crown has not been resting easily since the dominating days of the Australians and before that the West Indies.