James Lawton: West Indies' tyros spark talk of green shoots


It wasn't Cricket, Lovely Cricket, and the West Indies Won, at Lord's yesterday, but it was a step in the right direction.

The team that once both illuminated and terrorised the world game have now won just two Tests in the last 31, a bleak record indeed since they beat England in Jamaica and galvanised the efforts of captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower to turn England into a professional force capable of fighting their way to the top of the world Test rankings.

The West Indian captain, Darren Sammy, is plainly still in the foothills of such a chore but he was right to talk about a few sturdy green shoots after Ian Bell and Alastair Cook were required to produce some of their best work to shut down the possibility of a shock defeat.

England's five-wicket win was much less than the anticipated formality, especially when Shannon Gabriel sent back Kevin Pietersen. Kemar Roach had earlier bowled with a fire that made the memory of such as Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose seem much less haunting.

King Viv Richards was, of course, hardly appeased. "It's all very well taking Tests into their fifth day, but we need to win," he growled. Of course, he would say that, but there did seem to be a little softening of the old rage.

It was as much as the new boys deserved.