It may be premature to hang out the bunting, never mind organise a parade in an open-top double-decker. But evidence is growing that England have found a bowling strike force to worry Australia.
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad form the pair in question and yesterday against the West Indies they demonstrated that they could possess enough of the right stuff in this most significant of summers. There are caveats.
The manner in which they harried and hounded the first tourists of the season on another cold day in the north will not perhaps be replicated faithfully on hotter days elsewhere against harder-nosed opposition. Towards the end of the fourth day of the second Test they had no immediate answer to the formidably attacking batting of Chris Gayle, a man with several points to make.
Yet there was plenty in this, their third match together as England's opening pair (it would have been four but for the off-spinner Graeme Swann taking the new ball at Lord's), to promote optimism among England's followers. The Wisden Trophy had already been annexed and the npower series won before they got down to business.
It was always a case of when and not if with regard to West Indies' resistance. In different fashions, both Anderson and Broad ensured that England were not detained unnecessarily long, and although they failed to make immediate incursions after the follow-on was enforced, the position by then was utterly unassailable.
West Indies were 259 behind by the time Anderson terminated their first innings and had reduced the deficit to 144 with seven wickets in hand when bad light ended play. Gayle had perished by then after an innings that was hugely entertaining but would have been more at home in Twenty20 – he hit his second ball for six. Ramnaresh Sarwan had gone too after scoring a hundred earlier in the day and all hopes, if there are any at all, rest on Shiv Chanderpaul once more. A draw, however, looks out of the question.
England were in rude health, save for the absence from the field for the last session of Matt Prior who bruised a finger. An X-ray revealed there was no fracture, though Paul Collingwood took over behind the wickets. If his glovework was understandably of the primitive variety, he did not lose much by comparison with the permanent tenant.
All West Indies can do now is regroup for the one-day series which begins on Thursday, probably not to universal acclaim. This is not beyond them though they have been so lacklustre and so forlorn that the least they will need is an increase in temperatures.
It is six years since Anderson was England's boy wonder, six years of injuries, remodelled actions, re-re-modelled actions and comebacks. Broad's career so far has followed a smoother path, a gentle, phased introduction to international cricket and a dozen matches or so before he could be considered a spearhead. In his 37th Test match, Anderson took five wickets for the sixth time in his Test career and he deserved them. He has returned to the bustling, head-down method with which he first burst on to the scene.
Already three wickets to the good overnight, he added Brendan Nash rather fortuitously, when the ball rebounded off the bottom of the bat on to his stumps, and Denesh Ramdin, pouched at slip after his second extremely diligent half century in successive matches.
Perhaps Broad was more impressive since he toppled West Indies' Big Two with some smart bowling. England had not been innocuous but nor had they been rampant in the morning as Sarwan and Chanderpaul took their partnership to 99. It needed something a bit different and Broad provided it.
Coming round the wicket to Chanderpaul, who had been in one of his characteristic thou-shalt-not-pass moods, Broad found precisely the right line. Chanderpaul played hesitantly – he would undoubtedly have preferred to leave it – and nicked it to Prior before the finger began to throb.
Broad's dismissal of Sarwan was a beautiful example of thoughtful fast bowling. The batsman had just reached his 15th Test hundred and his fourth against England this year by pulling a short ball for his 14th four. Broad ramped up the pace and decided to continue with the short stuff.
The bouncer that got Sarwan was unerring – fast, straight and with steep bounce. He had to play it and the ball looped off his gloves to gully where Tim Bresnan took the catch. Poor Bresnan did not get much of a game again in his second Test, though it was the second catch of his short career, meaning he had two more catches than wickets.
There was one more wicket for Broad, when he had Fidel Edwards caught at slip. This rather deprived Anderson who would have relished the wicket. One of the match's sideshows has been the mysterious spat between Edwards and Anderson. When Anderson was batting he received much abuse and a series of bouncers.
It was inevitable he would give as much as he got when the chance came and he bowled several short balls at Edwards with little effect. This should have been a lesson to him. Finding a fuller length and some away swing would have made his point more efficiently. Whatever happened to the Fast Bowlers' Union? Like other unions it must have been undermined by Margaret Thatcher without anybody noticing.
There was a brief spell of determination from the West Indies in the afternoon when Sulieman Benn joined Ramdin. He was just beginning to get under England's skin when he was run out by Kevin Pietersen.
While it is unfashionable to enforce the follow-on in Test cricket these days, England can have had little hesitation in doing so again. Anderson and Broad did not have matters their own way but Swann brought Devon Smith's grotesque tour to an end and Graham Onions made the two other incisions. The Ashes begin in 50 days.
*Second npower Test
England won toss
England First Innings 569-6 dec
West Indies First Innings
D S Smith b Anderson .....................7
19min, 14 balls, 1 four
*C H Gayle lbw b Anderson ......... 19
40min, 24 balls, 4 fours
R R Sarwan c Bresnan b Broad ......... 100
219min, 138 balls, 14 fours
L M P Simmons c Strauss b Anderson ......... 8
30min, 18 balls, 2 fours
S Chanderpaul c Prior b Broad ......... 23
137min, 103 balls, 2 fours
B P Nash b Anderson .....................10
66min, 52 balls, 1 four
†D Ramdin c Swann b Anderson ......... 55
142min, 82 balls, 7 fours, 1 six
J E Taylor lbw b Onions .....................10
14min, 11 balls, 2 fours
S J Benn run out (Pietersen) ......... 35
61min, 48 balls, 6 fours, 1 six
F H Edwards c Strauss b Broad ......... 11
21min, 16 balls, 2 fours
L S Baker not out .....................0
5min, 4 balls
Extras (b 2, lb 21, w 2, nb 7, pens 0) ......... 32
Total (382min, 84.3 overs) ......... 310
Fall: 1-18 (Smith), 2-38 (Gayle), 3-68 (Simmons), 4-167 (Chanderpaul), 5-188 (Sarwan), 6-205 (Nash), 7-216 (Taylor), 8-286 (Benn), 9-310 (Edwards), 10-310 (Ramdin).
Bowling: Anderson 26.3-5-87-5 (w1) (11-3-36-3 6-1-16-0 7-1-22-1 2.3-0-13-1), Broad 16-2-62-3 (nb7) (6-0-28-0 8-2-31-2 2-0-3-1), Onions 18-6-52-1 (w1) (13-5-37-0 5-1-15-1), Bresnan 10-2-35-0 (2-1-2-0 2-0-7-0 6-1-26-0), Swann 14-4-51-0 (9-4-13-0 5-0-38-0).
West Indies Second Innings
D S Smith lbw b Swann .....................11
53min, 41 balls, 1 four
*C H Gayle c Strauss b Onions ......... 54
82min, 43 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes
R R Sarwan lbw b Onions .....................22
25min, 21 balls, 4 fours
L M P Simmons not out .....................3
24min, 15 balls
S Chanderpaul not out .....................18
21min, 12 balls, 3 fours
Extras (b 4, lb 1, w 2, nb 0, pens 0) ......... 7
Total (3 wkts, 104 mins, 22 overs) ......... 115
Fall: 1-53 (Smith), 2-88 (Sarwan), 3-89 (Gayle).
To bat: B P Nash, †D Ramdin, J E Taylor, S J Benn, F H Edwards, L S Baker.
Bowling: Anderson 5-2-20-0, Broad 5-1-21-0, Swann 3-0-13-1, Onions 6-0-46-2 (w1), Bresnan 3-0-10-0 (w1) (one spell each).
Progress: Third day: Bad light stopped play 4.39-5.22pm 34-1 (Gayle 19, Sarwan 6) 7.4 overs. 50 in 55 min, 11.3 overs. BLSP 5.59-6.33pm 69-3 (Sarwan 28, Chanderpaul 0) 15 overs. BLSP 7.22pm – close 94-3 (Sarwan 41, Chanderpaul 3) 26 overs.
Fourth day (min 98 overs): 100 in 131 mins, 28.1 overs. 150 in 190 mins, 40.3 overs. Lunch 188-5 (Nash 1, Ramdin 0) 54 overs. 200 in 268 min, 60.5 overs. 250 in 327 mins, 73.2 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 294-8. 300 in 363 mins, 81 overs. Tea 303-8 (Ramdin 52, Edwards 8) 82 overs. Collingwood kept wicket after tea. Innings closed 4.17pm. West Indies Second innings: 50 in 52 min, 12 overs. 100 in 94 min, 19.5 overs. BSLP 6.11pm.
First innings Sarwan 50: 126min, 78 balls, 7 fours. 100: 212min, 131 balls, 14 fours. Ramdin 50: 117min, 73 balls, 7 fours, 1 six. Second innings: Gayle 50: 69min, 39 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes.
Umpires: S J Davis and E A R de Silva.
TV replay umpire: P J Hartley.
Match referee: A J Pycroft.
*Some early sun but heavy rain in the afternoon. Max temp 15C.
*Television: Live on Sky Sports 1, 10.30-19.00; highlights on Five, 19.15-20.00.
Moment of the day
*Just ask KP! Lurking at deep mid-on, Kevin Pietersen swooped on Sulieman Benn's chipped a drive and then threw down the stumps at the bowler's end to run him out.
Ball of the day
*Bouncing out a batsman with a hundred against his name takes some doing, especially on a placid pitch. But Stuart Broad managed it, capping a fierce spell with a fast "throat ball" to send Ramnaresh Sarwan packing.
Shot of the day
*It took Shivnarine Chanderpaul two innings yesterday but he overtook Viv Richards and moved into second place behind Brian Lara on the list of West Indian Test run-makers with 8,546.Reuse content