Shortly after tea in the second Test yesterday, England made history. More history, it could be said, for a team which has made such activity routine.
The winning boundary from the bat of Jonathan Trott gave England a 2-0 lead against West Indies and their seventh successive series victory at home. They have managed six twice before – in spells between 1884 and 1890 and 1955 and 1960 – so such sequences seemingly occur around once in 50 or so years.
Whether they can now achieve an eighth will depend on how they deal in the next series of the summer, against South Africa, with a different proposition. West Indies were hard to break in both Tests and clawed their way back when the game seemed up.
If England gain those sorts of opportunities against South Africa they have to take them or perish. Andrew Strauss, England's captain, was aware that they had not been as ruthless as they might have been. "To think you can beat anyone at home is the right attitude but you have to earn it. Test matches are hard to achieve and we have had to work hard in both those Tests.
"We have had opportunities to grab both matches by the scruff of the neck and we haven't been able to do that. But credit has to go to the opposition. Two sides play in a game and they dug deep and showed spirit and desire to get back into the game.
"I don't think we're looking at South Africa [yet]. We have built up some early momentum and played some good cricket in the first two matches. Why wouldn't we want to make it 3-0?"
But England are thinking of South Africa all right, and that much will be plain in their discussion of the team for the third Test of the present series, at Edgbaston next week. Part of them will wish to seize the opportunity to rest a fast bowler or two with a heavy workload ahead but with nine days between Tests there is plenty of recovery time.
Fast bowlers like Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad will not be thinking of resting their bodies: they will be dreaming of more Test wickets. It is possible that Broad, given his injury history and his regular participation in all forms of the game, will be omitted. Tim Bresnan, man of the match yesterday for his eight wickets, has secured his place. But in the past England's rotation policy has been forced on them by injury. This is different. "We will definitely think about it," said Strauss. "Resting and rotation is something you have got to do on a case-by-case basis. We will speak to the seamers and see how they're feeling – see how things are looking for the rest of the summer as well. You have always got to look quite a long way ahead when it comes down to potentially resting someone. There is always a balance to strike, because primarily you want to win every Test match you play in, that's always the starting point."
Strauss has been at the helm of England at a truly rousing time. Two Ashes wins, home and away, a No 1 world ranking and now a record run of home series victories are true landmarks.
"It's nice to achieve these milestones," he said. "I remember winning the Test match at Lord's against Australia, the first since 1934, that was a significant little feather in our cap. Each time you achieve one of these things it makes you feel part of something special."
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