Michael Vaughan ended the debate on whether it was right for him to drop down England's batting order yesterday when he completed his second century of the first npower Test here. Many have questioned the wisdom of Vaughan's decision to stop opening but after becoming the ninth Test captain to score a century in each innings he can now look forward to batting at four for the foreseeable future.
Of the England captain's 13 Test hundreds this was one of the easiest. There was no shortage of incident during his 170-minute occupation - Vaughan was dropped on 86 and could have been run out on a couple of occasions - but through it England were able to set the West Indies the virtually ungettable target of 478.
Chris Gayle set off as though he fancied his team's chances of pulling off the highest-ever run-chase in Test cricket. The aggressive left-hander drove and carved his way to 81 before losing his leg stump to a Stephen Harmison yorker. This dismissal proved to be England's final success of the fourth day and when bad light stopped play at 5.01pm, with seven overs still to be bowled, the West Indies had moved on to 114 for 3.
With Brian Lara and the first innings centurion Shivnarine Chanderpaul at the crease, the tourists have two batsman who are capable of batting out the final day, but England will be hoping, and expecting, to wrap this match up some time this afternoon.
Though another large crowd greeted the umpires' decision with boos, the 29 minutes of play which remained will not be lost. Should England require them they will be added on to today's play.
The West Indies would have been in deeper trouble but for a blunder by the umpire Rudi Koertzen. Ashley Giles, who was brought into the attack after five overs, trapped Devon Smith in front with his fifth delivery but he should also have been given the scalp of Chanderpaul.
On nought and facing his first ball from the left-arm spinner, Chanderpaul gloved a catch to short leg but Koertzen failed to raise his finger. This wicket would have made Giles the 38th England bowler to take 100 Test wickets.
When Vaughan took on the captaincy almost 12 months ago there were fears that the extra responsibility would have an adverse effect on his batting. And until this match this appeared to be the case. When Nasser Hussain resigned last year the Lancastrian averaged 51 in Test cricket and before this week his average while skipper was only 33. Yet back to back centuries have now raised this to just under 40 - a very respectable average.
"I am delighted with my performance," Vaughan said. "To score a hundred in each innings in any form of cricket is a great achievement but to do it at the home of cricket is special. I will probably sit down later tonight and realise what I have done.
"I didn't contribute anything in the one-dayers and I have felt that I owed the team runs. After the one-day series I just had to go back to basics. I just hit ball after ball in the nets and I have to thank Duncan Fletcher for the help he has given me.
"But it is no good being good for four days and not being up to it on the fifth. Our catching here has not quite been up to scratch. They could have been five down tonight, but the day has gone really well."
Vaughan entered the fray when Andrew Strauss's run of high scores at Lord's came to an end. The Middlesex captain once again looked set for a significant total, but, on 35, he pulled a short ball from Pedro Collins to Ramnaresh Sarwan at square leg.
Robert Key quickly followed his fellow centurion from the first innings back to the pavilion when he was run out by a direct hit from Chanderpaul at extra cover. The Kent opener may have felt a bit sorry for himself as he walked off but it was his doziness which led to his downfall. Vaughan was right to be looking for a quick single and Key should have been watching his partner rather than the ball.
On 117 for 3 England were not in trouble - their lead was 269 - but there was a danger that the target they set could be gettable. The pitches at Lord's are becoming friendlier and friendlier to bat on and this West Indies side have previously shown that they are capable of chasing down a total of 350.
And it could have been worse had Chanderpaul hit the stumps with a throw after another running mishap when England were on 133 for 3. Vaughan was on 16 and well out of his ground when the Guyanan shied at the stumps, but on this occasion his throw failed to make contact with the stumps.
This was the last chance given by England before Vaughan and Graham Thorpe took them out of sight. Once in, the pair accelerated the run-rate with a well-crafted partnership of 116.
Vaughan was the first batsman to take the game to the West Indies 30 minutes after the lunch interval. The elegant right-hander struck four boundaries in a Collins over, the first of which took him to another half-century.
Thorpe chipped a simple catch to Gayle as England's lead approached 400 and this gave Andrew Flintoff the perfect platform on which to have some fun. Without the bowling of Tino Best, who has a back strain, Lara kept his spinners on until Flintoff proceeded to hit them out of the attack. Omari Banks was twice hit into the Compton Stand at long on and further agricultural shots took him to a 38-ball fifty.
Vaughan was dropped by Sarwan on the cover-point boundary on 86, but brought his century up by taking 14 runs off five consecutive deliveries from Dwayne Bravo. In the first innings he looked relieved to have reaches this landmark, yesterday he was radiant.