There is often something comforting about the resumption of normal service. Its familiarity breeds content. Not however, in the case of England. For the second successive match they produced hapless, thoughtless batting which ensured the loss of the second one-day international to the West Indies.
The tourists were inspired neither by their fortuitous initial victory in the series when the West Indies effectively forfeited the match nor by the success of their female counterparts in the Women's World Cup. It is beginning to be difficult to understand what might inspire them.
Faced with an impressive but hardly monumental West Indies total of 264 for 8, England were never truly in the hunt. They lost two early wickets as their opponents had done but unlike them could not repair the damage.
Their captain, Andrew Strauss, made his first one-day international hundred for four years but it was in a forlorn cause. Strauss, dropped on nought and 28, batted with little flamboyance and none of his colleagues stayed around long enough to help him. The margin was 21 runs but it had been over – barring the spectacular – long before. It is 1-1 in the series and by the time it resumes in Barbados, England might have had time to lick their wounds but not heal them.
West Indies judged their innings more or less as they would have wanted thanks to the contributions of their two leading batsmen. There can be no more potent combination than being in the form of your life and playing in front of your home crowd. Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan possessed both those assets and both produced innings of the highest class.
If Chanderpaul was the more prolific, both men were equally scintillating. To the crowd here it hardly mattered. Both were given rapturous receptions as they came to the crease earlier than they might have liked as the West Indies were reduced to 24 for 2.
They went about their repair work with fluency. Sarwan was spectacular but uncomplicated, his two sixes coming in successive overs, one an almost idle flick over midwicket, the other, displaying similar insouciance, a crisp bunt over extra cover.
Chanderpaul was hardly a less exacting target for England's bowlers and three times he unleashed wonderfully timed reverse sweeps. When he was dropped off an inside edge by Matt Prior on 27, England must have feared a battering. As it turned out, they must have been rather pleased with themselves. Sarwan, inexplicably mistimed a slower ball from Jimmy Anderson and was caught at extra cover with his fourth one-day century in view.
Chanderpaul made his 10th one-day hundred, his first in Guyana, but, hampered by cramp, he did not cause the carnage that might have been expected. England would have settled for conceding 57 in the last 10 overs. They had one of their good fielding days and their bowlers performed acceptably. Stuart Broad had a mild altercation with the umpire Aleem Dar when he was called four times in a over for bowling wides and then with Strauss but it could be put down to youthful zeal not petulance.
Jimmy Anderson needed a good one-day day and had one while it was to Stephen Harmison's credit that he returned reasonable figures after being cracked for 26 in an over by Chanderpaul on Friday. England needed a good start and they probably needed Kevin Pietersen to score big runs. Neither happened. Pietersen, like Ravi Bopara before him, chopped a ball on to his stumps. Owais Shah never got going, and nor did Paul Collingwood, or Prior, who was out to the sort of sharp catch he needs to start taking.
For a few overs, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Strauss formed the first effective partnership of the innings. But when it had reached 59 it ended in daft circumstances when Strauss, hitting the ball straight to Chris Gayle at mid-on, called his colleague for an unattainable single. The rest was predictable and England needed 85 to win from the last 10 overs. Strauss was bowled round his legs by the second ball after a rain break and that really was that. Abnormal service is needed quickly.
Providence Stadium Scoreboard
West Indies won toss
*C H Gayle b Anderson......... 20
L M P Simmons c Prior b Anderson......... 0
R R Sarwan c Collingwood b Anderson......... 74
S Chanderpaul not out......... 112
K A Pollard c Pietersen b Mascarenhas......... 9
D J Bravo c Collingwood b Mascarenhas......... 19
†D Ramdin c S J Harmison b Collingwood......... 1
D J G Sammy lbw b Collingwood......... 11
N O Miller b Collingwood......... 0
F H Edwards not out......... 3
Extras (b2 lb5 w7 nb1)......... 15
Total (for 8, 50 overs)......... 264
Fall: 1-15 2-24 3-157 4-206 5-237 6-238 7-256 8-256.
Did not bat: L S Baker.
Bowling: Broad 7-0-48-0; Anderson 9-1-38-3; S J Harmison 7-0-29-0; Batty 6-0-38-0; Mascarenhas 10-0-53-2; Collingwood 10-0-49-3; Bopara 1-0-2-0.
*A J Strauss b Pollard......... 105
R S Bopara b Baker......... 14
K P Pietersen b Edwards......... 12
O A Shah lbw b Bravo......... 22
P D Collingwood b Bravo......... 1
†M J Prior c Ramdin b Sammy......... 2
A D Mascarenhas run out......... 29
S C J Broad c and b Miller......... 3
G J Batty run out......... 5
S J Harmison not out......... 18
J M Anderson b Pollard......... 8
Extras (b1 lb11 w12)......... 24
Total (48.2 overs)......... 243
Fall: 1-18 2-36 3-86 4-88 5-97 6-156 7-168 8-185 9-229.
Bowling: Baker 6-0-31-1; Edwards 6-0-31-1; Bravo 9-0-40-2; Sammy 10-1-36-1; Miller 9-0-42-1; Pollard 7.2-0-46-2; Gayle 1-0-5-0.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and C R Duncan (WI).
Score in five-match series 1-1.