England captain Andrew Strauss was disappointed but philosophical last night after his side failed to secure a dramatic victory in the Third Test.
"Clearly when you get so close to winning a Test match and you don't make it over that final hurdle it's very hard to take," he said. "In some ways it does feel like a defeat but once the emotion subsides hopefully we will realise that there are a hell of a lot of positives to come out of this Test match."
The tourists came as close as it was possible to do so to draw level at 1-1 in the series. But the West Indies last wicket pair of Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards held steadfast and calm for 10 overs before bad light brought an end to the contest. There were, nominally, still four overs left.
"We thought we had a great chance when we took the ninth wicket but Test match wins don't come easily especially on a wicket like this," said Strauss. "Even against numbers 10 and 11 it's hard to force the issue. I can't fault the bowlers in any way, I thought they did as well as they could possibly do in those conditions. It wasn't meant to be."
Although Ramnaresh Sarwan was man of the match for his scores of 94 and 106 the pitch at the Antiguan Recreation Ground, prepared in just 36 frantic hours, was probably the real hero of the piece. It played true and fair almost throughout and although there was the odd shooter batting was rarely an onerous business. Although the match ended in a draw it was a triumph for Test cricket after the second Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium had to be abandoned as a draw after 10 balls.
"We thought it would deteriorate a little but on day five but if anything it died a little bit and got flatter," said Strauss. "To have move forward in seven days after what happened and to see an absolutely thrilling climax to a great match, that's great advert for Test cricket after a pretty bad time a week ago."
Strauss confirmed that Andrew Flintoff would have a scan on his injured hip in Barbados today and was guardedly optimistic about his chances of being fit for the Fourth Test. Flintoff, despite obvious discomfort from the suspected muscle tear bowled at something approaching full tilt in his second spell after tea.
"In the next day or two there will be some very weary bodies both physically and mentally and also that underlying feeling that we didn't get what we deserved and that's pretty hard to take," Strauss said. "But once the emotion has cleared you can start to se things rationally. We played some excellent cricket and if we continue doing that against this side we can beat them."