England won the second Test and the series against West Indies yesterday. If it was entirely predictable it was also more difficult than it was expected to be.
The tourists were at once fragile and resilient. Drowning from the first hour on Friday morning, they clutched any straw that drifted along with all their might. By the time Jonathan Trott glanced the winning runs 35 minutes after tea on the fourth day, England knew they had been in a match. They were made to play like the world's No 1 team, and that was good enough to bring them an unprecedented seventh consecutive series victory at home.
The margin of nine wickets was huge, but not quite an accurate reflection of the difference between the sides. Still, it would be rashly premature to suppose that this really is the start of West Indies' revival: since Darren Sammy became captain they have won only two of 18 Tests and lost nine.
This defeat ended one of the most remarkable of all cricket records. It was the first time in nine Test matches and 23 first-class matches that West Indies had lost at Trent Bridge and their second-innings total of 165 was their lowest in Tests at the ground by 70 runs.
These are precious records proudly built and now gone forever. But they were playing England, who have lost only once in 17 Tests at home. The series score will probably become 3-0 when the third and final match is played at Edgbaston next week. England may be tempted to rotate their fast bowlers, a policy they have always been keen to promote without having enacted it.
There is a case for resting both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, bearing in mind the cricket that is to come later in the summer against South Africa. It should be resisted. Anderson is in prime form but has not taken the wickets his skilful endeavours have deserved. Broad has missed too much cricket lately, although it could be said that the more he is rested the less he is likely to be injured.
The loose talk about Tim Bresnan's place in the team has been stilled. He had as sterling a match as a bowling all-rounder could have done. Bowling indifferently at the start, he must have given himself a good old Pontefract talking-to because he responded by taking eight wickets and scoring an impressive, valuable 39. There is a queue of highly rated fast bowlers at Bresnan's shoulders, and in Steve Finn's case towering above them. Finn, at one end of the country, and Graham Onions, at the other, have big fan bases. Onions is the more complete bowler at present but there is a mounting body of opinion that as 23-year-old Finn is bound to lead the England attack one day, he should be in the starting XI now.
Steady on. As Bresnan demonstrated again in this match, he is a cricketer whose contributions are too easily overlooked. His versatility should not be lightly dismissed – it was he, for instance, who took a smart catch to end West Indies' second innings. He has been on the winning side in all 13 of the Test matches in which he has appeared.
On the fourth day, it looked that West Indies would simply fold, as it had been assumed on the third that England would simply plunder runs. Neither of these things happened. After failing to secure the humongous lead that had been widely assumed on Sunday, England were delayed in working their way through West Indies' tail yesterday.
Lunch had come and gone when the last of the required four wickets was taken. For more than an hour, Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy, the heroes of the first innings, refused to be parted. Fanciful notions started to take hold: if they had had put on 204 once, they could do it twice. It looked to be a case of play it again, Sams.
England kept their cool, which they have not always managed to do in positions when they think they ought to be taking wickets and wickets refuse to fall. They were probably not as cool, however, as Samuels, a dude who makes Chris Gayle look like a geek.
Subjected to some gentle banter by the England slip cordon, Samuels retorted: "Shut up guys, I'm on for back- to-back hundreds." So he was, it seemed, when he and his captain were picking off England's bowlers in the morning.
It was Bresnan who broke through, after an hour, trapping Sammy lbw.
England were kept waiting a little longer by Kemar Roach, who was eventually trapped in front by Anderson. Graeme Swann took the ninth wicket, prompting the valid question about the reasons for his absence from the attack throughout the morning session. The fact that the ball was reverse swinging probably persuaded Andrew Strauss to keep his fast bowlers working but equally they were not taking wickets.
The last hurrah was raised by Samuels who offered the long handle to Swann, taking 16 in an over with a four and two sixes. Briefly, it seemed that Samuels might indeed score his score second hundred of the match but Anderson had the last word when Ravi Rampaul sparred outside off stump.
Samuels has scores of 31, 86, 117 and 76 not out in this series so far. Who said that Twenty20, in which he was playing until three weeks ago, was not perfect training for Test cricket. It took England until the fourth over to score a run in their second innings, after which they flowed freely.
Trent Bridge (Fourth day of five): England beat West Indies by nine wickets
West Indies won toss
WEST INDIES First Innings 370 (Samuels 117, Sammy 106, Bresnan 4-104)
ENGLAND First Innings 428 (Strauss 141, Pietersen 80)
WEST INDIES Second Innings Overnight 61-6
M N Samuels not out 76
160 balls 2 sixes 9 fours
*D J G Sammy lbw b Bresnan 25
49 balls 3 fours
K A J Roach lbw b Anderson 14
22 balls 3 fours
S Shillingford c Anderson b Swann 0
R Rampaul c Bresnan b Anderson 0
Extras (b1 lb2)3
Total (60.1 overs) 165
Fall: 1-5, 2-14, 3-31, 4-45, 5-61, 6-61, 7-110, 8-139, 9-148.
Bowling: J M Anderson: 20.1-6-43-4 (7-2-12-2; 6-2-18-0; 7.1-2-13-2), S C J Broad: 17-5-58-1 (6-1-30-1; 5-3-6-0; 6-1-22-0), G P Swann: 6-1-24-1 (2-1-2-0; 4-0-22-1), T T Bresnan: 17-5-37-4 (10-3-24-3; 7-2-13-1).
Progress: 100 in 38.5 overs, Lunch: 141-8 in 53 overs (Samuels 52, Shillingford 0), 150 in 59.1 overs. M Samuels: 50 off 130 balls (8 fours).
ENGLAND Second Innings
*A J Strauss c Bravo b Samuels 45
72 balls 7 fours
A N Cook not out 43
86 balls 3 fours
I J L Trott not out 17
27 balls 3 fours
Extras (b5 nb1)6
Total (for 1, 30.4 overs) 111
Did Not Bat: K P Pietersen, I R Bell, J M Bairstow, †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson.
Bowling: K A J Roach: 5-2-16-0 (One spell), R Rampaul: 6-2-12-0 (One spell), D J G Sammy: 6-0-32-0 (One spell), M N Samuels: 5.4-0-18-1 (1-0-2-0; 4.4-0-16-1), S Shillingford: 8-1-28-0 (1nb) (One spell).
Progress: 50 in 16.3 overs, Tea: 74-0 in 21 overs (Strauss 40, Cook 33), 100 in 28.4 overs.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) & Asad Rauf (Pakistan)
TV Umpire: M Erasmus (South Africa)
Match Referee: RS Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Timeline: How fourth day unfolded
12.06pm Wicket. West Indies 110-7, Sammy 25. An hour of morning resistance from Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy ends when the captain is trapped by one from Tim Bresnan that nips back in and traps him in front.
12.52pm Wicket. West Indies 139-8, Roach 14. DRS intervenes on England's behalf. Asad Rauf bafflingly reprieves Kemar Roach when he steps in front of a Jimmy Anderson inswinger, but the review system does the rest.
2.00pm Wicket. W Indies 148-9, Shillingford 0. Battled to keep his end up for Samuels, but Shane Shillingford's modest resistance is over: he edges Graeme Swann to Anderson, who takes another slip catch.
2.11pm Wicket. West Indies 165, Rampaul 0. Samuels finally runs out of partners: Ravi Rampaul receives a shorter one from Anderson and offers the gentlest slip catch to reliable Bresnan. England need 108.
3.40pm Tea. England 74-0. This is starting to feel like a formality as Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss play England purposefully towards their target. The match and series victory are in sight.
4.13pm Wicket. England 89-1, Strauss 45. No 10-wicket win for England here. Strauss, looking like a man in a hurry, drives Samuels straight to Darren Bravo at cover. Someone else will have to win it.
4.31pm England win by 9 wickets, 111-1. Jonathan Trott ends the Test in his favourite way: a leg-side nudge off Sammy which runs for four. A comfortable win and England take a 2-0 lead with one Test to play.