Sarwan century bears hallmark of a leader

Ramnaresh Sarwan fashioned an innings here befitting a batsman in his 48th Test and carrying the responsibility of the vice-captaincy.

Yet the stylish Guyanese is less than two months into his 25th year with the best part of his career ahead of him. He already fills the pivotal No 3 position and, perhaps sooner rather than later, will find himself as leader of a team whose stocks now stand as low as at any time since the West Indies were first feeling their way in Test cricket in the Thirties.

These were circumstances to test his character. He was peculiarly off colour at Lord's. The touch he displayed during the one-day matches in the NatWest Series had deserted him.

He was twice lbw cheaply, jumping across his stumps, as he had been in the first two Tests against the same opponents in the Caribbean a few months earlier. He was leaden-footed in the outfield where he had once sparkled, his usually strong arm so weak he took to relaying throws from the deep underhand.

He spent the first day and a half here chasing leather in the field as England's batsmen once more exposed the frailties of the West Indies bowling and fielding. He sent down nine respectable overs of containing leg-spin from round the wicket but his role in the team is to make, not save, runs.

The situation could scarcely have been bleaker when he emerged from the pavilion 20 minutes before tea on the second afternoon, so surprised by the first-over dismissal of Devon Smith that he appeared while hastily adjusting his forearm guard.

Soon Chris Gayle was gone too and the board showed 12 for 2, replying to 566 for 9 declared. It was a situation to which he has had to become familiar in these times of struggle but his personal circumstances were not usual. A choice had to be made between reconstruction of the innings by the orthodox method of care and caution and personal revival by the attacking manner to which he is most accustomed and best suited.

It was not a straightforward decision by any means. He took the latter course. Depending on your point of view, it was either a bold or a foolhardy course. Whatever it was, it worked. It required luck and there were a couple of edged slashes. But the approach did get his feet moving in the right direction again, either right back or right forward. The bat also began to come down straight, rather than across the ball.

With Brian Lara in prime form at the opposite end, pride, so undermined yet again by the bowling and fielding, was restored in the best West Indian tradition of batsmanship. A packed Edgbaston had a second day it would never forget - and it was not simply because of Andy Flintoff's explosive hitting.

There was more high-quality play from Sarwan and Lara yesterday morning. Even after Lara allowed his concentration to be so upset by Flintoff's slower ball that he carelessly sliced the next delivery high to gully, Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul carried the fight into the afternoon.

The problem is that this West Indies team remain shrouded in the self-doubt and defeatism created by 29 losses in 39 overseas Tests since 1997. England and Australia went through the same disability during the Eighties.

No matter how high the balloon soars, it only requires a pin-prick to burst it. It was punctured as soon as Sarwan chopped Flintoff (who else?) back into his stumps and came rapidly down to earth.

A team playing with as much confidence and efficiency as England are at present would not let such a chance pass them by. The last seven wickets tumbled for 39 from 20.5 overs and, as they were at Lord's, the West Indies were left with two and a half days to try to save the Test.

Back to his best, Sarwan will carry much of the side's responsibility in the salvage operation. In the longer term, his proven qualities of leadership are what the West Indies will require most.

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain