Solid start essential for England to retain edge

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Two hours of crazy cricket on the fourth morning of the first Test should not settle a four-Test series between two evenly matched sides. However, the reaction of the two teams to last Sunday's remarkable passage of play suggests that the West Indies will have to produce something special if they are to get back into this series.

Two hours of crazy cricket on the fourth morning of the first Test should not settle a four-Test series between two evenly matched sides. However, the reaction of the two teams to last Sunday's remarkable passage of play suggests that the West Indies will have to produce something special if they are to get back into this series.

Following his side's crushing 10-wicket victory at Sabina Park, Michael Vaughan has been deliberate and confident, and England have named an unchanged team for today's second Test here in Trinidad. Brian Lara, meanwhile, has been defensive and hopeful. The West Indies captain spent as much of the past three days defending his players as he has preparing them for this crucial match.

There is one thing both captains will be attempting to do before they lead their respective teams out on to the Queen's Park Oval this afternoon: forget what took place in Jamaica.

Vaughan and Lara have different reasons for adopting that approach but both realise the damage that could be caused through reflecting on the first Test for too long. Complacency could creep in if England were to spend too much time basking in their glory, while the West Indies will want to forget their second innings ever took place.

"We realise we are in a good position but there is still a long way to go in this series," Vaughan said. "I have not seen any signs of complacency in our side. That game could have gone the other way quite easily. After being 33 for 2 we could easily have been bowled out for 100. We had to bat for two days to get a lead of 28. For three days the match was even and then two hours of cricket changed the game.

"We have a little edge but we just have to look at what happened to England here four years ago. They got bowled out for 46 and then went and won in Barbados. We just have to make sure that we keep ourselves on the same level. We don't get too above ourselves when we do well and down in the dumps when we do not."

Lara has had plenty of criticism in the West Indies for his side's performance in Jamaica and is trying to draw on the positives that came out of the first three days' play. "We recognise we played poorly on the fourth day," he said. "But we also need to recognise that the game was evenly poised after three days.

"The West Indies lost the first Test to England at Sabina Park in 1990 but came back to win and the guys are inspired to do the same again. Recent results in Trinidad have not been favourable to us [they have lost five of their last six Tests here] but the pitch offers a good chance of a result. Because of this we have to win this Test match."

It is Lara's job to convince his side that being bowled out for 47 was a one-off. But it was not. This was the fourth occasion in five years that the West Indies have been dismissed for less than 62, and England know it would take only a couple of early wickets to spread panic through the home side's batting line-up. The hosts can, however, take comfort from the record of English batsmen at this ground. It is 30 years since Geoff Boycott scored England's last century at this venue.

The outcome of the match is likely to depend on how well the two teams bowl. The West Indies will be hindered by the loss of their strike bowler Fidel Edwards, whose back injury will rule him out for between two and eight weeks, and look set to replace him with his half-brother, Pedro Collins. Ashley Giles' spin could play a more significant role but England will be initially looking for more of the same from Stephen Harmison and his fellow pacemen.

"It will obviously be a lot harder for Steve now," Vaughan said. "They've had a good look at him and they have all had the chance to face him. The pitch here will not bounce as much as that in Jamaica so it will be a lot tougher. But I think he has taken it all in his stride. He is a pretty laid-back, relaxed kind of guy. I see he is up for it. You just have to look at his body language in the nets and the way that he has approached his cricket in the last few days. He is definitely up for the challenge, as all the squad are."

Though he scored only 23 runs in the first Test, Lara is still the batsman England's bowlers most want to see back in the pavilion. Playing on his home ground, he will be motivated.

"We know he is a world-class player," Vaughan said. "We know there will be a stage where Lara gets in, and how we respond to that will be one of the key things in this series. The first day of this Test will be a key day. If we can have a good first day, and get on top of the West Indies, we will keep the psychological edge. But if we let them get back in, they will get a huge lift. We have to make sure that by the close of play on the first day we are bossing the game."

SECOND TEST (Port of Spain): ENGLAND: M P Vaughan (capt), M E Trescothick, M A Butcher, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, C M W Read (wkt), A F Giles, M J Hoggard, S P Jones, S J Harmison.

WEST INDIES (from): B C Lara (capt), C H Gayle, D S Smith, R R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, R O Hinds, D R Smith, R L Powell, R D Jacobs (wkt), T L Best, A Sanford, P T Collins, C D Collymore.

Umpires: B Bowden (NZ) and D Harper (Aus).

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