Tony Cozier: West Indies end with tail up after dispiriting week

It took the composure of tailenders not reputed for such level-headedness to secure it, but the draw that the West Indies eked out in the fading light here yesterday brought a dreadful week to a positive end.

The 60 balls for which the No 10 Daren Powell and No 11 Fidel Edwards held on until the sun was far enough down in the west for the umpires to call off the contest were the difference between psychologically devastating defeat and a result that keeps the West Indies' spirits up and retains their 1-0 lead in the series.

In recent days, they have been humiliated by the abandonment of the second Test on a beach masquerading as a proper outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and rocked by the realisation that the breathtaking millions Sir Allen Stanford pumped into their game might, after all, be tainted.

They have played without significant home support at the restored Antigua Recreation Ground, packed instead with England's boisterous, travelling fans.

That they came so close to losing only confirms the truth that they were outplayed at every turn except the very last. They enter the next Test in Barbados, starting Thursday, with more questions than answers.

The West Indies' overall cricket, so sharp in the first Test, was shabby. They succumbed to a rash of careless strokes in both innings and relied on two batsmen, Ramnaresh Sarwan and yesterday Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and two bowlers, the fiery Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor. It was all accentuated by costly missed catches.

Suliemann Benn, the tall left-arm spinner who was so impressive with his eight wickets in Kingston, seemed not to appreciate the change in conditions. He bowled without control or threat and went without a wicket for 143 runs while England amassed their mammoth first-innings total.

If Powell demonstrated a batting ability that he had previously wasted, he is picked as a fast bowler and his lack of support once more diminished Edwards and Taylor. He went without a wicket for over 100 in England's first innings. He pays over 45 runs a wicket in Test cricket. It is time for a younger fast bowler, Lionel Baker or Kemar Roach, to take his place.

Devon Smith's latest chance to establish himself as one of the several openers tried as Chris Gayle's partner was inconclusive. So was Ryan Hinds, another unproven returnee, at No 4.

Following the euphoria of the resounding, but unexpected, victory in the first Test in Kingston, it is not difficult to imagine what effect a loss would have had on players steeped in self-doubt after years at the bottom of the International Cricket Council's Test standings.

Now they can breathe a little more easily, although it is England who take more from the match. In five days on the field, everything that they needed putting right was put right. Their controversially installed new captain, Andrew Strauss, failed in both innings in Kingston and presided over as humbling a loss as England have endured against the West Indies in a quarter of a century. His response was to set up the match-winning total with his first day 169.

His partner, Alistair Cook, also out cheaply both times in the first Test, now contributed two fifties. Owais Shah, at last given his chance at No 3, played confidently for 56 before he ran himself out in the first innings.

Graeme Swann, boldly preferred to Monty Panesar, was the epitome of controlled, off-spin bowling that earned him seven wickets.

With England's two premier bowlers, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, physically handicapped, Stuart Broad stepped into the breach, a young cricketer for the future who, in two Tests here, has been transformed into the man of the present.

England were keen in the field and disciplined in their all-round performance.

As the series moves on to Kensington Oval next week, the momentum, so strongly with the West Indies on arrival in Antigua, is now with England, but not nearly as clearly as it would have been with one more wicket at the ARG.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links