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.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?