In the end this match underlined the gulf in class between a team who can regard themselves among the favourites for this summer’s Champions Trophy and one who didn’t even qualify.
At times this was painful to watch as a weakened and inexperienced West Indies were humiliated by opponents who were in no mood to go easy despite the fact they had already wrapped up the series.
This crushing 186-run victory was as one-sided a one-day international as you will see as the hosts, chasing 329 to win, were routed for 142 inside 40 overs.
Yet the debate about the lamentable state of cricket in the Caribbean was the last thing on the minds of Alex Hales and Joe Root, who both struck wonderful hundreds to help England post what always looked a match-winning total.
For Hales the moment was particularly sweet. The opener wasn’t even included in the original squad for this tour having broken his hand during the second ODI against India at Cuttack in January.
However, after sitting out England’s victories in the first two matches in Antigua and listening to the debate about his future at the top of the order, he came back with an emphatic answer to any questions about his place in the team.
The 28-year-old has not only had to contend with injury recently but also the disappointment of losing his Test place following a poor summer in red-ball cricket and criticism for sitting out the subsequent tour of Bangladesh last October over security fears.
His attitude has, say England’s management, changed for the better as a result. This new-found hunger is exemplified by the fact Hales has hit the gym at 6am every day on this tour.
His 110 here was his fifth ODI century but given the circumstances it may have felt even sweeter for Hales than the England-record 171 he bludgeoned against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last August.
Witness the manic punch of the air and huge grin as Hales top-edged Alzarri Joseph for six to bring up his century in 99 balls. The opposition may be weak, yet these are still international runs and Hales will be grateful for every single one he scored here in Bridgetown.
So, too, will Root, whose 101 was his first ODI century in more than a year and the first time he has posted three figures since being appointed as England’s Test captain last month.
Also only Marcus Trescothick, with 12, now has more one-day centuries for England than the Yorkshireman.
Root’s unbeaten 90 was pivotal in helping England recover from 124 for six to win the second match of this series in Antigua last Sunday. This latest innings, which owed much to drops that reprieved him on one and 12, helped set the seal on what represents England’s first-ever away series whitewash against the West Indies in any form of cricket.
That fact again underlines the problems currently engulfing the game in the Caribbean, with most of the West Indies’ first-choice players overlooked for this series for political reasons.
Yet there will be little sympathy from those England players left heartbroken by their defeat to West Indies in last year’s World T20 final.
Carlos Brathwaite, the man who hit Ben Stokes for four successive sixes in the final over to win his side the tournament, is the only home player to survive from that dramatic match in Kolkata.
So it was perhaps some kind of comfort to Stokes that he dismissed Brathwaite with his first delivery to him since that epic finale in India.
Stokes had not crossed paths with his nemesis as a bowler in this series until the 26th over of West Indies’ innings in this match.
But he speared in a delivery that hit Brathwaite on the pads and, after a review by England, Stokes had his man lbw as the hosts limped to 75 for seven in their forlorn chase.
By that stage Liam Plunkett already had three wickets – including Shai Hope and home captain Jason Holder in successive balls.
Steven Finn, removing Kieran Powell in the third ball of the reply, and Chris Woakes, with the scalps of Evin Lewis and Kraigg Brathwaite, had earlier reduced the West Indies to 13 for three in the fourth over of the chase. From that point this dead rubber was dead as a contest as well.
England’s own innings was far from plain sailing, Jason Roy falling early to the impressive Joseph as they reached the 10-over mark on a modest 39 for one.
However, a 192-run stand between Hales and Root spanning 30.3 overs revived the run rate and their team’s dominant position in the match.
It was one they did not cede, even if the loss of eight wickets for 109 runs in the final 14 overs meant their total was perhaps more modest than they might have hoped for.Reuse content