England were not troubled in their 2-0 victory over the West Indies, but they were some way short of masterful. They were a bit sloppy, especially in the last match, and they conceded almost a third again as many runs in this series (1549) as they did in the three Tests they lost in the UAE (1178). The good news for England that in they were even worse at the start of last summer, conceding 1606 runs against Sri Lanka, with no effects in the second series.
The West Indies looked like an improving side. Against Australia they never gave up, despite the regular horror-sessions. Here they always looked on the verge of collapsing with the bat, but actually did so only once. They let things get away occasionally with the ball, but did well at regrouping in between sessions and fighting back after intervals. Overall, they were outclassed by England, but can go home with their heads held high. (Or at least they could if they did not still have to play a bunch of pointless ODIs.)
My individual marks (out of ten):
Andrew Strauss* – 9
Came into the first Test at Lord’s with ‘questions’ about his place in the side and responded with a majestic first innings century. Made just one in a tricky spell in before stumps in the second innings, but then came back with a bigger hundred and at a vital time for the team. He finished at the top of the England run-scorer list and second in average. His captaincy was poor by his standards, with the players often looking unmotivated and the field settings characteristically negative.
Alastair Cook – 6
A deceptively decent series by the vice-captain. Failed in the first innings in each match, only scoring 54 runs in the three innings. Stepped up when required in the second innings, however. Contributed with an excellent and all but match-winning 79 in the second innings of the first Test and saw England home with an unbeaten 43 in the second Test.
Jonathan Trott – 3
Got himself in a few times, but only managed a solitary fifty from the first Test. Did enough to still average over thirty in the series, but it was not really enough from the number three and almost half of his runs came in relatively easy situations. A disappointing series for such a good player, his Test average is now only a little bit above fifty.
Kevin Pietersen – 7
Made more headlines off the pitch than on it, but still had a good series. Only had one failure with the bat, in the second innings of the first Test, which he followed up with consecutive half-centuries. Put Shillingford and Narine to the sword in the second and third Tests. Had a century in his sights twice, but got out slightly loosely on both occasions.
Ian Bell – 9
In four innings this series, he hit three fifties. Two of them were unbeaten and one of those was a match-winning knock in the first Test. The only time he failed to go past sixty was when he fell for 22 in the second Test. Apart from that, he looked majestic and can count himself unlucky not to have scored a century. He was stranded with the tail in the first Test and was denied by the rain in the third.
Jonny Bairstow –
Looked talented, but never passed twenty in three innings. Undone by Roach in the first two Tests, then by Best in the third. Deserves another chance against South Africa, but looks unlikely to get one. Addendum: I have accepted the suggestion given to me that he deserves one point for the brilliant run out he effected at Lord’s.
Matt Prior† – 6
Excellent as always behind the stumps, but only got two innings with the bat. Did not contribute significantly in either of them, but has the excuse of twice coming to the wicket when needing to score relatively quick runs.
Tim Bresnan – 7
A series of two halves for Bresnan. Was arguably fortunate to have even been selected for the first two Tests after looking poor in the last Test in Sri Lanka and very poor at Lord’s. Kept up that form for the first part of the second Test, despite getting some tail-end wickets on the second morning. Then showed why he was selected with a some vital runs in England’s innings and then blew away the West Indies. Finished with twelve wickets in the series, second most for either side.
Stuart Broad – 9
Was perhaps slightly flattered by his eleven wickets in the first Test, but it is very hard for someone to luck into such a feat. For comparison, no West Indian bowler took more than ten wickets in the entire series. Highest wicket taker in the series with 14 and also contributed some useful runs in the second Test.
Graeme Swann – 3
Found life difficult on pitches that were not taking appreciable turn and was only a real threat in the second innings of the first Test. Scored thirty in the first innings of that Test as well.
James Anderson – 8
Showed his value most highly in the third Test when he was rested and England were rudderless. His nine wickets in the first two Tests were insufficient reward for the skill with which he bowled, though he did not get the same swing he got last summer.
Graham Onions – 7
Only got one innings of one Test, but looked very good therein. Had the best bowling figures of the innings with 4-88 and looked much like the Onions of old. Unlikely to be picked against South Africa, but will have put himself in the selectors minds.
Steven Finn – 5
Was not picked until the third Test, despite widespread suggestion that he ought to be. Bowled well in the one innings in which he got the chance, but was a bit wayward on the fourth morning. Looks very good, but perhaps still not quite the finished product and may have slipped behind Onions in the pecking order. Made an amusing 0* as nightwatchman.
Darren Sammy* – 7
Continues to get the most out of his side, some feat given the massive internal problems of the West Indies. Showed his batting skill in scoring a maiden hundred in the second Test, but badly threw his wicket away in the other two. His bowling was only that of a useful fourth seamer and nothing more. Should definitely be happy with his efforts, however.
Adrian Barath – 4
Not a great series for the West Indian opener, but not a dreadful won. Stuck around well in both innings of the first Test, but never managed to pass fifty and went cheaply in both innings of the second. Comfortably the best of the top three.
Keiran Powell – 2
Three single figure scores in five innings and a top score of only 33 make this a series to forget. His only saving grace was that he did manage to drag his innings out and wear the shine off the ball to protect his colleagues.
Kirk Edwards – 0
Eight runs total in four innings and seven of them came in the first innings of the second Test. For comparison, Fidel Edwards even managed to score twelve. Dropped for the third Test, needs to do a lot of work to come back.
Darren Bravo – 3
Another top order batsman to struggle, he made it into the twenties three times, but not once into the thirties. All the more disappointing after being considered the second best batsman in the order coming into the series. Comprehensively outshone by batsman down the order from him, though was unlucky to be run out by his partner in the first innings of the series.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 8
Another good series in England for the West Indian wall. Missed the third Test due to injury, but passed fifty (and came close to a hundred) in both innings at Lord’s, plus a 46 in the first innings at Trent Bridge. His only failure was when playing an uncharacteristically wild hook in what would be his last innings of the series.
Marlon Samuels – 10
Could almost do no wrong. Out to a loose drive in the first innings at Lord’s, he then seemed to feed off Chanderpaul’s patience (with whom he frequently batted) and after that his lowest score in the rest of the series was 76. Did not look overly threatening with the ball, but did enough to pick up five wickets and was a decent second spin option.
Denesh Ramdin† – 4
Scored a century remembered mostly for his puerile celebration in the last Test, but was very underwhelming in the first two. Should be aware that a ton in a rain-ruined dead rubber against a second choice attack is not enough to compensate for three single figure scores in the previous four innings. Was below average with the gloves, but not horrifically so.
Kemar Roach – 8
Some ferocious new ball bowling saw him top the list of West Indian wicket takers despite picking up an injury and missing the third Test. His top moment was causing some worry in the gloom at the start of the England run chase in the first Test, but was class throughout.
Fidel Edwards – 1
His mark matches the number of wickets he took in the first Test, before being dropped. Most notable for the ridiculous design cut into his hair.
Shannon Gabriel – 5
Unfortunately injured after the first Test, but looked good when he played. Someone who should boost the Windies when he returns.
Ravi Rampaul – 7
Came in for the second Test and looked quite good. Got the ball to swing and nip about off the seam. Got some important top order wickets in the first innings, especially that of KP when England looked set for a huge total and dismissed Cook twice in the series.
Shane Shillingford – 1
Desperately unlucky to have only played in one Test. Left out due to a preference for an all-seam attack at Lord’s and due to a preference for hype in the third. Did not look terribly good on an admittedly flat pitch at Trent Bridge, however as KP and Strauss scored at will off him.
Assad Fudadin – 2
Hard to say a lot about a 110 ball 28, apart from it being twenty more runs that Kirk Edwards had scored at that position in the entire series before then. No worse than any other member of the West Indian top four.
Tino Best – 7
Came in for just the last Test, but what a Test he had! Made the highest ever score by a number eleven with an aggressive but technically sound innings. Deserved a century, but suffered a rush of blood on 95. Also picked up some wickets in England’s abbreviated response.
Sunil Narine – 0
Victim of a flat pitch and two of the best players of spin in Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, but his 0-70 still did not come close to living up to the massive hype that surrounded his belated arrival. His ‘mystery’ could not even fool the number eleven, Steven Finn.