HARD FOUGHT, WELL WON West Indies won the Digicel five match test series against England when they saved off defeat in the final test in Trinidad, thus winning the Wisden Trophy for the first time in this millennium and their first series victory in the last five years. It was a wonderful series for the home team, not necessarily because of the fact that we won but more so in the manner in which all the players performed. It seems a happy transformation from what we”ve been accustomed to for the past 15 years. England messed up terribly in Jamaica and Jerome Taylor took advantage of their under preparedness and other weaknesses. From then onwards the visitors made tremendous strides and fought hard to level the series, but failed. Delayed declarations in Antigua and Trinidad seemed the main cause for their failures. Focusing on this last match, it seems as though management and captain decided early that a drawn match would guarantee a series victory and picked a team for that very purpose. The entire approach from then spoke volumes and barring an hour of hostility from Fidel Edwards late on the fourth afternoon, a drawn match was written over the attitudes and faces of the players. It was a series where the referral system was on trial and with all the pros and cons about it, I”m happy to know that players do have an option to request a review of what transpired in particular instances. Such referrals have seen poor decisions being overturned and players getting just reward. In due time the system will be ably monitored. Highly capable umpires should then be able to minimize mistakes and ironing out of visible wrinkles will fall in line. Very little ratings have been bestowed upon Brendan Nash and it showed that determination and grit are key attributes for success. Nash seemingly had difficulties feeling accepted within the team but when he got in the middle he did what was required and must be fully accepted as one of the boys by now. Apart from Ramnaresh Sarwan the other batsmen were decent without showing anything new. Ramdin got his first test century and will be a more comfortable vice captain. Devon Smith will be given more opportunities and Lionel Baker will also be held closer for more games. I believe Sulleman Benn also bowled well enough to book his flight on the next tour and with Dwayne Bravo seen back in the field of play, our future looks brighter than any time in the recent past. Let me say that England looks pretty good and could be considered somewhat unfortunate to lose the series. Captain Andrew Strauss batted very well as did most of the batsmen. Cook was steady and decent. Kevin Peitersen was tremendous and proved why he was bought for the highest price for the upcoming ICL. Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah also got very good scores. Matt Prior and the second wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose both batted well with Prior getting a century and Ambrose 76 not out in the only test match he played. Spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar got decent wickets while the fast men held their own. With Andrew Flintoff’s limited participation in the series meant also that England suffered a major blow. My thrill, however, was the inspired bowling on the last day in particular, by James Anderson. He bowled magnificently and with very little fanfare. His facial expressions were pleasant to behold as he bowled his heart out for a victory. Great control, sensible and noteworthy variations, heart, mind and soul manifested themselves in the spells he bowled. An improving master of his craft along with his humility, Jimmy Anderson will continue to reap good rewards for England. Chris Gayle must also be applauded for his leadership. He has been able to ensure the players all give of their best in the games. Despite his laidback attitude and coolness he brought what was necessary to the table as captain and the series win is quite fitting for him, the team and all West Indians. The return series in England that starts in April will be a true test for our players. Being away from home in different conditions will be a true challenge. With England in home conditions and from what was displayed by their players in this series, West Indies will have to come forth with exemplary performances in order to retain the Wisden Trophy. Before then, however, the ODI series will be another interesting matter. With Gayle not expecting to be available for all the matches it could be an opportunity for the England team to redeem themselves. It’s going to be an exciting and interesting 5 match series.
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