England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 5th day June 11, 2012

Not perfect, but an efficient job from England

Tougher challenges await for England and there are a couple of areas to sort out, but the series victory against West Indies highlighted their solidity as a Test side
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Sometimes on a long journey it is worth pausing to reflect on what progress has been made. There was a time, not so long ago, when a 2-0 series victory by England over West Indies would have been celebrated as little short of a spectacular.

But, in the last couple of years, England have climbed to the top of the Test and Twenty20 rankings. It speaks volumes for their improvement - and West Indies' decline - that this series result surprised nobody. It was not always like this and it will not always be like this in the future. Indeed, in years to come and despite the bumps in the road experienced in the UAE, we may reflect on this as the golden age of English cricket.

Whether that age is to be sustained remains to be seen. Certainly the next 18-months contains tougher tests and how England come through them will define the legacy of the team. Quite apart from the Ashes and the South African challenge, they have serious questions to answer about their adaptability to Asian conditions.

However, they can look back on this series against West Indies and congratulate themselves on an efficient job. England were pushed hard at times, but there were very few real periods of tension. England, persistent, disciplined and relentless, may not be the team with the most flair in Test cricket. But they make fewer mistakes than most. With their long batting line-up and an excellent first choice bowling attack, they remain tough to beat in England, at least.

It is worth reflecting, too, on some of the questions that hung over the side heading into the series. Most pertinently, there were doubts - quite reasonable doubts - over Andrew Strauss' future as a Test batsman. To a lesser extent, there were concerns over Ian Bell, too, doubts over who should fill the No. 6 position and who should be the third seamer.

We have enjoyed fewer than 11 full days of Test cricket in this series, yet all but one of those questions has been answered with reassuring confidence. Strauss, with two centuries in the first two Tests, proved his worth and won the Man-of-the-Series award for England. Bell averaged over 100 and produced three half-centuries, including some sublime strokes at Edgbaston and some calm batting under pressure at Lord's. Tim Bresnan won the Man-of-the-Match award at Trent Bridge with an all-round performance that underlined his worth to the team.

Only Jonny Bairstow failed to take the opportunity. While he has not looked out of place in the international environment, he failed to score the runs that might have guaranteed his selection for the series against South Africa. It would be premature to reach conclusions about a 22-year-old with only three completed innings behind him, but the fact is that four of England's top seven made centuries on Test debut and, after three Tests, Bairstow averages 12.66. International sport is brutal and impatient.

Andy Flower offered encouraging words for Bairstow, however. "We should be careful not to judge him too harshly," Flower said. "He's a really good young man. A strong, hungry young cricketer and he has a very high ceiling. None of us know if he'll be a successful international cricketer or not but he's played a couple of limited-overs games already where he's helped win games for England. He's a quick learner. There's a history of good young cricketers coming in getting a taste of international cricket and coming back stronger, even if they've not had a hugely successful start."

England, persistent, disciplined and relentless, may not be the team with the most flair in Test cricket. But they make fewer mistakes than most

There were a couple of other areas of concern for England. The first session of the fourth day at Edgbaston represented, arguably, England's worst session in the field for several years. While it would be unwise to read too much into one session when a tailender played the innings of his life on a pristine batting surface, it does seem fair to conclude that James Anderson and Stuart Broad's positions as first choice bowlers remain unquestioned. Graham Onions, in particular, bowled impressively, but he will, for now, remain reliant on rotation and injury for his opportunities.

"One of the things about missing a couple of your senior players is it makes you realise what role they do play in the side," Strauss said afterwards. "It also allows you to see what role the other guys could play in the side. I think the picture is a lot clearer now.

"We came to this Test with every intention of Broad playing. It was a last-minute thing that he didn't play. Although we didn't play brilliantly, I am very comfortable and happy that we made that decision, because it will serve us well come the South Africa series. Onions and Steven Finn both showed that they are definitely Test quality bowlers."

Perhaps England also missed Paul Collingwood. Maybe that sounds strange - Collingwood has not played Test cricket since the Ashes in early 2011 - and it was not so much for his determined batting or occasional bowling that was missed. But his excellent catching at third slip has not been replaced and, with Ian Bell dropping two chances in the position at Edgbaston, it is an area England must improve before South Africa arrive.

Had England taken their catches on the third day, they may well have wrapped up the West Indies' first innings before stumps that evening. If they drop Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis or AB de Villiers, it could well cost them a Test. Anderson, excellent in all fielding positions, cannot be there all the time as he will often be bowling.

"The catching was disappointing," Strauss admitted. "That's something we need to get better at. The third slip area is one where we need to develop someone to do an all-round job, rather than chopping and changing. We've got a number of guys with great hands in our side. Bell fields at slip for Warwickshire and Alastair Cook has got good hands, but it's about someone getting used to that position and you've got to give them time to do that. That's something we have to work on.

"But I think by and large we are very happy to have won the series. The West Indies have got some dangerous players, but we were able to overcome that challenge and we obviously go into our next Test assignment in good fettle and feeling confident. We are also aware that there are definitely areas in which we need to improve.

"We played enough good cricket in those first two Tests to win reasonably comfortably. This Test was frustrating for all sorts of reasons. Clearly the rain wiping out the first two days doesn't help with the intensity of the cricket and we certainly didn't get everything right when we were out there in the field. There are definitely areas we need to sharpen up on. Obviously we dropped a few catches and you don't want to be in a situation where their No. 11 gets 95 all that often. We're probably aware that we need to improve our standards a bit before that South Africa series starts."

With Strauss not involved in England's limited-overs teams or Middlesex's Friends Life t20 side, he will spend some time in the nets over the coming weeks. As Middlesex only have one first-class game - against Nottinghamshire at Uxbridge from July 11 - there remains the possibility that he will once again be 'loaned' to Somerset for a two-day game against the South Africans at Taunton on July 9 and 10.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on June 14, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 14 2012, 03:37 AM GMT) I t depends how folk want to interpret it but the stats are that Ind didn't exceed 300 in 8 inns which I'm guessing is unprecedented with that line up , so I would say Eng prob did their homework and worked out where they were more likely to get these guys out. Anyway the point is that just like Eng lost 3-0 in UAE withby and large the same set of players who beat India 4-0 , India lost 4-0 to Eng with pretty much the same set of players which drew 1-1 with SA - and the selectors must have still thought the batsmen were of top standard because 5 out of 6 were picked (just Kohli for Raina) and kept faith with for the whole Aus series. Vs Pakistan . I personally wanted them to change formation to a 5 man bowling attack but they didn't so we have to live with those selectors decisions as there is no evidence to suggest that it would definitely have changed things for the better. Cheers

  • jango_moh on June 14, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    @JG2704... partially agree with you there, eng were def better and in great form esp in their own backyard... but i wud beg to disagree that the likes of tendulkar, laxman had their "weakness" exposed on that tour.. and 7/8 months is a long time i think esp when players are close to retirement... another eg is sreesanth who bowled brilliantly in SA, he swung the ball like a banana and at good pace... he just didnt quite show up in eng except for the second match 1st innings... remember, india won the prev series in eng under similar conditions and with pretty good bowlers.... no excuses tho, i hope the new crop does well going forward... cant wait for the SA ENG series tho... shud be a cracker!!!!

  • JG2704 on June 13, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 13 2012, 14:07 PM GMT) Thanks for your response. Could it not be that England actually had a better game plan to face India and had a greater intensity , relentlessness about them compared to SA. With the exception of Zaheer it was the same players who drew with SA 7-8 months earlier. My point is that while India were bad - and I'm not saying India were always bad or a hype job and didn't deserve their ranking - Do England not deserve credit for exposing weaknesses ? Something which SA could not do 7-8 months earlier. They may also have given Aus the blueprint on how to beat India. I know our series in India will be much much tougher BTW. Thanks for your response

  • Yorks1 on June 13, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Interesting on the slip fielding. many years ago England picked former selector Phil Sharpe essentially for his slip fielding the strogest art of his game. England can't afford dropped catches against the top tier teams and with Anderson toiling away with the ball he is still their best catcher. While young Jonny Bairstow has struggled with the bat he is a top wicket keeper and it is a pity not to capitalize on these skills; should be playing him in the slips which will help him to cement his place in the team. His fielding probably rates right up there with Collingwood. Can't understand why the scribes haven't jumped on this one.

  • whatawicket on June 13, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    meety watch out for the splinters. i know cricket can be a to and fro game but you have covered all scenarios in your letter

  • jango_moh on June 13, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @JG2704... agreed... i dont really have an explanation as to why they did so poorly... all i would say is they had been playing well upto and including the SA series, (check india's away record in the last few years prior to SA series, and ull know wat i mean) but once they lost big to eng, the old players lost confidence i guess...

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    @yorkshirematt - its not really rubbish, as on paper the Saffas are the better side, (read statistically). Unfortunately (for Saffa fans), there is always the long lasting stigma of choking that is attached to the team. If both sides play their BEST cricket (which as a neutral is all I want to see), I imagine the Saffas are the better side. What I suspect MAY happen though, is something like the 09 Ashes, where the statistically better side during the series lost. What happens in those (annoying for the losers) circumstances is the big moments are won by the victors. That is how I see England winning the series, they will at times get mauled by the Saffas without being knocked out, & then their retribution is swift & total. Under the assumption the Saffas staunch up, I think they'll win, either way, I am looking for a see-sawing tussle, hard fought blood, sweat & tears Test match cricket! Hopefully NO RAIN! (BTW - my comment does read a bit like a Rugby preview!)

  • g.narsimha on June 13, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    YORKSHIREPUDDING-PL go through my coments again i never said WI WAS IN WINNING POSITION, in cricket there is no ifs & buts nobody can gaurantee that ENG 200 runs behind with the tail they can fight it out to reduce the lead to just to 40-50 as u thought ,

  • yorkshirematt on June 13, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @cpt.meanster Yes I agree, our cricketers are far better than our footballers in their respective sports. They played like the underdogs they were the other day but were rarely troubled. Our cricketers will play like they are at the very least equal to SA, and they too will not be threatened as much as people say they will be.

  • JG2704 on June 13, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 13 2012, 01:25 AM GMT) I'm just pointing out the facts. Also re deterioration - Eng beat Ind just 7-8 months after the same India side drew in SA. The only Indian player of note missing from the Eng series was Zaheer and the winning margins were so great in that series that he may have closed the gap but the results would have been the same. Obviously India were exceptionally poor and Eng played out of their skins but by and large they beat the same Indian side that SA drew with 7-8 months earlier.

  • JG2704 on June 14, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 14 2012, 03:37 AM GMT) I t depends how folk want to interpret it but the stats are that Ind didn't exceed 300 in 8 inns which I'm guessing is unprecedented with that line up , so I would say Eng prob did their homework and worked out where they were more likely to get these guys out. Anyway the point is that just like Eng lost 3-0 in UAE withby and large the same set of players who beat India 4-0 , India lost 4-0 to Eng with pretty much the same set of players which drew 1-1 with SA - and the selectors must have still thought the batsmen were of top standard because 5 out of 6 were picked (just Kohli for Raina) and kept faith with for the whole Aus series. Vs Pakistan . I personally wanted them to change formation to a 5 man bowling attack but they didn't so we have to live with those selectors decisions as there is no evidence to suggest that it would definitely have changed things for the better. Cheers

  • jango_moh on June 14, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    @JG2704... partially agree with you there, eng were def better and in great form esp in their own backyard... but i wud beg to disagree that the likes of tendulkar, laxman had their "weakness" exposed on that tour.. and 7/8 months is a long time i think esp when players are close to retirement... another eg is sreesanth who bowled brilliantly in SA, he swung the ball like a banana and at good pace... he just didnt quite show up in eng except for the second match 1st innings... remember, india won the prev series in eng under similar conditions and with pretty good bowlers.... no excuses tho, i hope the new crop does well going forward... cant wait for the SA ENG series tho... shud be a cracker!!!!

  • JG2704 on June 13, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 13 2012, 14:07 PM GMT) Thanks for your response. Could it not be that England actually had a better game plan to face India and had a greater intensity , relentlessness about them compared to SA. With the exception of Zaheer it was the same players who drew with SA 7-8 months earlier. My point is that while India were bad - and I'm not saying India were always bad or a hype job and didn't deserve their ranking - Do England not deserve credit for exposing weaknesses ? Something which SA could not do 7-8 months earlier. They may also have given Aus the blueprint on how to beat India. I know our series in India will be much much tougher BTW. Thanks for your response

  • Yorks1 on June 13, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Interesting on the slip fielding. many years ago England picked former selector Phil Sharpe essentially for his slip fielding the strogest art of his game. England can't afford dropped catches against the top tier teams and with Anderson toiling away with the ball he is still their best catcher. While young Jonny Bairstow has struggled with the bat he is a top wicket keeper and it is a pity not to capitalize on these skills; should be playing him in the slips which will help him to cement his place in the team. His fielding probably rates right up there with Collingwood. Can't understand why the scribes haven't jumped on this one.

  • whatawicket on June 13, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    meety watch out for the splinters. i know cricket can be a to and fro game but you have covered all scenarios in your letter

  • jango_moh on June 13, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @JG2704... agreed... i dont really have an explanation as to why they did so poorly... all i would say is they had been playing well upto and including the SA series, (check india's away record in the last few years prior to SA series, and ull know wat i mean) but once they lost big to eng, the old players lost confidence i guess...

  • Meety on June 13, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    @yorkshirematt - its not really rubbish, as on paper the Saffas are the better side, (read statistically). Unfortunately (for Saffa fans), there is always the long lasting stigma of choking that is attached to the team. If both sides play their BEST cricket (which as a neutral is all I want to see), I imagine the Saffas are the better side. What I suspect MAY happen though, is something like the 09 Ashes, where the statistically better side during the series lost. What happens in those (annoying for the losers) circumstances is the big moments are won by the victors. That is how I see England winning the series, they will at times get mauled by the Saffas without being knocked out, & then their retribution is swift & total. Under the assumption the Saffas staunch up, I think they'll win, either way, I am looking for a see-sawing tussle, hard fought blood, sweat & tears Test match cricket! Hopefully NO RAIN! (BTW - my comment does read a bit like a Rugby preview!)

  • g.narsimha on June 13, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    YORKSHIREPUDDING-PL go through my coments again i never said WI WAS IN WINNING POSITION, in cricket there is no ifs & buts nobody can gaurantee that ENG 200 runs behind with the tail they can fight it out to reduce the lead to just to 40-50 as u thought ,

  • yorkshirematt on June 13, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @cpt.meanster Yes I agree, our cricketers are far better than our footballers in their respective sports. They played like the underdogs they were the other day but were rarely troubled. Our cricketers will play like they are at the very least equal to SA, and they too will not be threatened as much as people say they will be.

  • JG2704 on June 13, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    @jango_moh on (June 13 2012, 01:25 AM GMT) I'm just pointing out the facts. Also re deterioration - Eng beat Ind just 7-8 months after the same India side drew in SA. The only Indian player of note missing from the Eng series was Zaheer and the winning margins were so great in that series that he may have closed the gap but the results would have been the same. Obviously India were exceptionally poor and Eng played out of their skins but by and large they beat the same Indian side that SA drew with 7-8 months earlier.

  • MrBrightside92 on June 13, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Good to see Mr D-G. They have to write something but there is nothing in the conclusions that are false, just difficult to prove in context of opposition and conditions. Great performance against France, first game and they looked organised and together. Anybody seeing the debacle in the World Cup (both football AND cricket) would conclude a much improved and promising showing! Speaking of ODI's who in WI team are going to get the wickets if Narine (and I'm a big fan) don't succeed? The WI batting looks strong but if England get early wickets. Eng got mashed by Oz in 2009 but have won all the home series since then? (I may be wrong..)...either way I think we'll be too strong for the Swedes...

  • AKS286 on June 13, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Every team is strong in their home condition except WI, what is soo amazing in it?

  • YorkshirePudding on June 13, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    @g.narsimha, how was the last test shaping up for a west indies win, england 206 runs behind with 5 wickets in thier first innings, likley to avoid the follow on and reduce that gap to 40-50 as the WI's have frequently failed to prevent runs from the tail. It should also be noted that the WI's collapse in at least one of thier two innings each test so England may have been looking at 250-300 run chase over 2 days, which was and entirely possible.

  • smartguy786 on June 13, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    England will always win their games when the local conditions suit them well esp in early season. this does not help in judging them as a team.

  • Cpt.Meanster on June 13, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    @yorkshirematt: Well you gotta admit England's defense was ridiculous against the French. Too many wasted opportunities for France which I am sure had it been another team like Germany or Spain would have capitalized on. I do support England in soccer but I don't think they have the quality to go past the quarters. Meanwhile in cricket...

  • jango_moh on June 13, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    @JG2704... about SA not having beaten any big side... atleast from an indian perspective, we were a much better team (read "playing well away)... so our tour to SA resulted in a 1-1 result, some really good matches!!! obviously the team has deteriorated now, and need to rebuild... looking forward to a great series b/w ENG and SA btw....

  • yorkshirematt on June 13, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    All this rubbish from certain people on here about SA reminds me of the build up to England v France in the football. Everyone was saying how much better the french were and how they were going to walk all over us, despite not having a great record themselves recently, yet we kept them at arms length and never looked under much threat. I expect the upcoming test series to be the same. And possibly the same result 1-1.

  • Patchmaster on June 12, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Can anyone tell me why Compton isn't getting a look in ? SURELY he must get the nod at some point ?

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    @Giovaughn Wilson So if Narine and Shillingford should not be judged too harshly in cold and wet conditions more suited for fast bowling then neither should Swann even if he has done well in such conditions in the past. The grass is always greener when it comes to selection. I'm sure at the start of the series there were those who were naming their WI side and having guys like Pollard or Dwayne B instead of Samuels. There were comms saying what the hell was Gabriel being selected for and Tino's recall was very unpopular. Besides Gayle - Narine was the most mentioned player as a changer of WI fortunes. I know that it was a non spinning pitch so I'm not saying he won't become a great test bowler but I was trying to tell folk how hard it would be for him going from IPL to tests in Eng. Also WI did give Eng a run for their money and the 3rd test could have gone either way had it gone the course

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    @Henrik Lovén on (June 12 2012, 15:21 PM GMT) Personally I'd do the 5 bowlers thing. Prior at 7 and Bres at 8 have been averaging more than whoever we have had at 6 and a 5 man attack means greater intensity and we would not be losing much - if anything - battingwise. Realistically I too would put Compton in at 6 - he has been in immense form this year and even in the last game vs Middx he saved the game for Somerset. I don't however feel that the time is right for bringing in Kerrigan in such a huge series. I think however Eng will either stick with Bairstow or bring back Bopata

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 20:24 GMT

    I think ESPN ought to correct their series results for SA. It is showing that they are drawing many of their series and haven't beaten a top 4 ranked side home or away since Jan 7 2009 when they beat Australia. Obviously this must be incorrect because SA are unfairly denied the number 1 spot and their bowlers are ripping through every batting line up everywhere they play - Is that not correct?

  • Nutcutlet on June 12, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    You can only beat the side in front of you. England did that with some ease, yet there were moments in all three tests when the WIndies were within an ace of wrestling the initiative from England. The WIndies top order is as wet behind the ears as can be found amongst major (i.e. not Zim or B'desh) Test playing nations & predictably they were blown away. But the WIndies tail wagged regularly - and a side with a truly ruthless streak would not have allowed a side 4 down back into the game. This is where England scored poor marks. It will not have escaped SA's notice that England lacks the killer instinct that is the hallmark of a truly great Test side. IMO, either the WIndies are better than all the pundits believed, or England is no more than a good side that, at its best, operates with professionalism & efficiency. When catches go down and #11 belts 95 in no time, England doesn't look anything approaching a great side. A couple of like off-sessions v SA & there'll be no way back!

  • hhillbumper on June 12, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Randy Oz-yeah we are panicking.At least our bowlers can go more than 1 game without getting injured.Can't wait for next years ashes as it will be good to hear your measured excuses as to why you lost

  • AKS286 on June 12, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    yes eng bowler upsets. naraine sinks KKR & bravo sinks CSK in the IPL final. SA deadly barrage is ready. SA don't have the good spinner so SA must go for one allrounder like van der merve or one pace bowling all rounder. but eng is having a world class spinner but against ineligible test team i.e. WI swann flops. against SA swann must play. about bresnan- don't consider him as a bowler but treat him as a all rounder. so, on the place bairstow bresnan should bat and bring finn,onion or one more all rounder like clarke & wright.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on June 12, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    This series victory honestly doesn't say much about England's solidity in tests. Success at home against Windies, why do you want to draw any false conclusions?

  • Raiyan24r on June 12, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    where is narine(0-70) in the 'real' cricket.

  • on June 12, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    The fact is that Swann the #1 test spinner who has a vastly greater amount of experience than Narine was out bowled by our part time spinner Marlon on Swann's home grounds. Shillingford & Narine should not be judged too harshly for not taking bucket loads of wickets in cold & wet foreign conditions more suited to fast bowling. However conceding 200+ runs @ over 4 an over while not troubling the batsmen enough to get wickets is almost unforgivable. Personally I wood have stuck with a 4 pace attack & Sammy if our bowlers could have stayed fit the whole series. Some may argue that woodve weakened the batting but the bowler coming in would be highly unlikely to do worse than some of our top order batsmen. A fully fit combination of any 4 of Gabriel, Roach, Fidel, Rampaul Best + Sammy along with a much stronger top order with Gayle & Sarwan to help Samuels with the batting & spin bowling & the ever resilient Chanderpaul could have given England a better run for their money

  • g.narsimha on June 12, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    The TEAM which lost 4 out of 5 in asia in a trot & back on the track in own back yard by beating a deplated wi 2-0 u people start jumping , the way thev 3rd test was shaping as windies had upper hand I CANT SEE POMS DOING ANY THING exraordinary against SA & aus , be ready for tough times .

  • MrPontingToYou on June 12, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    decent enough job. strauss needs to be more aggressive as a captain tho, there are times when you really need to force an opportunity, rather than wait or expect a reduction in the run rate to create one. almost forgot what a lovely bowler onions is to watch, wish he would start more. other than bairstow being replaced, hopefully by taylor, england look ready for sa.

  • jango_moh on June 12, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    Ignorance is bliss!!!! i dont think eng showed any real improvement this series... as an indian fan, i would not judge vvs laxman's form by his scores in the upcoming home series, bcos he struggled abroad, and that is vital... same is the case for eng, they were pushed by WI despite their horrific top order, and that should be a concern if they want to remain #1.

  • on June 12, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Every series should be played with an eye to the future. As four of the top five batsmen have been in the test frame since 2004-6, new players are a must but for the time being, Bairstow has had his look at test cricket and should go back to the Lions - give Compton a chance this summer and keep Morgan up the sleeve! With the number of quality lefthanded batsmen in the game these days, a left-arm spinner is almost a must, so why not take a look at Lancashire's Kerrigan, who is a better long-term prospect than Monty as well as a significantly better fielder and bat, before the SA series starts. Somehow I think it's too late for the best English left-arm spinner of the past ten years, Gary Keedy, to get the call...

  • Herbet on June 12, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    In theory, unless he suffers deteriorating eyesight, there is nothing stopping Andrew Strauss playing test cricket up until his fourties. He barely plays apart from the 10 or so tests a year England play, seen as he doesn't play limited overs internationals, doesn't appear to be in Middlesex's limited overs team, and rarely plays a proper County game. England aren't blessed with a stream of up and coming openers either. The promising batsmen are middle order players.

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    @Peter Walcott on (June 12 2012, 12:29 PM GMT) I actually worry about all aspects of the English game and could not care less about Narine , but sometimes the best of bowlers can go for runs when tail enders are swinging the bat and it's their day. I remember one on the NZ tail enders smacking Phillander about and I certainly wouldn't be so daft as to think that means VP is vulnerable.

  • Puffin on June 12, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    Progress for WI but showing them how far they have to go to climb the test ranking table. England a bit flabby at times, but every so often they have a "golden session" where they completely dominate and thus change the course of the game. Can't be relying on just that against SA. What a shame it is only 3 tests.

  • rayfanatics on June 12, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    If they spice up the pitches for the Basil D'Oliveira trophy, it is going to make for incredible viewing. Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann vs Steyn, Philander, Morkel and De Lange. The batsmen need to be put in their place once in a while.

  • jaycee71 on June 12, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Ken Buchanan, I don't know if my explanation is a "sage" one, but here goes, pitches in England at this time of year very rarely favour the spinners, especially with the very wet summer we are having. Even Swann's home ground, Trent Bridge, is known as a seamer's paradise, and his record there for Notts is not that great. As JG2704 very sagely mentioned, all the talk before this game from excitable IPL fans was how Narine was going to run through England based on the evidence of a few slog-a-thons in India. However, I'm sure he will improve (Warne got 1 for 200 in his 1st test)

  • on June 12, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    watawicket: "their backup bowlers showed that apart from a once in a lifetime innings from best, that as pace bowlers most countries would have at the drop of a hat. all took 3 wickets and when that happens a coach will normally be happy."

    So the coach should be happy because of equal distribution of wickets... I think a coach will be worried if they allowed West Indies to score 426 and Tino Best to score 95. Granted, the fielding was awful

  • whatawicket on June 12, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    peter walcott other than the 2 great spinners of modern times warne and murli. swans figures can stand out with the best of the others. as Best had his day, so swan did not, and the WI newcomer may find he has better days in the future it will be a test that he will not care to remember. however swan will have better days as you just dont stop taken wickets. and when you look at his record he gets good batters out so he must be doing something right and expect he will get 15 + wickets from the 3 test against the saffers

  • whatawicket on June 12, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    england at the end of the 3 test series, were they were pushed a few times in each of the games. but as stated the side will have to step it up a notch or 2 for the saffers. SA know that they also will have to be on top of their game to beat england. the best sides in test cricket will going hammer and tong.i cannot wait, pity we had to have 5 meanless odis. as a 5 test series would have been great. mind if we are winning 2 - 1 after 3 i will take it lol

  • on June 12, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    Well Eng fans. Never mind Narine who is playing in his first test for the first time in Eng. You should worry about your "best spinner in the world" being tonked all over Eng on all the surfaces. Even by the WI No 11

  • RandyOZ on June 12, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    Worringly thing bowling stocks for England have been exposed. We all kew how thin their batting stocks were (I mean just look at all the South Africans), but now the bowling stocks looks just as poor. With Swann and Bell basically dead in the water, the next Ashes is already ours.

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    @Marco Buratti on (June 12 2012, 09:58 AM GMT) By the same token then SA also need to raise their game. SA have some wonderful players and are always really hard to beat but why do people talk about them like their caning everyone in their way. The only common opponent in the last 2 years which SA trumped Eng against was Pakistan in UAE. India(h) , SL (h) , Aus (a) - in all these series Eng have done better than SA

  • JG2704 on June 12, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    @ Ken Buchanan on (June 12 2012, 10:05 AM GMT) For 1 thing you are generalising one person's comments as "All the English fans" and secondly there were a great deal more comments saying how much of a difference Narine would make to the side. Fudadin was another debutant who didn't excel but no one mentioned him at all because no one was hyping him at all beforehand. I was trying to warn those that Narine might not have the same impact in a different format and conditions from IPL straight away but few listen. I'm sure in different conditions and with more experience Narine can become a great test bowler. By the way - re folk (a person) commenting on Narine after 1 test , I've seen a few judgemental comms on Finn and Onions based on this test and both were more successful than Narine and have done the business before

  • on June 12, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Can all the (clearly knowledgeable) English fans slating Narine's performance in one innings on a wicket as far from one favouring spinners as you could imagine, please explain their "World Class" spinner Graham Swann's performance in the entiure series? The same Graham Swann that was outbowled by part timer Marlon Samuels? What more could their hero want? Home conditions, heck he even had his own home ground at Trent Bridge. Please, oh so knowledgable England fans, i await your sage explanation

  • on June 12, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    I was surprised at how competitive West Indies were for large parts of this series, I don't feel it bodes well for the SA series. A lot of improvement needed before that series. England need to pick it up a lot if they are to even think about anything more than a drawn series..

  • whatawicket on June 12, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    england fairly easy series winners and their backup bowlers showed that apart from a once in a lifetime innings from best, that as pace bowlers most countries would have at the drop of a hat. all took 3 wickets and when that happens a coach will normally be happy.

  • 19jra74 on June 12, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    My thoughts on the series were pretty much as I expected before the start. Playing tests so early in the summer always causes problems weatherwise. I remember last year that the Sri Lanka matches were affected quite a bit by rain. England's cricket was solid but not spectacular. I feel that this was never going to be seen as anything but the starter before the main course, almost like practice tests before the SA series. Have a look at Bairstow, Finn and Onions for example which I agreed with. I do think that there should have been at least 4 tests against SA though. Perhaps the WI series given 2 tests. Last year we quite rightly had 4 against India when the number 1 spot was up for grabs. I do feel that the SA team are slightly better on paper but we have more depth in the batting which could well be important and obviously we have aspinner who given the conditions can take 5-10 wickets in a match. Would not be surprised if it ends up a drawn series.

  • wnwn on June 12, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    A good performance by England in the 2 days. Graham Onions and Steven Finn bowled well and it is not their fault that catches were dropped or that fielders were not in place to take catches. I doubt whether James Anderson and Stuart Broad could have won this test match for England in 2 days.

  • ranpath on June 12, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    Don't let the results of the test cricket fool you. WI, while struggling in tests, have always done ok in the limited form of the game and have on occasion in the last few years beaten top sides in the reduced form of the game while struggling and lsoing to the same sides in the longer format. So expect that wi will do better in the limited series and the presence of the returning stars is not wholly responsible for this. Australia struggled to beat wi only because the aussies did not play to their best ability..eg Michael Clarke scored 300 + and other useful scores against India not too long before the wi tour yet could barely cross 50 in the Caribbean. David Warner is an attacking, aggressive batsman who often blazes away at the start of an inning and yet looked a different player on wi pitches. Even Shane Watson looked badly out of touch. The wi players, for the most part, brought their A game to the series and still could not beat a side that was not playing to their best ability.

  • YorkshirePudding on June 12, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    @rahulcricket007, give any spinner a turning pitch and they'll blow away most sides, when will people learn ODIS and T20s are NOT the same as Tests, so to say he was great in ODI's therefore he'll be Great in Tests is at best a flawed argument. Look at Anderson and Excellent England test bowler but average ODI bowler. Narine needs to learn to get more control, and tighten up his bowling to restrict runs, then the wickets will start to come as batsmen look to go after him.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on June 12, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    WI as everyone can see are a new and improved side, but still no match for the best in the world. Australia really struggled against WI, but England go and thrash them 3-0. Oh, The third test was rained off, so we'll call it 3-0 anyway. England remain world number one of course, and cricket lovers all over the world have one heck of a great contest ahead in the next few months between the world's TOP TWO teams. Strauss back scoring centuries again too. Good times.

  • rahulcricket007 on June 12, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    MATTYP1979 . GIVE HIM SOME TURNING PITCHES &YOU WILL SEE HOW LETHAL HE CAN BE . I SAW HIM AGAINST AUS IN ODIS . EVEN PLAYERS LIKE WATSON , HUSSEY WERE STRUGGLING AGANST HIM .

  • MattyP1979 on June 12, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    Well Narine sure blew us away lol. Pinning hopes on such young shoulders is a bit rich, no other nation would hype up bowlers who have played very little, unless of course its Patterson/Cummins of Aus. WI played well but the number 1 test side at home was always asking too much. Bring on the saffers.

  • MattyP1979 on June 11, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    Those critics harping about Eng are taking far too much away from WI. They have just come off a very close series against OZ, and have performed admirally here. If they had all players available too them who knows the results of these two series. Eng have won the series and won it convincingly. Bopara in for Bairstow against SA and we should take that series too.

  • on June 11, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    Well give WI some credit who played without their best players. Replacing Powell and Edwards with Gayle and Sarwan and the series would have had a completely different complex. However well done England, now on to the one days where I expect a complete reversal now WI have their full strength.

  • JG2704 on June 11, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    @navjot2000 on (June 11 2012, 21:01 PM GMT) Finn was leading wicket taker in Aus at the time he was dropped. Personally I'd be happy to still have Finn or/and Onions in any England side

  • on June 11, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    The West Indies are a proud nation who reigned as kings of the cricket world for most of the last 40 years. Their cavalier style, flamboyance, and panache entertained fans all over the world. Those fans long for a resurgence of Windies supremacy! England have shown vulnerability in the truncated Edgbaston Test. This will give the selectors much food for thought! Now, welcome the indomitable CG for the ODIs!

    !

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 11, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    There were few times in the series which really grabbed me. Mostly it was efficient but not overwhelming. In both Tests that finished the batting was rather disappointing; I'd have expected england to twice go past 500 and beyond, and particularly at Trent Bridge it faded away with only Bresnan providing substance when they should have been dismantling WI. The eyecarching moments were when Broad started to run through WI at Lords, and the 61-6 at TB,along with the last day's batting at Lords. KP played a couple of default knocks but did not quite go mental, and Bell played 3 very pleasing knocks. This last test had good moments but the catching Anderson was severely missed. Trott needs a go there for a bit and Bell returned to short leg.Catches win matches etc. The wins were good ones and maybe the WI were just sterner opponents than India-but they wer solid not spectacular. I would leave Bairstoiw to ODI's and find a replacement for SA. Youth may be attractive but Tests are for men.

  • MartinC on June 11, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    George - Jimmy Anderson is the regular 3rd slip and he has been catching flies at that position and as the slip for the spinners.

  • jr2012 on June 11, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Hopeless stuff from English back up bowlers. Flower will be prayer that he has Broad and Anderson full fit during the Saffers visit. Finn is over-rated was expensive in Australia against a mediocre Australian batting line-up, and he has proved us again how poor he is. England need to get Tremlett back ASAP. Bresnan is living on borrowed time. Also Bairstow's Test is over for now this guy can't play short pitch bowling. Time to bring in James Taylor.

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  • jr2012 on June 11, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Hopeless stuff from English back up bowlers. Flower will be prayer that he has Broad and Anderson full fit during the Saffers visit. Finn is over-rated was expensive in Australia against a mediocre Australian batting line-up, and he has proved us again how poor he is. England need to get Tremlett back ASAP. Bresnan is living on borrowed time. Also Bairstow's Test is over for now this guy can't play short pitch bowling. Time to bring in James Taylor.

  • MartinC on June 11, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    George - Jimmy Anderson is the regular 3rd slip and he has been catching flies at that position and as the slip for the spinners.

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 11, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    There were few times in the series which really grabbed me. Mostly it was efficient but not overwhelming. In both Tests that finished the batting was rather disappointing; I'd have expected england to twice go past 500 and beyond, and particularly at Trent Bridge it faded away with only Bresnan providing substance when they should have been dismantling WI. The eyecarching moments were when Broad started to run through WI at Lords, and the 61-6 at TB,along with the last day's batting at Lords. KP played a couple of default knocks but did not quite go mental, and Bell played 3 very pleasing knocks. This last test had good moments but the catching Anderson was severely missed. Trott needs a go there for a bit and Bell returned to short leg.Catches win matches etc. The wins were good ones and maybe the WI were just sterner opponents than India-but they wer solid not spectacular. I would leave Bairstoiw to ODI's and find a replacement for SA. Youth may be attractive but Tests are for men.

  • on June 11, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    The West Indies are a proud nation who reigned as kings of the cricket world for most of the last 40 years. Their cavalier style, flamboyance, and panache entertained fans all over the world. Those fans long for a resurgence of Windies supremacy! England have shown vulnerability in the truncated Edgbaston Test. This will give the selectors much food for thought! Now, welcome the indomitable CG for the ODIs!

    !

  • JG2704 on June 11, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    @navjot2000 on (June 11 2012, 21:01 PM GMT) Finn was leading wicket taker in Aus at the time he was dropped. Personally I'd be happy to still have Finn or/and Onions in any England side

  • on June 11, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    Well give WI some credit who played without their best players. Replacing Powell and Edwards with Gayle and Sarwan and the series would have had a completely different complex. However well done England, now on to the one days where I expect a complete reversal now WI have their full strength.

  • MattyP1979 on June 11, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    Those critics harping about Eng are taking far too much away from WI. They have just come off a very close series against OZ, and have performed admirally here. If they had all players available too them who knows the results of these two series. Eng have won the series and won it convincingly. Bopara in for Bairstow against SA and we should take that series too.

  • MattyP1979 on June 12, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    Well Narine sure blew us away lol. Pinning hopes on such young shoulders is a bit rich, no other nation would hype up bowlers who have played very little, unless of course its Patterson/Cummins of Aus. WI played well but the number 1 test side at home was always asking too much. Bring on the saffers.

  • rahulcricket007 on June 12, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    MATTYP1979 . GIVE HIM SOME TURNING PITCHES &YOU WILL SEE HOW LETHAL HE CAN BE . I SAW HIM AGAINST AUS IN ODIS . EVEN PLAYERS LIKE WATSON , HUSSEY WERE STRUGGLING AGANST HIM .

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on June 12, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    WI as everyone can see are a new and improved side, but still no match for the best in the world. Australia really struggled against WI, but England go and thrash them 3-0. Oh, The third test was rained off, so we'll call it 3-0 anyway. England remain world number one of course, and cricket lovers all over the world have one heck of a great contest ahead in the next few months between the world's TOP TWO teams. Strauss back scoring centuries again too. Good times.