Sarwan looks forward with confidence
West Indies' captain, Ramnaresh Sarwan, said that his side would head north to Headingley on Tuesday in high spirits after coming through the first Test at Lord's with the series level and their players reacquainted with the rigours of Test cricket. The team had entered the match with just 48 overs of practice after rain had decimated their one warm-up against Somerset, but some spirited batting against a depleted England bowling attack ensured they were never in danger of defeat.
"There was a lot being said about us and obviously our preparation coming into the Test match," said Sarwan. "But that was the least of my problems. Getting the guys in the right frame of mind, encouraging them to be mentally tough, was the most important thing, as we haven't had much time leading up to the match. But I've got no complaints - everyone played their part, especially the batters."
The West Indian batting performances couldn't match the explosiveness of England's, who outscored them five centuries to none. But they nonetheless kept doing their best even into the final day, as Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga added an unbeaten opening stand of 89 before the game was lost to the elements. Seeing as this was the first match of the post-Brian Lara era, it was especially pleasing to Sarwan. "This is going to give us a lot of confidence, having not being playing that well in Test matches [recently]. It'll give us a boost and hopefully we can drive on from here."
Lara opened an exhibition of his career in the Lord's museum on the eve of the Test, and was a spectator throughout the match. "Having Brian watching was very strange," admitted Sarwan. "But he came into the dressing-room on the first day, and told me to just hang in there. It was really good to know he was around and still here supporting us."
West Indies' task was made significantly easier in the 26th over of their innings, when Matthew Hoggard pulled up lame with a groin strain. "They missed him, obviously," said Sarwan. "He's one of their senior bowlers and he's capable of winning matches for them. We'd be happy if he doesn't play the second Test, but we're not too worried. Whoever's playing, we're sure we'll look forward to the challenge and be capable of handling it."
England's stand-in captain, Andrew Strauss - who is set to hand the reins back to Michael Vaughan at Headingley - said he was not too worried by England's failure to force victory. "It's the first Test of the summer and the first time we've played five-day cricket for a long while," he said. "We're readjusting to it, but we're happy with the batting and the way we scored. Clearly there's things to work on for the next game and beyond, but if we improve we should win.
"I don't think we ever ruled [West Indies] out as a side," he insisted. "They've got some talented players, but I think we know if we put them under pressure we've got a good chance of getting on top of them. We've scored runs all the way down the order, and though they've had some useful batting, it doesn't deflect from our point of view that, if we get it right later on in the summer, we can be successful. I don't think a lot's changed from before this Test."
"They've got some good players, certainly in the batting department," added Peter Moores, England's new coach, who said that he had enjoyed his first experience at the helm. "But five centuries and Monty's six-fer is some real momentum we can take forward to Headingley. They'll take some as well because they played well, but this was a good game and there's a lot of cricket to come in the reason of the summer."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo