England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Riverside, 5th day May 19, 2009

An embarassing defeat

The defeat in the second Test, completed quarter-hour after lunch yesterday, was as swift, embarrassing and emphatic and brought about by the same factors as those at Headingley in 2000 and 2007

The defeat in the second Test, completed quarter-hour after lunch yesterday, was as swift, embarrassing and emphatic and brought about by the same factors as those at Headingley in 2000 and 2007.

The former was the forgettable capitulation by an innings and 39 runs in two days, capped by the all-out 61 in the second innings. The margin in the latter was as massive as it has ever been, an innings and 283 runs, West Indies routed for 146 and 141 from a combined 79.1 overs.

Here the loss was by an innings and 83, its extent heightened by the handing back of the Wisden Trophy just two months after it had been regained through stout resistance and determination.

At least, there was another classical hundred from Ramnaresh Sarwan, inevitable fight from Shivnarine Chanderpaul and another half-century from Denesh Ramdin. But these were scraps. The pickings from these couple of matches have been lean indeed.

Significantly, Sarwan, then a novice 20-year-old, was the only man left standing in both innings in 2000, unbeaten 53 and 19. Now he is one of the finest batsmen of his time. Alas, there was no new Sarwan in the ranks this time. There were extenuating circumstances in the heavy loss two years ago. Sarwan, in his second match as captain, dislocated his shoulder in the field and couldn't bat in both innings and Chanderpaul, down with the flu, was absent altogether. As it was, only Dwayne Bravo managed 50.

There is a common denominator to all three matches. In all the conditions were typically English. Headingley and Chester-le-Street are Test cricket's northernmost grounds. Each time the temperatures have varied between chilly and downright arctic and it was either threatening to rain or raining.

The upshot was that the ball swung in the air and moved off the pitch. Englishmen who have cut their teeth in such an environment, and those who play here regularly, know what is required. They apply the necessary batting method of playing late and are aware of the length and line to bowl.

Modern West Indians, with flawed techniques cultivated in sub-standard regional cricket and with little or no experience of county, even league cricket, find it impossible to cope. The contrast between West Indies' attack and England's in this match was as wide as the result itself.

As England amassed their 569 for 6 declared, Fidel Edwards, Jerome Taylor and Lionel Baker seldom looked like taking a wicket. James Anderson and Stuart Broad appeared to be propelling hand grenades. If one newcomer, Tim Bresnan, doesn't look to have what it takes at this level, the other, Graham Onions, did but their real test will be against Australia two months hence when there will be less in the conditions, and the opposition, to encourage them.

Edwards bowled faster than anyone on either side but was distracted by some silly sideshow with James Anderson, the night-watchman, who he repeatedly bounced as he might have, but didn't, those higher in the order such as Ravi Bopara, a compulsive hooker. Had he stuck to his discipline of Lord's, with the consequent swing at pace, he would surely have had the same success.

Anderson, the deserving Man of the Match, made the ball talk. He swung it in, he swung it out, at speeds in the mid-80 mph and above, seldom giving the batsmen respite. Broad, tall with a high action, was fast and hostile. His dismissals of Sarwan and Chanderpaul in the first innings were high-class. More accomplished batsmen than the lesser West Indians would have been hard-pressed to keep them out. Their equivalents in 2000 were Darren Gough and Andy Caddick, in 2007, Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison.

This was a series the West Indies players clearly didn't want and weren't prepared for. The unprofessionalism of their attitude has been cruelly exposed by opponents out to avenge their preceding indignities in the Caribbean and impose their superiority. The three ODIs that follow offer the immediate chance to restore confidence. It won't be easy.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years