West Indies labour in huge chase
England 328 for 7 (Prior 87, Shah 75, Strauss 52, Taylor 3-59) beat West Indies 270 (Chanderpaul 68, Ramdin 45, Anderson 3-58)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England's batsmen took their turn to set up an emphatic victory as the home side wrapped up the one-day series with a thumping 58-run success at Edgbaston. Matt Prior's career-best 87, and a 149-run stand with Owais Shah who made 75, powered England to an imposing 328 and once Chris Gayle fell early there was never any chance of West Indies getting near.
This latest hammering completes a forgettable and depressing tour for West Indies, whose performances showed that they never wanted to be here despite the hefty tour fee they have earned. Despite pre-match talk from Gayle of turning the tour around it was their early effort in the field that spoke loudest, with sloppy groundwork and woeful bowling. Then they showed little desire to make a decent fist of the chase, typified by Shivnarine Chanderpaul who pottered to his fifty off 96 balls when the asking-rate was in double figures.
England can't be blamed for making it a one-sided contest and a one-sided series. They have done all that could have been asked of them in the opening weeks of the season, following up their convincing Test wins with efficient displays of one-day cricket. In terms of developing a team that can win from different positions, batting first was a useful experience as it meant they had to pace the innings and assess what a decent target would be.
In the end 328, which was the highest ODI total at Edgbaston, and their sixth-highest of all time, was well above-par on a sluggish surface. They were rarely under pressure after Andrew Strauss, in his last international outing before the Ashes, and Ravi Bopara opened with a stand of 81. England's use of the batting Powerplay has often come under scrutiny, but here they made full use of it by adding 55 in five overs as Prior and Shah cut loose and clean late striking meant 98 off the last 10.
They were aided by a poor bowling display as the visiting attack failed to offer any control while the fielding hadn't improved from the lazy standard that has characterised the trip. Fidel Edwards, recalled after surprisingly missing the Bristol game, was introduced for the tenth over and nearly removed Strauss, on 16 at the time, with his third ball, but Kieron Pollard spilled a tough chance at point. He'd made good ground to reach the ball, but couldn't hold on as his elbows hit the turf.
Bopara began moving through the gears with consecutive boundaries off Edwards' next over before being undone by the lack of pace in the surface, chopping into his stumps against Dwayne Bravo. However, West Indies couldn't take the opportunity to apply pressure as Edwards gave Prior early width for his favourite cut shot. Prior and Strauss ran well between the wickets and the England captain even brought out the reverse sweep against Sulieman Benn.
Since his return to the one-day team in West Indies, Strauss has shown an innovation to his limited-overs batting that wasn't there before. His half-century was brought up with another deft sweep against Benn, but off the next delivery he faced the ball beat the outside edge, Strauss was slow in sliding his foot back behind the line and Denesh Ramdin noticed the slow reactions and completed the stumping.
Prior and Shah consolidated briefly, but didn't have to work too hard to increase the run-rate as Gayle kept his field deeply set. Prior's fifty came off 53 balls and as usual was especially strong through the off side. He had been told to play like a proper batsman, as he does in the Test arena, and this was the ideal innings for the situation.
With two players set it was the signal for the batting Powerplay and Shah immediately tore into Edwards with a thumping pull that barely slowed down despite striking Ramaresh Sarwan painfully on the wrist at midwicket. Shah's display was much more reminiscent of the free-flowing batsman Middlesex fans know so well, rather than the nervous, tense version that failed to cement a Test place this winter. He twice cleared the midwicket boundary with huge blows before being caught on the rope attempting another to end a stand of 149 in 20 overs.
If they were to have any realistic hope of chasing down 329, West Indies needed a big innings from their captain, but after two early boundaries Gayle fell in the third over when he spooned an attempted pull to mid-on. After a brief shower, Sarwan opened his account with consecutive fours off Stuart Broad only to fall in the next over when he miscued a drive to cover where Strauss held a smart one-handed catch jumping to his left.
Runako Morton was run out after a communication breakdown when he turned for a second and saw Chanderpaul rooted to his crease. It was the sort of mistake that has appeared throughout West Indies cricket in recent weeks, but also highlighted the sharpness in England's play.
Bravo at least provided a momentary spark with two sixes off Dimitri Mascarenhas, but his fun ended when the deserving Tim Bresnan trapped him on the back foot. From there the game drifted towards a soporific finish, a suitable climax to a tour that won't linger long in the memory. It must be hoped that the ICC World Twenty20 can spark the summer into life.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo