Second Test Match

West Indies v England

At Port-of-Spain, March 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 2004. England won by seven wickets. Toss: West Indies.

Less than a fortnight after the start of the series, England secured their main objective of the tour when they retained the Wisden Trophy, a prize they had barely sniffed for 27 years until 2000. The triumph could have come even quicker: they won after 23 minutes on the final morning of a match in which the equivalent of a whole day's play was lost to rain and bad light.

Once again Harmison was the dominant figure in England's success, and was responsible for perhaps the crucial moment of the series. This came after West Indies had made an excellent start, with Gayle leading the charge in hot, sunny conditions on a pitch with far less pace than its Sabina Park predecessor. His century opening stand with Devon Smith, containing 82 in boundaries, came up in the 25th over. But at that point, clouds filled the blue sky and light rain started to fall. Harmison, whose first spell of six overs had gone for 27, had just changed ends and he got immediate results, dismissing Gayle, then Smith - and made it three in eight deliveries with the vital wicket of Lara. He hit him on the right hand with one that rose sharply from short of a length, then bounced him next ball: Lara could only fend towards gully as he took his eyes off it.

It was the first time in his career that Lara had made successive Test ducks. More significantly, it showed Harmison's earlier success was no fluke. Expectation might have lain heavily on his shoulders, but they were now broad enough for that; and he had a mental edge that enabled him to come back from a trying start to vanquish even his most formidable opponent. West Indies lunched uncomfortably on 110 for three and, after a couple of rain-breaks, Harmison completed his second five-wicket haul of the series; when he finished them off next morning, he had taken 13 in two innings. Arguably, this less bouncy, more uneven pitch was helpful to him since he had the ability to extract life from it in a way lesser bowlers could not.

England's reply followed the same pattern as the First Test. Both openers went cheaply, leaving Butcher and Hussain to repair the damage. West Indies were without Edwards, their most hostile bowler at Sabina; he was replaced by his half-brother, Collins, who took four wickets including Vaughan's second ball. But West Indies badly missed Edwards's skiddy relentlessness to back up Best's more intimidatory approach and Hussain, especially, revelled in conditions most players would have found difficult. Butcher was dropped on 20 by Chanderpaul at second slip off Collymore, as the two battled through the remaining 20 overs that survived the rain on the second day and kept on until the fourth over after lunch on the third, when Butcher was - wrongly, TV replays suggested - given out caught behind by umpire Bowden.

That brought in Thorpe, who emerged as the most fluent of England's three experienced middle-order batsmen, the "100 Club" as Hussain called them, a reference to their combined ages rather than their average. Having been seduced by a bouncer in Jamaica, Thorpe was peppered with short balls. But he pulled and hooked majestically, even with two men back on the leg-side boundary. One pull for four off Collins gave England first-innings lead shortly after tea. Thorpe's air of authority was punctured only when he was hit on the right hand by a beamer from Best. He was later struck on the head by a Sanford bouncer just after turning down an offer to go off for bad light. To Lara's annoyance, the light was offered again at the end of the over. His annoyance was obvious enough to cost him half his match fee. England had scored 103 in 36 overs in the last session to lead by 92 and, although they added only 19 more on the fourth morning, they were in complete control.

After a week in Harmison's shadow, Jones now took centre-stage, ripping out West Indies' top three in his first four overs. Coming on first change for Hoggard in the 13th over, he sent his first ball wide down the leg side, and it disappeared to the boundary. His second ball kept low and hit Gayle's off stump, and in his next over he had Devon Smith held at mid-off. When he trapped Sarwan leg-before playing back, Jones celebrated in confrontational clenched-fist style, which cost him, too, half his match fee. Lara dropped himself down the order, promoting Jacobs to No. 4. While hardly sending out a message of confident defiance, the ploy worked to a degree, Jacobs and Chanderpaul adding 102 in 32 overs to put West Indies in front. Then Jones, in his second spell, removed Jacobs, and Lara emerged at No. 6, on a pair. He reached eight before Harmison was recalled and pinned Lara to his crease with his first ball, which swung back into the batsman. Umpire Harper took his time before giving a marginal - and momentous - lbw decision in England's favour. West Indies added only 38 more for the remaining five wickets; by dismissing Collins, Jones completed his first Test five-wicket haul

England's target was 99, with 21 overs of the fourth evening to go. After losing Trescothick to the third ball of the innings, Vaughan and Butcher attempted to finish the job before the close, racing to 59 in the ninth over. But after Vaughan's dismissal, and much fractious discussion about the state of the light between batsmen, Lara and the umpires - this time, Lara seemed more enthusiastic about going off - England had to return on the last morning. Hussain was out to the second ball of the day and Thorpe dropped by Jacobs off the fifth, but victory was completed with ease as Butcher smashed three fours in five deliveries.

It was West Indies' sixth defeat out of seven on their captain's home ground. Immediately afterwards, Ricky Skerritt, the team manager for four years, announced his resignation, citing an inability "to instil in the entire team the fullest understanding of their obligations on and off the field to the people of the West Indies".

© John Wisden & Co