Taylor routs England for 51
Jerome Taylor produced the bowling spell of a lifetime as England's cricketers were dealt abject humiliation on an incredible afternoon of drama at Sabina Park, as England were rolled for 51 all out
A gleeful high-five as Jerome Taylor removes Alastair Cook for a duck
Jerome Taylor produced the bowling spell of a lifetime as England's cricketers were dealt abject humiliation on an incredible afternoon of drama at Sabina Park. Amid an atmosphere lifted straight from the West Indies' heyday of the mid-1980s, Taylor made it his business to avenge the memories of England's last appearance on this ground in 2003-04. For Steve Harmison's 7 for 12, he responded with 5 for 11 in nine overs, as England were bundled out for 51, a sensational defeat by an innings and 23 runs.
From start to finish, England's innings lasted 33.2 overs, and spanned little more than two hours. Alastair Cook was the first to fall, caught in the slips off Taylor for a sixth-ball duck, but the body-blows came in four devastating deliveries either side of lunch. First, Ian Bell chopped Sulieman Benn to the keeper to leave England dangling in the breeze on 11 for 2, then, facing up to Taylor's first delivery of the second session, Kevin Pietersen attempted a presumptuous whip through midwicket but instead had his off stump blown from the ground by a searing full-length legcutter.
It was the defining image of the day, and from that moment onwards, the impossible rapidly morphed into the inevitable. Andrew Strauss was the next to go, the captain had been clinging onto the innings with grim determination for 50 deliveries, but the need to keep the scoreboard moving completely passed him by. Taylor cut a superb delivery across his bows, and when the faintest of outside-edges landed in Ramdin's gloves, England had slumped to 20 for 4 in the 17th over.
With Taylor bowling full and fast, and attacking the stumps relentlessly on a pitch showing definite signs of uneven bounce, further breakthroughs were only a matter of time. Paul Collingwood thought he'd got away with an inside-edge to fine-leg when he set off for a sprinted two, only for the West Indian celebrations to inform him that the ball had clipped his leg stump on the way through. Matt Prior, so impressive in the first innings, didn't even see out the same Taylor over. He was bowled through the gate by a wonderful slower-ball offcutter that left England gasping for breath on 23 for 6.
Even then it got worse before it got better. Stuart Broad, whose first five-wicket haul in Test cricket had also been made possible by his determination to attack the stumps, found that batting on this pitch was rather harder work than bowling. He hadn't scored when, with five men around the bat, he turned his second delivery, from Benn, into the hands of short leg. At 26 for 7, England were in serious danger of beating their lowest score in Test history, 45 against Australia in 1887 (a match, incidentally, they actually went on to win).
A 24-run stand between Andrew Flintoff and Ryan Sidebottom at least averted that particular indignity. Flintoff's eventual 24 was more than the rest of the batting order managed between them, and two lusty slogs for four from consecutive Benn deliveries carried a particular significance. The first, through the covers, drew England level with that score of 45. The second, through midwicket, took them past their infamous total of 46 at Trinidad in 1993-94. That effort has long been considered the benchmark of English ineptitude in the Caribbean, but after today's performance, there may surely be some reconsidering to be done.
For 12 grimly endured overs, Flintoff and Sidebottom did their utmost to haul England back into the game - trailing by 74 on first innings, after the West Indies tail had cobbled together 40 priceless runs in the morning session, a lead of any description was their target. With Taylor now out of the attack, their main threat was the sharp spin of Benn, and sure enough it was one of his rippers from the left-hander's rough that eventually prised Sidebottom from the crease. The decision went to a referral as there was some suspicion that the ball had done too much to justify an lbw, but the replays showed that the leg bail would have been dislodged, and that was enough for Daryl Harper to stand by the original call.
The end, after that, came with embarrassing speed. Flintoff flung his wicket away four balls later as he slogged across the line against Fidel Edwards, and it was Benn who applied the coup de grace with his fourth wicket of the innings and eighth of the match. Steve Harmison went down for the sweep but dragged the ball onto his stumps, and almost before the umpire's finger had been raised, the West Indian players had grabbed their souvenirs and were hurtling off towards the party stand - the scene of an infamous post-defeat booze-up in the corresponding fixture five years ago. This time there will be no qualms about the celebrations. The entire region has been longing for a day like this for nigh on 15 years.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo