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A victory that feels like a rebirth

As Jerome Taylor was making himself a Caribbean hero on an extraordinary fourth afternoon at Sabina Park, the DJ who has been in occupation throughout the match played A Change is Gonna Come, which had also been Barack Obama's campaign song. The US mainland is only a short flight away from Jamaica, and while Obama unveils his financial stimulus package, cricket in West Indies was being given its own injection of life.
The song also includes the line It's been a long time coming which is a sentiment that will be felt by many West Indies fans. Revenge is meant to be sweet, but the taste of this success will linger longer than anything else the team has achieved since the side fragmented so rapidly from the mid-1990s onwards. There has been the occasional victory to savour since then - notably the Champions Trophy win in 2004 and an away Test win in South Africa in 2007 - but the way they transformed this Test puts everything else into the shade.

"It's definitely a turning point, we don't know how big yet, we will wait until the series finishes and we will see just how big a turning point it was," said a delighted Chris Gayle. "It was tremendous and I want to congratulate everyone. Hopefully we can capitalise on this and make the most of it."

That, of course, is the key. West Indies have had flashes of inspiration before and failed to build on it. However, given the nature of this win it is a magnificent achievement on its own. It was revenge for their own dismal demise in 2004 when they were shot out for 47, also on a dramatic fourth day as Steve Harmison took 7 for 12, and also for the host of other humbling collapses England have inflicted since the turn of the century. Lord's, Headingley, Barbados - suddenly they were all forgotten.

This year for Harmison read Taylor, as he wrecked England with a spell of pace bowling to match anything a West Indies quick has produced in recent memory. Never mind Jamaica 2004, this brought back memories of Trinidad in 1994 when Curtly Ambrose took 6 for 24, and until Andrew Flintoff hit out England were on course to be humbled for less than that famous 46.

"I said before that hopefully it would be the other way round [to 2004], which it actually turned out to be," Gayle said. "I am going on the mound [stand]. The last time when we lost here, I went on the mound and got in a lot of trouble for that. So this time I can go. Its really good, I'm happy."

However, this performance goes beyond pure statistics. With each wicket taken by Taylor, and the other bowling hero Sulieman Benn, the entire West Indies team sprinted towards the packed party stand where Gayle would later head. Saturday in Kingston brought out the locals, and the numbers swelled as news spread of the crash of wickets. This must have been what it was like when Holding and company were causing chaos all those years ago.

"It was the best fast bowling I have seen for a long while and he set the game up for us and we won it," Gayle said, while Taylor sat quietly beside his captain, no doubt trying to soak up the moment. "This is what we have been talking about, getting the batting and the bowling combined together and we saw that in this game - it was just tremendous."

Taylor was modest about his own achievement, but there was a hint of Malcolm Marshall about the way he glided to the crease and targeted a full length. "I think I have bowled more brilliantly than this before," he said. "I am able to go out and exploit the conditions, get the ball in the right area and upset any team on a given day. So after we had that 70-odd run lead, we knew we had to go out and apply some pressure."

After Benn bowled Steve Harmison to complete the rout the intensity of the moment engulfed West Indies and they could barely contain their joy. Following the handshakes - and a hug between Gayle and Pietersen - the home side embarked on a slow lap of honour that took them from the dressing room past the historic Kingston Cricket Club, round past the new George Headley Stand and finally alongside the partying masses on the mound. In one lap they took in the changing face of West Indies cricket, from the new to the old and back to the new again.

For Gayle this was an especially sweet moment and the end of an epic personal Test. He was impressive in the field and his controlled 107 showed how he has matured as a player since taking the captaincy. This was only Gayle's 17th Test victory in his 76-match career, so moments to savour like this have not been regular occurrences.

"The first time being skipper on my home ground was a lot of pressure as captain and batsman in front of home crowd and my family," he said. "I tried to put that aside and focus on job and it was really brilliant to get a victory."

In some quarters around the Caribbean there is a feeling of resentment that this series has been billed by the English - certainly the media, if not the players - as nothing more than an Ashes warm-up. The IPL, too, has been looming over this match as England players earned their chance at the big money.

Now, though, the West Indies have given the locals their chance to crow and the way the mound was humming well after play suggested they are going to enjoy every moment. It is often said how West Indies are everyone's second favourite team, and even the most hardened and patriotic of England fans will find it hard to deny them their celebrations. Is this a rebirth? It doesn't half feel like one.