West Indies' captain, Chris Gayle, was left lamenting a "disaster" for his team, as England rolled them over inside three days in the first Test at Lord's, to secure a ten-wicket victory that leaves them favourites to reclaim the Wisden Trophy just two months after it was lost in an attritional series in the Caribbean.
Aside from a 143-run stand on the final afternoon between Brendan Nash and Denesh Ramdin, West Indies showed barely any of the fight and character that that secured their 1-0 victory in the previous series. They dropped six catches in a crucial final session of the first day, then succumbed to some dramatic batting collapses in both innings as the unfamiliar May conditions wrecked their resolve.
"Obviously, we are very disappointed in the manner we lost the game in three days," said Gayle. "We have to give credit to England because I thought they played some good cricket, and held on to their chances. But that last session on the first day put us on the back foot, and then we couldn't actually get out of the slump. We have ourselves to blame for that."
Aside from a battling 81 for Nash, the only positive for West Indies was the form of Fidel Edwards, who claimed 6 for 92 in a hostile first-innings onslaught. He was, however, the victim of three clear-cut dropped catches, and Gayle admitted that the fielders had let him down. ""Fidel bowled brilliantly and could easily have set the game up for us," he said. "But the chances were put down."
Gayle attracted controversy in the build-up to the match by arriving in the country only 48 hours before the start. It meant he did not have time to acclimatise himself properly ahead of the earliest start in English Test history, and he admitted that the conditions had not been easy for his team to negotiate.
"We've never been in England so early before, so we're up against it," he said. "It would be nice to tour later in the year, with a lot more sunshine because it does make a difference. A lot of the time when I was batting out there with the wind hitting the eyes, there was a lot of water in the eyes as well.
"It does make a difference in alien conditions. The ball doing a bit more, and it's a disadvantage we have to cope with. We just have to tough it out, bear with it and get the job done as much as possible."
The final scoreline was identical to the ten-wicket defeat that England Lions inflicted on the West Indians at Derby last week, and Gayle admitted that the same old mistakes had been repeated. "The last couple of weeks we have had some hiccups with the batting, and in this Test match it kind of crumbled again," he said.
"We lost the plot. We didn't get off to the start we wanted and after that it was a disaster for us, although Ramdin and Nash and Devon Smith chipped in to take out the disgrace by showing some fight."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo