The good, the bad, and the ugly of England's series win

England's series victory over West Indies is a cause for self-congratulation in the short term. But there are several issues that remain to be resolved ahead of the Ashes

As Tom Westley clipped another long-hop to the boundary, it was tempting to believe that some of England's problems were starting to melt away.
Two of England's new faces had posted an unbroken partnership of 72 - the highest second-wicket stand of the series - and, for the first time in four years, England had won both series in a home summer.
But amid the celebrations, some unsettling thoughts remain. Here we review the good, the bad and the ugly from England's series against West Indies:
The good
James Anderson may never have bowled better than this. While it's true the pitches could have been tailor-made to suit him, he utilised them as few can. Coming into the season with doubts about his fitness starting to grow, he responded by playing seven Tests in two months and claiming 39 wickets at an average of 14.10. It would be naive to think conditions - or the balls - in Australia will offer him so much assistance. But so good was his control, so impressive his range of skills, that he will surely remain an asset on any surface.
In averaging 57 with the bat and 22.22 with the ball, Ben Stokes again provided evidence to suggest he is growing into the top-class all-rounder his talent has long suggested he could become. While few require much convincing about his batting at this stage - he top-scored for England at both Leeds and Lord's - he also provided further evidence of his ability with the ball. Not only the quickest of England's bowlers but, for a while at Lord's, the man who made the ball swing the most, he out-bowled Anderson for a while. And that's pretty high praise.
This was an assured start to the captaincy from Joe Root. It wasn't just that he continued his consistent form with the bat - he equalled the record for the most consecutive Tests containing a score of 50 or more at Leeds and passed 50 in three of his four innings - but he showed he was a dynamic, motivated leader who was prepared to throw away the formula when necessary. So while there were times - not least at the start of the final day at Lord's - when he relied upon his champion fast bowlers to shape the game with long spells, there were also times he was prepared to take them out of the attack (Toby Roland-Jones was preferred to Anderson at times during the series against South Africa) if he felt another bowler might prove more effective. Demanding his side combine some rigour with their natural talent, he demonstrated a natural affinity for the leadership that bodes well. Yes, the declaration at Headingley back-fired. And yes, tougher challenges lie ahead. But few would doubt Root is the man to lead England through them.
For those of a certain age, a series victory against West Indies was an almost impossible dream. While the decline of Caribbean cricket has been well chronicled - and, quite often, exaggerated - the fact is England won. Not so long ago, a drawn series against West Indies contributed to the sacking of a coach. While keeping this success in perspective, it would be churlish to continually explain away England's successes.
No England batsman scored more runs (304) in the series than Alastair Cook. While nearly all of those came in one innings (243) at Edgbaston, it was a key contribution that broke West Indies' resistance in that match. If there's one thing the struggles of his opening partners has taught us, it should be to never take Cook's prolific run-scoring feats for granted.
The statistics may suggest Stuart Broad is an odd addition to this category, but sometimes the statistics lie. Broad bowled beautifully, at times, during this series but almost always without fortune. The final day at Lord's was a good example: his mean opening spell helped his side build pressure on the West Indies batsmen. While he was not, on this occasion, the beneficiary, he played a full part in the victory. And while his stats this summer were mediocre - 20 wickets at an average of 33.90 - it is worth remembering he has suffered more than most from England's poor catching. He has had 10 chances put down.
It could be easily to ignore amid the plaudits for Anderson, but Roland-Jones finished the series with a bowling average of 16. While he may not retain his place once Chris Woakes has regained his best form, Roland-Jones surely did enough to earn a place on the Ashes tour and looks to be a good addition to England's seam-bowling ranks. He might enjoy the bounce of Australia's pitches, too.
The bad
Tom Westley's unbeaten 44 on the final day at Lord's was England's highest score from the No. 3 position in all seven Tests this summer. Indeed, the last time an England batsman contributed a half-century from that position was when Root made one in Chennai just before Christmas. But while it was a welcome improvement, it was made largely in an increasingly artificial atmosphere in which West Indies had accepted their fate and Kemar Roach, off the field due to an injury, had been replaced by an all-spin attack in conditions offering them nothing. It would be wishful thinking to interpret this as a breakthrough innings. While England continue to use the No. 3 position like a monkey sent into space - you know it will die, but the real astronauts think it's too dangerous to go just yet - they will be failing to give themselves the best chance. It is unthinkable they can win in Australia without heavy contributions from their No. 3. Westley's run of score - 8, 3, 8, 8 and 44* - is not entirely encouraging.
England's commitment to the continuity of selection policy is, on the whole, a positive. It puts the days of revolving-door selection behind them with all the inherent selfish, timid play that comes with it. But there is a down side. And, as they reflect on the squad for Australia, the unsettling thought occurs that the three new batsmen in the top five have all done enough to deserve a sustained opportunity without any of them doing enough to cement their place or depart on the tour with any great confidence. None of Westley, Stoneman or Malan average more than 30 in their Test careers and none have yet, despite having played a combined total of 13 Tests, yet passed 65 in a single innings.
For all England's potency with the ball in these conditions, the fear is the skills they have demonstrated may not translate to Australia. Without extreme pace or wrist-spin, England have instead relied upon seam and swing movement that will largely be denied them in Australia. Facing the prospect of flat pitches and fine batsmen (especially David Warner and Steve Smith), the worry remains that England lack the weapons to damage Australia's batting. Mark Wood, one bowler whose pace might have proved so valuable, was not deemed fit enough to play in this series, while Jamie Overton has hardly played this season. It leaves England short of attacking intent.
The ugly
Depending on what you believe constitutes a chance, England put down 14 or 15 catches during this series. While some, such as the caught-and-bowled that resulted in the run-out of Kyle Hope at Leeds, were tough, several - such as a couple of the slip catches put down by Alastair Cook or the chances at mid-on and mid-off respectively by Moeen and Broad - were relatively simple. There is no way England can win the Ashes if they put down an average of five chances a Test.
England went into this summer with three holes in the batting line-up. While there been some encouraging moments, they will go to Australia with those holes still apparent. Having tried several options at both the top of the order and in the middle order, the failure of any of them to seize their opportunity does raise questions about the gap between domestic and international cricket. Perhaps not since Root, in 2012, has a specialist batsman come into the side and cemented their position. Again, it suggests the production line is not working as it should.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo