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West Indies Vs England: A Review - Column by Renin Wilben
by Renin Wilben
Mar 17, 2009
The five-Test match series between West Indies and England was a complete run fest but ironically the most gripping moments of the series came when the sides collapsed while batting - England in the opening Test and West Indies in the last. The major difference though was that West Indies managed to stave off defeat and thus claim their first series victory in five years.

The series has had its share of controversies. Before landing on Caribbean soil, the Englishmen were in total disarray thanks to the sacking of Pietersen and Moores and the result had an impact on the opening Test. The Winides then embarrassed themselves with a 10-ball abandoned Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

As the teams reflect on a hard-fought series, we look back at some of the heroes from both camps.

West Indies

Chris Gayle
He is not the archetypal captain who constantly encourages the team and is a good tactician. Quite the opposite, Gayle believes in leading from the front and allowing his mates to have a free reign. That is exactly what he did in this series scoring two centuries and batting with great responsibility when needed. And his maturity surely must have encouraged the others too. Gayle still has a long way to go as captain but this series win should instill a sense of confidence in him.

Ramnaresh Sarwan
It's probably a bit too late to say that Sarwan has come of age. He has been on the international circuit for nearly a decade now. However, looking at his performance in the series, it has to be said that this is his finest hour. With over 600 runs, including a 291, and the kind of consistency that was always expected of him (sometimes unfairly in his early days), it has to be said that Sarwan was one of the major success stories for West Indies. The home side would only hope that this is not a one-off like some of his previous unfulfilled promises.

Jerome Taylor
Apart from his devastating five-wicket haul in the opening Test at Kingston, Taylor did nothing of note. However, he deserves a mention in this space since it was his spell that eventually was the difference between the two sides. England recovered marvelously from the catastrophe but when people look back at the series the scoreline would read one-nil in favour of West Indies, which was the result of Taylor's efforts.

Among the others, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued to remain consistent but more importantly Brendan Nash and Denesh Ramdin improved their batting quite drastically. The spin of Sulieman Benn too pointed towards some encouraging signs for the home team.

England

Andrew Strauss
If Gayle was consistent compiling two tons, the new England skipper went a step ahead registering three. The effort was all the more commendable as it came after the Jamaica humiliation and proved how mentally strong he is. Strauss' performance in the series also reiterated the fact that he is back to his best - scoring runs at will which he also did at the start of his international career. Like Gayle, he too believes in leading from the front and has clearly done that in the Caribbean though England ended up on the losing side.

Paul Collingwood
He may not be a star but Collingwood's presence in the team means a lot. When he scores runs, England look relaxed and he did not disappoint on the batting-friendly surfaces, striking two centuries and missing out on a third one marginally. For some strange reason, his head is always on the chopper when it comes to finding scapegoats but the mountain of runs he has been scoring since India cannot be ignored. Collingwood looks set to be an integral part of this team at least for now.

Graeme Swann
If Benn staked a claim as Windies' best spinner with some impressive performances, Swann has also gone a long way towards replacing Monty Panesar as the premier tweaker in the side. He claimed five wickets at Barbados bowling classical off-spin and nearly pulled off a miracle on the last day of the series. In contrast, the left-arm spinner was coming into his own only towards the end of the series. There is no competition between the two though. If both perform well in tandem, it will only bolster England's chances.

There was some more good news for England as Alastair Cook ended his year-long century drought and Kevin Pietersen made a statement of intent with his ostentatious ton in the final Test. In the bowling department, Stuart Broad continued to show marked improvements even as the senior members of the pace department struggled.

Players from both sides put up some memorable performances but, at the end of the day, it was that one horrendous failure at Sabina Park that cost England the series.
 
More Views by Renin Wilben
  Ahmedabad pitch was unfit for Test cricket
  The sad demise of Windies cricket
  West Indies Vs England: A Review - Column by Renin Wilben
  SA potent enough to upset Australia
  NZ-WI: An engrossing battle on the cards
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