Walking Wisden

It took England from 1969 to 2000 to win back the Wisden Trophy, a prize which, for much of that time, seemed to have passed permanently into the hands of the West Indies. It's taken just a further eight and a half years and four series for it to be lost again, a result which would barely have been foreseen a year ago but which points accurately to where the two sides find themselves in the early months of 2009.

Despite the subsequent conservatism of their approach, West Indies just about deserved to win, if only because, in Jamaica, they were the only side to strike a conclusive blow against the pattern of batting domination which defined the series. What is more, there are clear signs that they're finally achieving levels of fitness, discipline and steel which have eluded them ever since their great years ended in the mid-nineties. For this there's little doubting the influence of the two Australians, John Dyson and especially Brendan Nash, whose gritty ballast in the lower middle-order has been an utterly vital element in their improvement. Then, of course, you have the fact that the players so obviously want to play for their captain, you have Sarwan achieving sustained excellence for the first time, you have Shiv just doing what he always does and you have Denesh Ramdin growing into his international shoes in a way no young West Indian keeper has done in living memory.

England continue to look like a side failing to add up to the sum of its parts. The bowling acked penetration, some of the decision making (especially around the Antigua second innings) was clumsy and destructive, the number three position, with Shah conspicuously failing to take his overdue opportunity, remains unfilled. Strauss, with the bat, was brilliant, Pietersen was Pietersen and Graeme Swann showed the type of wit and competitiveness which will stand him in good stead as he goes forward, for the time being, as his country's number one spinner.

England will have an excellent opportunity to regain the Wisden Trophy again within a few months, but, with Australia rediscovering their poise in South Africa, a much sterner battle is sure to follow.


Rob said...

> a result which would barely have been foreseen a year ago

I considered a WI win an impossibility before the first ball was bowled such is their paucity of bowling attack and general discipline. Something which has been missed in the general 'they held on well' consensus is that WI dropped many catches -- as many as seven in one day. If they had taken them they would have won much more easily.

Are they playing for the Wisden Trophy in the spring? It is only a two test series.

Brian Carpenter said...

Cheers, Rob. I didn't see much of the Barbados game, where I believe the Windies filding was at its worst, so I didn't consider that. You could well be right.

I agree that the Wisden Trophy shouldn't be at stake in a two game series, but that probably means it will be.

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