Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jonathan Agnew column

Unfortunately West Indies couldn't raise their game for the final match of this series, but England more than have the measure of their opponents now.

The highlight of another one-sided game was an excellent 87 by Matt Prior, who unselfishly gave away the opportunity to score his first hundred in one-day internationals, but who has now made his mark at the top of the order at the second time of asking.

This was just his second fifty in 38 innings, but it was typically Prior - busy and punchy - until he aimed a big swipe at Jerome Taylor and lost his stumps.

England paced their innings very well, with Andrew Strauss and Ravi Bopara putting on an opening stand of 81 in the first 15 overs.

The impetus was added by Owais Shah, who continues to frustrate at this level. This innings was Shah at his best with strong, flexible wrists and plenty of innovation.

He times the ball beautifully, and really should be scoring runs regularly for England in all codes of the game. But he still appears so tense.

He grips his bat like a lumberjack grasps his axe and looks dreadfully nervous.

He might not be, of course, but it is no coincidence that he has a dreadful record of running between the wickets - run outs being the most common result of tension and uncertainty.

Gareth39 here

With West Indies needing 329 to win, a good start was essential, but within four overs they had already lost Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and were doomed.

A brilliant catch by Strauss at cover demonstrated England's supremacy in the field as the game drifted to a tortuous end.

This visit by West Indies has done nothing to ignite the spark of anticipation for the summer to come.

Clearly, there is a crisis within West Indies cricket that runs deeper than just the performance of their players here.

Certainly, the hopelessly strained relations between the West Indies Cricket Board and West Indies Players' Association (Wipa) need urgent attention.

But if ever there has been a wake-up call delivered to our administrators that we are now in overkill, this past month has been it.

Poor crowds in the Tests, horrible weather almost throughout and cricketers who are clearly on a treadmill have sent a message that this saturation cannot continue.

Let's hope that someone listens.

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