Mark Nicholas previews the 2nd Test
England will look to play more aggressively after finding form at Lord's
For all West Indies spirit, England were simply too good at Lord’s and this has generally been the case at home over five-day matches.
Few teams – and South Africa are sure to be one of them – are able to outlast Andrew Strauss’s team, so well do they know themselves, their opponent and the conditions.
Sometimes it is enough simply to be patient, to work away at the things you’re good at and to not especially extend yourself. And with hindsight that is the way that England went about this match.
Over the last decade England have tended to play the weaker Test match sides in the early part of the summer and have gone about the game in much the same way – which is to say batsmen looking to occupy the crease and build form for the summer, and bowlers looking to bowl consistently in the time-honoured areas that play on Test batsmen’s minds.
As the players find their form and re-establish their confidence, they will look to play more confidently and aggressively.
The suspicion is that we saw the best of the West Indies at Lord’s and that there simply isn’t the depth of talent to hurt England. This is why it is such a shame that the likes of Gayle, Sarwan, Bravo, Narine and Pollard are all spoken for elsewhere. Gayle’s case is an extremely complicated one and he has not always created the game that has made him with the respect it deserves.
In general though the West Indies Board must surely find a middle ground that brings three talented cricketers back into the mix. If Test cricket is compromised it will lose the floating voter.
Much as one admires Darren Sammy and the effort put in by him, the coaching staff and the players, cricket needs to showcase its very best at Test match level or a generation will evolve thinking the only place for flair is in the Twenty20 arena.
Among England’s most relevant qualities is the way they have been able to combine a disciplined and pragmatic approach to the game with a sense of adventure when necessary. Though we saw little of the latter at Lord’s, it is there at the press of a button if required and is most likely to come from any of the middle order with the bat, and Anderson, Broad and Swann with the ball.
They seem to understand their roles and their responsibilities and one another perfectly and there is an internal trust within the team. Success is built around this sort of formula – the most exceptional modern example was the Aussies either side of the turn of the century – and as the England players mature I can only see them getting more impressive and more consistent as a team.
The match at Trent Bridge appears to be another shoe-in for the home side which need not stop it being an appealing cricketing occasion – for there is much to enjoy in a job well done and in the committed fight to resist it.