View from the Radcliffe Road End: West Indies fall short in the field
Their batting was good, but West Indies bowling and fielding must improve for them to win the T20 World Cup
West Indies still have work to do if they want to challenge for the World T20.
Many good judges suggest that the West Indies might be a decent outside bet for the ICC World T20 – the trophy England defend in the Autumn in Sri Lanka. Today's match offered support for their backers, and support for their layers too, as Darren Sammy's men looked world class, then village class as the afternoon progressed.
With their IPL players back in the squad, the West Indies batting looked a match for any team in the world. Even when the world's most destructive T20 batsman left the crease in the third over, Chris Gayle's fellow opener, Dwayne Smith, showed his dazzling talent, one so often wasted since his astonishing run-a-ball century on Test match debut eight long years ago in Cape Town.
At Trent Bridge, he got his shot selection right and that allowed him to play gloriously straight down the ground, his power sending the ball five times far into the stands for maximums. It was the kind of innings that showed how he was able to match Chris Gayle's strike rate in this year's IPL – few can do that, and even fewer by using the same method.
Another batsman showing IPL form was Dwayne Bravo, whose beautifully judged 54 drew on years of Twenty20 experience. At first, he was happy to play second fiddle to Smith, getting off strike with singles or leg-byes in compiling a watchful 22 off 24 balls before exploding with consecutive sixes, as his next 12 balls disappeared for 32 runs.
Unbeaten at the end, he had raised his half-century and played a key part in rescuing the West Indies innings from a parlous 29-2 at the end of the six overs of Powerplay, to a very defendable 172-4 after 20.
Scores like that will win more than they lose in shortest format of the game and if West Indies can set targets like that with just six runs from Gayle and Samuels combined and the captain not required to take guard, their batting will have done its job.
But batting, even in T20, is only one of three skills and the other two revealed why West Indies are seventh in the betting to take England's crown. In the absence of Kemar Roach, only Fidel Edwards provides real pace and he is supported by a phalanx of medium pacers whom good batsmen can line up.
Brilliant though he was today, this attack will come up against better batsmen than Alex Hales in Sri Lanka and they'll need to be more imaginative in their thinking and more disciplined in their execution, if they are not to go round the park.
Though he delivered the lowest strike rate, the only mystery about Sunil Narine was how he had been so impressive in winning IPL 2012 Player of the Tournament as his Kolkata Knight Riders franchise won the trophy. He'll have to start to match performances to the hype if he wants another trophy in October.
But it was the West Indies' fielding that gives the most cause for concern – this from the team whose first World Cup was won on the back of five Australian run-outs.
At Trent Bridge, they were sloppy on the boundary and sloppy with their returns, and, worryingly for an experienced team led by an experienced skipper, seemed unable to stop singles or boundaries when Hales and Bopara pressed the accelerator. Sure it's the last match of their tour, but it's hardly been an onerous couple of months and that cannot be an excuse for such a poor effort in a key element of the game.
While England can take great heart from a match in which they showed cool heads under pressure and no little skill in winning, West Indies will look again at how they can put 40 overs together that brings a team performance equal to the talents of their individuals.