Who would have though that halfway through England’s tour to the Caribbean, the West Indies would be bitterly disappointed with their performances and England more than happy with theirs. What a strange game. There is a new mood of excitement, enthusiasm and optimism about Michael Vaughan’s England, not least because of the displays of Steve Harmison and Simon Jones, ably backed by the pace back-up of Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff.
Not for a long time have we had a four-pronged seam attack capable of putting sustained pressure on batsmen and James Anderson is there to ensure those in possession keep up their performance levels. Our middle order was criticised in some quarters before the tour started, but they have answered their detractors and come to the party big time. Nasser Hussain, Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe have stopped the wobble after early wickets have fallen and without them we would not be leading the series 2-0. The management have been completely vindicated in their decision to keep these three in the middle order although Paul Collingwood already has a century in the Caribbean and will obviously get his chance somewhere down the line to enter Vaughan’s brave new world. And so to Barbados for the Third Test with England holding a huge psychological advantage over Brian Lara’s men. It would not surprise me in the least if we wrap up the series in what will almost be a ‘home’ game for our boys. There will be more Brits on the island than there are tickets for the match and I am sure our support will easily outnumber that for the home side. It is difficult to see anything other than another England win given how high our confidence levels are and how low the West Indies have sunk. Even when they have managed to get a partnership going, we have always looked likely of taking wickets at any time… and that fact will be playing havoc in their minds. It’s great that two days before the match England are in a position to nominate their side. In the warm up game, Anderson was back among the wickets, Geraint Jones scored a half century - and we do need runs from the wicketkeeper as well as a safe pair of hands - while Gareth Batty showed that we do have a spin alternative. A good side and pressure for places. What a welcome state of affairs for England and doesn’t it feel good to be able to look forward to a Test with excitement and anticipation. Now let’s get the job done.