What a day in the history of English cricket as Michael Vaughan led his troops to the most incredible of victories and the West Indies were reduced to apologising for their worst ever display. Unexpected, fantastic, superb… there just aren’t enough adjectives to describe how England triumphed and the Windies capitulated during the First Test in Jamaica.
There were three hard, tough days of proper Test cricket and then Brian Lara and his side collapsed to 47 all out leaving the captain and his opening partner, Marcus Trescothick, the easy task of scoring the 20 needed for an innings victory.
The Windies returned from a series defeat in South Africa believing they could restore confidence by beating England on home soil. Whatever shallow confidence they had has now been blown to smithereens.
They actually looked as if they didn’t want to bat so disconcerted they looked with the bounce and field placing. No praise is high enough for Steve Harmison and his record haul, but he was ably backed by Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones. Hoggard was particularly tidy allowing Harmison to wreak havoc at the other end… and what havoc. Seven for 12 was the best-ever bowling return Sabina Park had ever seen and when you consider the calibre of cricketer who has played there over the years, Harmison has every right to be satisfied with a job very well done.
Full marks to Harmison for realising he had not bowled in the right places often enough during the first innings. In the second, he pitched the ball up more and let the bounce do the rest. All of a sudden we might just have found the spearhead we have been missing and together with Hoggard, Jones, James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff, we might now have an attack capable of matching the quality of our batting.
One win does not make a Series, but England now move on to this week’s Second Test with their spirits lifted, their confidence high and their expectations growing. Suddenly there is a warm glow to English cricket.