Andrew Strauss – As a batsman gets older, indeed as anyone gets older, the usual pattern of development sees risk being reduced or, in Steve Waugh’s case, pretty much eliminated. Andrew Strauss appears to dance to a different drum, as he continues to embrace risk more with each series. His batting in the first innings was as expansive as it was in the Caribbean and he paid the price, losing his wicket to a loose shot. But that wasn’t where his risk-taking had begun nor where it ended. To his credit (and newly appointed Director of Cricket, Andy Flower’s), he handed new caps to Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan and slotted Ravi into the key Number Three slot in his first home Test. Later, he tossed the new ball to Swanny who failed to nail his bunny, Devon Smith, first time around, but strutted about like he owned Lord’s in this, his first home Test, and delivered a Man of the Match performance. His captaincy was all that his opposite number’s wasn’t.
Alastair Cook – Looks out of nick with technical problems leading to a dismissal to a horrible crooked bat stab at the ball which produced the inevitable inside edge and clatter of timber. Safe for now, but Michael Slater was despatched to the wilderness for a lot less.
Ravi – His rivals for the Number Three slot (Vaughan, Bell and Shah) react to bad luck as one would to an old dog who has been sick on the rug again. Not nice, but that’s the way things are now. Ravi greets good luck like an old friend, offering good luck a beer and a comfy chair. And bad luck stalks Vaughan, Bell and Shah, but Ravi gets good luck almost at will. So his second consecutive ton was chancy – Ravi will have no truck with that, narrowing those flinty, Australian eyes and telling anyone who’ll listen to look in the book and on the Honours Board. Here to stay.
KP – Loved every second of the match at the heart of every celebration, but missed a Fidel jaffa first up and neither bowled, nor took a catch. An England ten wicket victory delivered without Flintoff nor KP – interesting.
Colly – Needs a lot of cricket just to look ordinary, so looks terrible after sitting out the IPL. Must take every match he can before that other group of tourists arrive in July.
Matt Prior – It’s a tribute to his batting that a counter-attacking score of 42 off 56 balls is greeted as a failure, which, at Number Six, it probably is. His keeping is still unconvincing with feet and weight all over the place, but he didn’t pay the price of poor technique this time around. A slot too high at Six, but he’ll stay there for the summer and likely for his career.
Stuart Broad – Benefitted from some dreadful late in the day fielding from tiring West Indians, but unleashed those drives that remind England fans of Vaughan’s 2002 vintage – Number Seven is at least one slot too high, for all the promise. Strauss gave him plenty of work with the ball and he responded with five wickets and some good deliveries between the dross. Has all of Glenn McGrath’s cantankerous demeanour, especially if fielders don’t dive ten feet along the boundary to save two runs, but has yet to develop the Master’s unerring line and length. But Broad is listening and learning.
Tim Bresnan – Looked pleased just to be there and had just settled at the crease when sawn off by a poor LBW decision. Did nothing with the ball to suggest he was anything other than a trier. Will need to show a lot more to become a regular Test squad member.
Swanny – Batted with élan and no little skill to hit the ball on the up Caribbean style to the boundary. Never short of confidence, he carried on bowling where he left off with the bat. He’s a better bowler than he is given credit for, but his priceless asset is a personality which will get at batsmen while lifting his own team. After a long apprenticeship, is likely to be the spinner for the foreseeable future.
Jimmy Anderson – Is beginning to look a real craftsman of swing bowling able to send the ball in or out at will. Needs to bowl fuller and straighter to get the wickets his skills deserve.
Graham Onions – Provided a feast of journalistic punnery, but was a revelation with ball in hand. Troubled good batsmen with skiddy pace and steep bounce and bowled an immaculate stump to stump line. With his shock of dark hair and stubble and quiet hostility allied to self-effacing charm, England have found their own Ben Hilfenhaus (as our picture shows). Will bowl better for less reward in the future, but will always have a dream debut to reflect upon.
Chris Gayle – After 81 Tests, an average of 30-something is as big a betrayal of talent as cricket has seen since Vinod Kambli pissed his career up the wall. All is not well behind the scenes and it appears that the captain and senior players are bearing the brunt of the discord. Prepared badly, batted badly and captained badly.
Devon Smith – Two scores of 40-something – criminal for an opener. But that’s Devon Smith’s career right there. When Swanny looms at the other end of the pitch, turns into Darryl Cullinan facing Warne.
Ramnaresh Sarwan – Batted for so long in the Caribbean so recently that he must feel like he’s still there. And that’s no mindset for Lord’s in early May, as his two innings showed. The man who did most to win back the Wisden Trophy after nine years may surrender it three months later – not fair.
Lendl Simmons – Cannot get his head in the right position to the ball bowled at the fourth stump. Test cricket is no place to learn the basics of batting as he is finding out.
Shiv Chanderpaul – Plainly unhappy and distracted, he fell twice to Swanny. Too much class not to make England pay, but too little time to make them pay much.
Brendan Nash – The new Larry Gomes, he has a good defence and a square cut, but not much else, except iron Australian will. Already looks a good shout to captain the side in the future.
Denesh Ramdin – Beautiful knock second time round and a better keeper than his opposite number, though that is damning with faint praise. Needs senior players to satnd up, so he can chip in.
Jerome Taylor – Blows hot and cold with bat and ball and this was cold.
Sulieman Benn – Saw the funny side of coming out to bat without his kit in the first innings, and soon paid the price becoming Onions’ third victim in his wonder over. Has all the equipment to be a real handful bowling, but seems to lack a killer instinct as important for a spinner as it is for a seamer – ask Swanny.
Fidel Edwards – Took six first innings wickets despite catch after catch being spilled. Once he warmed up, he had real pace and unveiled the horrible skiddy bouncer that floored Jimmy. Kept smiling and loves the game, but his efforts deserve better from his captain and fielders. Probably too nice to ever be a really successful quick.
Lionel Baker – Will soon have the same number of Tests as Sylvester Clarke, which shows how far West Indian stocks of fast bowling have fallen. A Lancashire League pro – possibly.