Tonight’s game was almost like watching two seperate matches. Scott Borthwick on debut and Samit Patel (yes, you have read that right) bowled tightly in containing West Indies to a total that looked well below par, before it all went south when England got bat in hand. Ultimately, it was the new ball spells of Krishmar Santokie and Gary Mathurin which broke the back of England’s batting, as the spinner in particular caused them no end of problems. Having seen off Herath, Mendis, Harbhajan and Mishra this summer, it’s slightly galling to have collapsed to a the sort of left arm dirt bowler which T20 turns into world beaters. That’s not to take away from Mathurin’s performance, as he gave the inexperienced England top order a real working over, and the ball which saw off Ravi Bopara was an absolute peach.
It was the first over of their reply which really set the tone for the innings. On Friday night England came out firing and the West Indies heads went down very quickly, whereas tonight the first couple of overs were a real statement of intent. Once Ravi Bopara went you sensed a change in the tourists mentality, as they suddenly started to really believe they could win. The other difference was that England slipped back into old bad habits and ran like a team of Owais Shahs. Samit Patel stole the show for sheer comedy value, as he waddled down the pitch in vain having stood looking confused for a few seconds after hitting the ball. Graeme Swann also gets an honourable mention for his head in hands reaction to selling Scott Borthwick down the river just as he was looking capable of steering England home.
What have England learnt from this weekend? Not a lot, in truth. The bowling in both games was very impressive, but Borthwick aside we knew all about those players already. Maybe his performance has guaranteed his ticket to India, though it is more likely that the decision had been made already. None of the batsmen bar the openers got a chance on Friday, then they all managed to embarrass themselves today. Alex Hales still doesn’t ooze confidence and has not yet claimed the openers spot as his own, while neither Bairstow nor Buttler did well enough to seriously threaten Craig Kieswetter’s position in the side. Sky spoke afterwards about how the collapse could well have got Kevin Pietersen back in the side, and they are probably right. England cannot go to India without Morgan and KP. The future is clearly bright, but the youngsters’ time will come.