Celebrations after England's nine-wicket defeat of West Indies in the second Test were full of relief. Scenes resembled that of an Ashes victory.

Perhaps this wasn't surprising given the criticism of the players and staff since the World Cup debacle and the pressure incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves heaped on them after promising "enquiries" if England failed to win this series.

England, captain Alastair Cook in particular, needed this victory - their first overseas since the India series in 2012 - to draw a line under their recent poor form.


It was certainly a step forward.

Some will point to below-par opposition in a disjointed West Indies outfit, but England deserve credit for forcing a final-day win on a slow, lifeless Grenadan pitch.

So what have we learned from this impressive display?

Jimmy's still got it

Another lifeless pitch, another boring Test match draw. Or so we thought. West Indies started day five on 202-2 and few people expected a result by the end of the day.


Cue James Anderson.

England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker took the game by the scruff of the neck and dragged his side to victory. New ball in hand, he dispatched of three Caribbean batsmen, caught two and ran one out in a monumental display as West Indies added just 105 runs to their overnight score.

Despite breaking Sir Ian Botham's record and being one of the world's greatest swing bowlers, some have questioned Anderson's ability to take wickets when there is little assistance from pitch or weather conditions.

But with this devastating spell, Jimmy showed he has adapted his game to be a threat on any surface.

Ballance back to best

Gary Ballance was one of the many England players to have a poor World Cup. In truth, he was treated poorly - thrown in at the deep end in the first match of the tournament at number three in the order - and was horribly out of nick.

So it was no real surprise when the Zimbabwe-born batsman regained his form on the Test circuit.

He backed up his century in the first Test with 77 and an unbeaten 81, and looks as though he is back to his best. Ballance now averages an astonishing 67.93 in his 10 matches for England.

He is sometimes criticised for scoring slowly. Admittedly, he does take his time getting himself in, but Ballance has shown he has the ability to switch gear and score quickly when he needs to. When he is scoring that many runs, who really cares anyway?


He has nailed down that number-three spot in what is now looking like a very good England middle order.

Root will be a special player for years to come

Since he was dropped for the final Test of the Ashes series, Joe Root has been scoring at an average of 110.10. He also became the second-youngest England batsman to reach 2,000 Test runs.

His unbeaten 182 off 229 balls was a display of class batting.


It seems every time Root strides to the crease, the momentum of the game swings in England's favour. He has that ability to put the pressure back on the bowling attack.

Not only has Root been England's best batsman in recent times, he has bowled handy spells and been an asset in the field, in close to the batter. The Yorkshireman is surely an England captain in the making.

Trouble at the top

Despite this confidence-building victory, there is still work to be done - most notably at the top of the order. Captain Cook scored 135 runs in the match and looks to be somewhere near his top form. The problem lies with his partner.

Jonathan Trott came back for this series after 16 months away from international Cricket. Before his break, he was one of England's most reliable run scorers - but not as an opener.

After a poor first Test, Trott did manage to muster an ugly half-century in this game but he doesn't look comfortable opening the batting. He appears to be on the move when the ball is being delivered, which leads to great difficulties when playing the swinging new ball.

Going forward, I can't see it getting any easier for the Trott. Unless you play him lower down the order - which won't happen given England's strength there - he must be dropped for the next Test. Adam Lyth, who scored 1,619 first-class runs for Yorkshire last season, must be given an opportunity to show that he is the man to partner Cook for this summer's huge Test contests against New Zealand and Australia.

Back-up bowling

For some time now, England have struggled to find bowlers capable of backing up Anderson and Stuart Broad's new-ball efforts.

Chris Jordan has been given a chance to show his worth against the nation of his birth for this series but, despite his outstanding fielding, he hasn't really impressed with the ball. He offers little pace or movement and fuels accusations that England's pace attack offers no variation.

Liam Plunkett deserves a chance after bowling well last summer. His extra pace and bounce could cause West Indies more problems on what should be a livelier Barbados wicket.

England thought they had solved their spinner issue after Graeme Swann retired when Moeen Ali dominated India's batting line-up last summer. But now he is rusty and showing that he doesn't have the experience to come straight back into the side and bowl as a frontline twirler.

Many would like to see Adil Rashid's leg-spin given a try and I believe we need to look at our spin bowling options before we head into an exciting, but tough-looking, summer of cricket.

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