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Cook and Bell see England home.

QUETTA -- West Indies had commanded respect and, for a fleeting moment, they even invited hope among their long-suffering supporters but at the end of the Lord's Test it was a familiar tale of defeat. Two early wickets briefly raised West Indies' expectations that a startling victory might be in their grasp but they were summarily dashed as Alastair Cook and Ian Bell swept England to a comfortable five-wicket victory.

From 57 for 4, still 134 short of victory, Cook and Bell should have been under pressure, but they gambolled along at roughly four runs an over in a stand of 132. It ended with England two short of victory when Cook chopped Darren Sammy to gully. Ian Bell, who is already beginning to look like his old self again after a torrid winter, flicked Marlon Samuels through mid-on for the winning boundary in the next over.

The sun that is now finally promised after a raggy-arsed spring will have been a relief for West Indies, but it shone upon on an England victory that has put them 1-0 up in the series with two to play.

West Indies have now won just two of their 31 Tests since they dismissed England for 51 in Jamaica in 2009. They have only a few days to reassess before the second Test begins in Nottingham on Friday. All manner of theories will be bandied around about which absent players might have made them better, but the debate should not be about absent individuals, it should be about the reason most of them are absent - and that debate is about how the financial lure of IPL is threatening Test cricket, and Caribbean cricket in particular. There must be a window, a compromise, a solution. Instead what we have is a short-sighted flexing of muscles.

Apart from Kemar Roach, no West Indies bowler was able to build much pressure. England will feel stronger for having to answer a few questions and Tim Bresnan, who does not much look like a lucky mascot, which tend to be cuddlier and fluffier, now has 12 Test wins in 12. Mascot or not, it is about the identity of their third seamer at Trent Bridge that England's own debate will most centre.

There were no 4am queues as there had been at Lord's for the final day against India a year earlier but expectancy was high and there were officially 7,000 in the ground for a final day that many had assumed would not happen. West Indies had given England a fiery four overs on the fourth evening but they needed early wickets to stir the imagination a second time.

They got them too: Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen removed with the new ball still hard. On each occasion, a West Indies fast bowler responded to a boundary by delivering something better.

Roach, West Indies' main hope, set things moving in his third over of the morning. Trott steered him deliberately through the slips for four, and had a similar outcome in mind from the next ball, but this time it gripped up the hill and Darren Sammy took a good catch to his left at second slip.

Pietersen had fulsome strokeplay in mind to get England out of a tight corner. He had memories of a big hundred in Colombo to sustain him, and the adulation of IPL. It was not long before he was met by a debutant, Shannon Gabriel, and the temptation to break his nerve immediately must have been high.

Gabriel, a 24-year-old Trinidadian, dragged his third ball down short and wide and Pietersen pulled it haughtily to the midwicket boundary for four. The next ball was also short, but straighter, and Pietersen was cramped as he again sought out midwicket's open spaces and succeeded only in bottom-edging to the wicketkeeper.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:May 23, 2012
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