Ruthless Lions Cruise to Win
England Lions provided their Test superiors with a handy template of how to beat the West Indies after surging to a 10-wicket victory on the back of Joe Root's unbeaten hundred.
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Root (115 not out) and Michael Carberry (72 not out) sent the Windies packing from Northampton with a heavy defeat and injury concerns for key pace bowlers Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul ahead of Thursday's first Test at Lord's
The Lions openers barely had a moment's worry against a depleted attack as they knocked off 197 to win with more than a session to spare.
Root's share brought him his second first-class century, much of it relatively easy pickings as he accelerated the scoring rate and the West Indies notably took their feet off the pedal.
England captain Andrew Strauss is embattled by some critics as his search for a 20th Test century, stretching back almost 18 months, goes on, but Root for one is keeping the faith.
"Straussy's a class act," he said. "He's got a fantastic record and is a fantastic captain. I hope he can lead the boys to victory next week."
Root also gave due credit today to the left-handed Carberry, who had more to fear from off-spinners Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels bowling in tandem on a fourth-day pitch.
"They bowled pretty well in patches and 'Carbs' played extremely well because he was playing a lot out of the rough," Root added.
"Even though he only got 70 odd it was a fantastic knock and great for us to see the team home."
The tourists' mid-match fightback faltered immediately on the final morning.
They had defied expectations on Saturday when Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped them wipe out a mammoth first-innings deficit.
But the tail lasted barely 30 minutes and after bowling their opponents out for 390, the Lions moved with the minimum fuss to 61 without loss at lunch.
By contrast, the West Indies cut hapless figures in the field.
Without strike bowler Kemar Roach - who took a blow on his right hand batting against Stuart Meaker this morning to go with the ankle he twisted two days ago - stand-in captain Kirk Edwards' options were further compromised when seamer Ravi Rampaul left the field after four overs with the new ball.
Darren Bravo was required to bowl only his second spell in first-class cricket and Root and Carberry were predictably untroubled when his scurrying medium pace was introduced as first change.
The Lions' openers, who discovered that team-mate Jonny Bairstow will be the man to replace the injured Ravi Bopara in England's squad for Lord's, turned on the style as the Windies conceded with barely a whimper after lunch.
Rampaul was back on the field at least, but neither he nor Fidel Edwards was used as the tourists opted for apparent damage limitation to their pace-bowling resources and allowed off-spinners Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels to go through the motions.
Root passed his 50 with his sixth four when Samuels went round the wicket and induced an edge from the new angle, at catchable height, wide of slip.
There were eight boundaries in Carberry's half-century, from 116 balls, and he too reached the milestone by edging an off-break from Shillingford past slip.
Root had needed 96 balls to post his 50 but more than doubled his boundary count to 14 as he scooted to three figures in only 36 more.
Appropriately, he completed the job thanks to a misfield.
Matt Coles (four for 76) struck twice this morning to finish off the West Indies' second-innings resistance for the addition of only 13 runs.
It might have been only seven or 11 had either Nick Compton at second slip or Root at short-leg managed to hold routine catches offered respectively by last pair Roach off Meaker and Rampaul off Coles.
But at such little cost, such minor details were never likely to prove significant.