England weren’t spectacular against West Indies but at least their main players are ahead of the Ashes

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The West Indies were expected to roll over and play dead in England. The three-Test series wasn’t built up as an intense battle between equally matched sides. But cricket is a funny game.

After the Windies were walloped in the opening Test, losing an inc-redible 19 wickets on the third day of the day-night game at Birmingham, they hit back with a vengeance at Leeds.

England rallied on the fourth day and set the visitors a target of 322 but the Caribbean side didn’t throw in the towel, with Shai Hope scoring an incredible second innings ton to stun the hosts.

The final match at Lord’s was a slugfest with both teams dismissed for less than 200 in their first innings. It took a career-best effort of 7-42 from James Anderson to end the West Indies challenge on what turned out to be the last day of the Test contest.

England have undoubtedly learned a lot about themselves, something which might not have been possible in one-sided encounters like the first Test.

One of the biggest takeaways from the West Indies series is that while there aren’t many outstanding new talents waiting in the wings, the regular members of England’s Test team are still very much on top of their game.

The top three run-scorers for England were Alastair Cook (304), Joe Root (268) and Ben Stokes (228) while the leading wickettakers were James Anderson (19), Stuart Broad and Stokes (nine each).

Broad’s tally would have been better had England held on to the catches; they dropped at least 14 chances with seven of them off Broad. The only up-and-coming player to make a considerable impact was pacer Toby Roland-Jones. He was reliable in two Tests, picking up seven wickets.

And while it was not as spectacular as his debut game against South Africa, his efforts were consistent enough to give the management some confidence as they draw up plans for the next Test assignment – the Ashes in Australia in November. Batting, however, remains a major concern.

Mark Stoneman (120 runs from five innings) and Tom Westley (71 from five) hardly inspire any confidence while Dawid Malan (154 from four outings) was decent without being spectacular.

England’s top five still revolves around Cook and Root with Stokes and Moeen Ali providing resilience down the order alongside Jonny Bairstow, who admittedly had a poor series (59 from four innings), but offers experience.

Australia look a far more settled unit. Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb can deliver consistently and their bowling attack has never lacked any bite, with Pat Cummins doing a fine job in Bangladesh in the absence of Mitchell Starc and later Josh Hazlewood.

England haven’t unearthed any spectacular talent of late but at least most of the established names are still doing a fine job. The Ashes will be an altogether different challenge for new Test captain Root.

However, they can realistically hope to challenge the Aussies as long as their main players are fit and they hold on to their catches. If not, then they don’t have a Plan B.

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James Anderson's career in numbers as the Englishman moves top of ICC Test bowling rankings

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James Anderson

James Anderson has celebrated his 500-wicket milestone by returning to the top of the Test bowling rankings.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a numerical look at the Lancastrian’s international career.

506 – Test wickets following his exploits at Lord’s.

7-42 – his second-innings figures were his best in Test cricket, beating his previous seven-wicket haul against New Zealand at Trent Bridge in June 2008 by one run.

6 – bowlers with 500 Test wickets after Anderson joined Courtney Walsh, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath and Anil Kumble.

129 – Tests taken for Anderson to reach 500 wickets – the same as West Indies great Walsh. Muralitharan was quickest to the mark in 87 Tests, with the other three ranging from 105 to 110.

27.39 – his Test bowling average. Only Kumble of the 500 club has a higher average, 29.65.

24 – times Anderson has now taken five wickets in a Test innings. On three occasions he has gone on to make it a 10-wicket match.

18.95 – Anderson’s average at perhaps his favourite Test ground, Trent Bridge. He has taken more wickets at Lord’s, 90, but his 60 in Nottingham have come in just nine Tests as opposed to 21 at HQ.

35 – at 35 years and 42 days old, Anderson is the oldest world number one since Muralitharan in July 2009 and the oldest pace bowler to top the rankings since McGrath in January 2006.

2003 – the year Anderson made his Test debut, against Zimbabwe at Lord’s.

68 – number of Anderson’s Test wickets which came via catches from former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior, the most by any fielder. Current keeper Jonny Bairstow has contributed 35 catches and Alastair Cook 36.

11 – Anderson has dismissed Australia bowler Peter Siddle more times than any other opposing batsman.

613 – Anderson’s England cap number, meaning he was the 613th player to make his England debut.

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James Anderson stars as England seal series win over West Indies

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England beat West Indies by nine wickets to win the third Test at Lord’s on Saturday.

Victory saw England take the three-match series 2-1.

England, set just 107 for victory, finished on 107 for one as they won with more than two days to spare.

Mark Stoneman was 40 not out and Tom Westley 44 not out.

Earlier, James Anderson took his Test-best innings figures of seven for 42, a haul that included his 500th Test wicket, as West Indies were dismissed for 177 in their second innings.

This was the second time this series that a match had ended inside three days after England won the first Test — the inaugural day/night Test in Britain — by an innings and 209 runs at Edgbaston last month.

West Indies, however, then recorded a shock five-wicket win in the second Test at Headingley.

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