England coach Peter Moores was glad to put a disappointing winter behind him and bask in the “euphoria” of a hard-fought Test triumph against the West Indies.
The tourists claimed a nine-wicket victory on the last day in Grenada, defeating both their opponents and a lifeless pitch to take a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
It had been several long months since the side previously celebrated with such enthusiasm, following a poor run in the one-day game that culminated in World Cup humiliation.
And Moores was happy to take in the moment.
“It was a great win and a great feeling,” he said.
“In many ways it felt like a reward for all the hard work that you’ve seen going on by the players and the coaches, everybody.
“It all comes through and you can feel the euphoria of the win, especially when it wasn’t expected as much and we knew it would be very tough on that pitch.
“It is a great release. It was fantastic, and it was great to see everybody enjoying themselves.
“We came back to the hotel, there were lots of fans there and it was great.
“It is a big series because we’ve had a tough winter of one-day cricket, so to try and to get people thinking positively about English cricket is key.”
Moores knows better than anyone that he is expected to deliver a series win in the Caribbean, with the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board Colin Graves promising an inquest should he fail to do so.
So despite his clear satisfaction, Moores is already focusing on finishing the job this week in Barbados.
“I want everyone to really enjoy the win, but then straight away we’re looking at where we can take it to, where we can improve and play better cricket,” he said.
“In this game we could still have played better but the win allows us to take another step forward and it gives everybody confidence.
“We talk about playing bold cricket and it helps when you win because it gives you something back for the hard work and gives you confidence.
“I don’t see it as a relief to have won, I just see it as a reward. The next Test will come along quickly and the excitement now is we’ve got a big Test match coming up and a chance to win the series 2-0.”
England would probably have been looking at a second successive draw had James Anderson not imposed himself on the game in the final morning.
The 32-year-old, who became the country’s leading Test wicket taker in Antigua last week, had a hand in six consecutive dismissals to turn the match decisively in his side’s favour.
Three of those came in a masterful new-ball spell, before he added two catches and a run out to scupper the West Indian fightback.
“I think it was a great example of what playing for your country means,” said Moores.
“He found something in him that pushed him to another level. He was like a youngster again.
“It was a world-class spell of bowling. The areas he bowled, the plans he delivered, the pace he bowled – I think he bowled close to 90mph – was Jimmy at his best. And on that sort of pitch you need a world-class performer, sometimes, to open the game up.
“Jimmy Anderson is a master of his craft and on the last day everybody at the ground got to see a guy at the top of his game, fully motivated, bowling brilliantly.
“That then will inspire others to do the same.”
Moores’s side, like so many before them, seem more adept in the longer format and he conceded there is now sharp distinction between England’s red- and white-ball cricket.
Asked to explain the difference between his team’s 50-over failures and Test triumphs, he said: “Honestly, our one-day cricket has been in a backwater for a while.
“The rest of the world have moved. People have talked about that and I think they’re right.
“We’ve got to catch up on that side but they’re nearly two different games. This winter we didn’t play well enough.
“But it’s great to see us get back to Test match cricket and start to play well and build on that with a lot of Test match cricket coming.
“We’ve got an emerging Test match team which I think is very exciting because of the mix of senior players and young players coming through.”
England’s captain Cook believes English cricket should “cherish every moment” Anderson plays for his country following his match-winning performance on Saturday.
England were left with a chase of 143, knocked off with ease by Cook (59 not out) and Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance (81no), the latter reaching 1,000 Test runs in just 17 innings.
But it was Anderson who rightly took most of the plaudits after enabling England to take a 1-0 lead with just one game remaining in the series.
“We should cherish every moment he bowls for England,” Cook said.
“We turned up at the ground thinking it would be a lot of hard work on a flat wicket and it was.
“But when you’ve got special players in your team they can produce special performances at the drop of a hat.
“When Jimmy got that rhythm going I thought he would be the guy to change the game. I was slightly surprised with his run out and his two catches, I didn’t quite know he had that in him, but it was fantastic skill and heart.
“His spell in that heat, after all the overs he bowled in this game and the last one was fantastic. It was the turning point.
“Sometimes we take Jimmy for granted because we kind of expect him to be able to swing it both ways, reverse it and never miss his length. That doesn’t always happen but he’s pretty close time and time again.
“I’m very lucky to have played with Jimmy and to still be playing with him.”
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