Joe Root could captain England until he is 40 and never emerge with as much credit as he will receive here after an emphatic victory where he has salvaged pride for his side and done wonders for cricket’s all too often tarnished image.
It will be the 232-run final Test win, completed within four days on Tuesday, and his 16th Test century that did so much to set it up, Root will want to concentrate on at the end of a series England lost in seven horrific days in Barbados and Antigua.
Yet for the cricket world and all those outside it who flocked to praise Root it will be his spontaneous response to what were clearly inappropriate comments from Shannon Gabriel on the third evening that will be a big part of the England captain’s legacy.
West Indies celebrate their series victory despite a heavy 232-run defeat in the third Test
Joe Root shakes hands with Shannon Gabriel after England confirmed their victory
Ben Stokes took the final two wickets as England finally saw off the West Indies tail on day four
Moeen Ali celebrates with Jimmy Anderson after taking three wickets on day four
Roston Chase takes the applause of the crowd after reaching a defiant century on day four
England celebrate the wicket of Shane Dowrich, caught by Ben Stokes in his armpit
The ICC have for once shown decisive leadership by charging Gabriel but it does not reflect well that their inclination at the end of the third day appeared to be to brush the whole sorry business under the carpet.
It was only when St Lucia woke up to widespread praise for Root and condemnation for the intrusion of homophobia into Test cricket that the umpires and the match referee seemed to wake up to the need to handle this unsavoury incident with the seriousness it deserved.
And let us get one thing clear. There is no excuse for Gabriel to use a term that rightly has no place in modern language.
This cannot be put down to cultural differences nor the unacceptable reality that homosexuality is still illegal in St Lucia and other parts of the Caribbean.
That only increases the need for West Indian cricketers, who play all around the world, to be aware of their wider responsibilities as role models.
Jonny Bairstow removes the bails and the stumps as Shimron Hetmyer is run out after lunch
Mark Wood celebrates after taking his sixth wicket of the match as England marched to victory
Jimmy Anderson ripped through the West Indies top order with three wickets before lunch
All of which should not concern Root. He has handled himself impeccably and done more than his bit to portray cricket in the best possible light here as well as guide his side to a hugely important consolation win.
This was how this series was meant to be when England arrived in the Caribbean fresh from their historic triumph in Sri Lanka and looking to start their biggest year in memory with another away win against supposedly inferior opposition.
That it took England until the third Test to get the right balance to their side, the correct tempo to their batting and the right personnel in their attack is a huge frustration but they are back on track now for the bigger battles ahead.
England almost have their Ashes team in place. For all the uncertainty over what seemed a confused selection for this Test, mainly the recall of Keaton Jennings, they have returned to basics, as Nasser Hussain urged them to do, and put round pegs into round holes.
An attack of Jimmy Anderson, back to his inimitable best with a three-wicket burst yesterday after Root had declared with a massive lead of 484, Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and a rejuvenated Mark Wood (or, fitness permitting, Chris Woakes) with Jack leach in reserve should the pitches turn will be more than good enough to bowl Australia out twice in English conditions.
And there is enough batting power in Root, Jos Buttler, Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen at four, five, six, seven and eight to put runs on the board and, ideally, bat responsibly enough to stop the extreme collapses that still dog them.
It is just the top three, then, that needs to be sorted and it is there England still have real problems.
A personal preference would be for the captain to move up to three, Bairstow to four and the gloves back in the hands of the world-class keeper-batsman in Ben Foakes at seven.
At least that would bring the search down to the openers – Rory Burns has one foot in place but still needs to do more. – even though Bairstow would again be moved away from his favourite position.
Ben Stokes added some quick runs in the morning as England pushed towards a declaration
Yes, he has kept outstandingly here and has the ability to be England’s modern Matt Prior but needs must and Foakes is too good to leave out.
For now England will be relieved by this commanding performance in Trevor Bayliss’s last away Test as coach, Anderson proving the pick of the attack and Moeen going past Tony Lock into fourth place in England’s hall of Test spinning fame with three wickets of his own.
Only Roston Chase, with some hearty hitting in his unbeaten century, held up England and lifted them from 110 for six to 252 before Stokes had the final word in dismissing the injured Keemo Paul.
This has been a disappointment for West Indies but they did enough in the first two Tests to suggest this should be more than another false Caribbean Test dawn.
They have to do their bit to make sure the Trinidadian Gabriel, who was booed when he came on to bowl and then serenaded with YMCA by the Barmy Army when he came in to bat, sees the error of his ways but this has been a momentous series for them.
Now, too, it has been a momentous end to the series for the statesman of sport that Joe Root has become.