Bravo shows his wayward team-mates the way to play

Youngster uses bat and ball to gain respite for the West Indies
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The Independent Online

According to a report in this newspaper earlier this week, Professor Stephen Hawking, who was described as "the most famous living scientist", has amended his long-held theory that after something falls into a black hole it is lost forever.

According to a report in this newspaper earlier this week, Professor Stephen Hawking, who was described as "the most famous living scientist", has amended his long-held theory that after something falls into a black hole it is lost forever.

Had he followed West Indies cricket in recent times he would have come to appreciate that in this particular sphere of human endeavour at least it is quite possible to fall into a black hole, break out of it and drop right back into it again, all in the space of a couple of afternoons.

The hypothesis was once more tested and proven at Lord's over the first two days of the first Test. The West Indies could not have been deeper in a hole than they were when play closed on Thursday. Their captain, Brian Lara, chose to bowl on winning the toss and watched, helpless, as his bowlers offered up such inviting fare that England rattled up 51 fours in a total of 391 for 2 from 84.1 overs.

The not unrealistic expectations were for an England declaration sometime around tea yesterday at, say, 650 for 7, and a final session of more misery for the bedraggled West Indies. It certainly was a scenario that ignored their utter unpredictably.

The transformation was not immediate. It was an hour and 20 minutes before they claimed their first wicket, finally dislodging Robert Key when he appeared capable of converting his first Test hundred into a triple at least.

Until then, their collective body language spoke of a team that didn't know where to turn to next. The brightly lit scoreboard showed 485 for 2 with Key on 221 and the captain Michael Vaughan on 68, moving inevitably towards a hundred of his own.

But there was one West Indian who was clearly not prepared to simply go through the motions. He was Dwayne Bravo, at 20 the youngest in the team and on his Test debut.

On the opening day, he delivered his nippy medium-pace with control and common sense. While others were taken for five and six runs an over, his 14 overs cost only 42 runs.

Lara summoned Bravo yesterday at 463 for 2 with heads hanging and shoulders dropping lower and lower. In his fourth over, Key latched on to a wide, short ball, hardly the best Bravo had bowled, and Lara snared a stinging catch at point.

It was a timely intervention and suddenly pointed the West Indies the way out of their latest black hole. They were not completely out of it while Graham Thorpe helped Vaughan to add 42. But another wicket from Bravo, to a careless stroke from Thorpe, and Andrew Flintoff's brief, anti-climactic appearance just before lunch sent the West Indies into the break in a happier frame of mind.

As the last seven England wickets tumbled for 41, with Pedro Collins following Bravo's example of maintaining the basics of length and line, and Chris Gayle and Devon Smith positively responded to their mammoth task with their opening partnership of 118, the West Indies were easing themselves out of their predicament.

Then came the traditional stutter before Bravo walked out for his first Test innings, passing his captain, fuming at an erroneous decision, on the way. In the role for which he is best known, he demonstrated why he is so highly rated by Sir Viv Richards and other knowledgeable observers with a nerveless, composed innings.

Lord's scoreboard

West Indies won toss

ENGLAND - First innings

(Overnight 391-2)

R W T Key c Lara b Bravo 221

426 mins, 288 balls, 31 fours

*M P Vaughan c Smith b Collins 103

228 mins, 154 balls, 12 fours

G P Thorpe c Jacobs b Bravo 19

34 mins, 28 balls, 2 fours

A Flintoff b Banks 6

4 mins, 4 balls, 1 six

ÝG O Jones c Jacobs b Collins 4

11 mins, 13 balls

A F Giles c Smith b Collins 5

9 mins, 10 balls, 1 four

M J Hoggard b Bravo 1

27 mins, 11 balls

S P Jones lbw b Collins 4

10 mins, 7 balls, 1 four

S J Harmison not out 4

4 mins, 5 balls

Extras (b 2, lb 20, w 13, nb 13) 48

Total (543 min, 121.4overs) 568

Fall: 1-29 (Trescothick), 2-320 (Strauss), 3-485 (Key), 4-527 (Thorpe), 5-534 Flintoff), 6-541 (G O Jones), 7-551 (Giles), 8-557 (Vaughan), 9-563 (S P Jones), 10-568 (Hoggard).

Bowling: Collins 24-2-113-4 (nb6, w5) (9-2-29-0 4-0-24-0 6-0-43-0 5-0-17-4), Best 21-1-104-1 (w1) (5-1-16-1 5-0-25-0 6-0-34-0 5-0-29-0), Edwards 21-2-96-0 (nb6, w3) (7-1-27-0 3-0-13-0 5-1-20-0 4-0-19-0 2-0-17-0), Bravo 24.4-5-74-3 (w4) (9-1-32-0 5-1-10-0 8-2-23-2 2.4-1-9-1), Banks 22-3-131-2 (nb1) (4-1-34-0 4-1-16-0 9-0-61-1 5-1-20-1), Sarwan 9-0-28-0 (4-0-11-0 5-0-17-0).

WEST INDIES - First innings

C H Gayle lbw b Giles 66

100 mins, 82 balls, 8 fours

D S Smith b Giles 45

92 mins, 63 balls, 7 fours

R R Sarwan lbw b Hoggard 1

24 mins, 12 balls

*B C Lara c G O Jones b Giles 11

36 mins, 27 balls

S Chanderpaul not out 41

101 mins, 68 balls, 6 fours

D J J Bravo not out 30

81 mins, 56 balls, 4 fours

Extras (b 4, lb 8, w 0, nb 2) 14

Total (4 wkts, 219 mins, 51 overs) 208

Fall: 1-118 (Smith), 2-119 (Gayle), 3-127 (Sarwan), 4-139 (Lara).

To bat: ÝR D Jacobs, O A C Banks, P T Collins, T L Best, F H Edwards.

Bowling: Hoggard 15-2-57-1 (4-0-20-0 8-1-26-1 3-1-11-0), Harmison 9-2-42-0 (3-1-24-0 4-1-15-0 2-0-3-0), S P Jones 7-1-39-0 (nb2) (4-0-24-0 3-1-15-0), Giles 20-3-58-3 (one spell).

Umpires: D J Harper and R E Koertzen.

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