Tourists forget the importance of first day's play

At his pre-match conference, Brian Lara identified the West Indies' frequent first-day flops as a problem they had to overcome to prevent their domination by England. It was, he noted, "pretty straightforward" what his players needed to understand.

"The first day is very, very important," he said. "We have to start in front, to show the way, and defend that position. We don't want to be coming from behind the eight-ball every time." It was, he noted, to be the main focus at the team meeting.

"Hopefully we're going to see that come to fruition tomorrow," was the parting comment. He was to be disappointed yet again, despite heartening performances by two of his young charges - Sylvester Joseph, on debut, and Dwayne Bravo - and the familiar reliability of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Lara was bold enough to bat on winning the toss, a reverse of the decision that cost him so heavily in the first Test at Lord's. It would have been more understandable had he bowled. The sky was grey, heavy overnight rain delayed the start by an hour, conditions were humid and the pitch carried more of a green tinge than at Lord's. But batting is the West Indies' strength and, even with a new opening batsman in Joseph, it was the only logical decision.

By mid-afternoon, with Joseph batting with the aplomb of a veteran, Ramnaresh Sarwan well entrenched and the partnership worth 75, a hard afternoon lay ahead for England. A matter of 35 minutes demonstrated the difference between a confident, well-balanced team and one so uncertain it finds it difficult to seize the moment.

Suddenly, Sarwan offered a loose drive at Andrew Flintoff and dragged an ordinary ball back into his stumps, as he had done at Edgbaston.

Lara then exposed his leg-stump and Flintoff duly hit it with a full-length delivery. It not only heightened the assertion that the West Indies captain is disconcerted by England's newest Ian Botham, but also that it is a small, penetrable, chink in the left-hander's armour. It triggered the memory of his first-ball dismissal to Craig White at The Oval four years ago.

As the reliable Chanderpaul joined Joseph, who had batted with sound judgement for two and a half hours, it was time for consolidation. But when Joseph fell to a weak shot off the lively Steven Harmison, three wickets had gone for 23 and the initiative was back with England.

Joseph's first innings in Test cricket was promising. The 25-year-old Antiguan had never opened the innings at any level but looked right for the part. He was replaced by the 20-year-old Bravo, another newcomer. After his promising debut at Lord's, his batting has not matched the quality of his medium-paced bowling and he arrived with no form to recommend him. At 108 for 4, a total of 200 loomed.

Chanderpaul's qualities have been long since established, Bravo now set about confirming his. With brave, attacking cricket the two added 147. They were 40 minutes away from the end of an opening day that would have pleased Lara.

But Bravo spoiled his notable effort with a careless stroke, Chanderpaul followed in the probing Hoggard's next over and the West Indies were behind the eight-ball once more.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'