Windies cut down by Bopara's attack

England 600-6 (dec) West Indies 85-1

To arrive at the happy place Ravi Bopara reached yesterday required a startling confluence of events. Without the birth of a baby, an injury to a key player and the poor form of another he would not have been in Bridgetown to compile a majestic maiden Test hundred and establish an impregnable position for England in the fourth Test.

On such improbable coincidences are careers made. Bopara was summoned from New Zealand last weekend as cover for Andrew Flintoff. It might have gone no further than that but then Johnny Prior was born slightly earlier than expected and his dad, Matt, flew home to see his first child. When the selectors decided to play six batsmen Bopara still had to overcome the challenge of Ian Bell, who had been selected for the tour before him.

So far, so JB Priestley. The rest looked ridiculously easy. Bopara might have been out when he was four and knocked out when he was 27 by a ball which smashed into the grill on his helmet. But in a quite compelling session, in which he picked up the gauntlet thrown down to him in the form of a ferocious spell of controlled short bowling by Fidel Edwards, he became a Test batsman at last.

He hooked and pulled with admirable intent, never once shirking the challenge, he larruped it generally through the on-side. He was enjoying himself hugely. This was all in England's interests – they needed a mountain of runs and they needed them quickly – but particularly admirable because Bopara had a bogey or two to lay. His first association with Test cricket, in Sri Lanka 15 months ago, had ended in embarrassment.

The most lauded young batsman of his generation, he finished the series with three ducks in a row, garnering a pair in Galle where his second innings terminated in his being run out after one ball. If there were demons he concealed them, as, fortunately for him, did the pitch.

England were able to declare at 600 for six, the first time since 2003 that they have managed to make so many runs. Each and everyone was needed as the pitch behaved in a similarly benign fashion towards West Indies. At 85 for one by the close, they still have much work to do and concentration may be the key. England's four bowlers will not be under-employed.

Bopara's hundred took 140 balls and was celebrated in Usain Bolt style – he said he wanted to do it as a compliment to the people of the Caribbean. He was in early after Kevin Pietersen's referral of his lbw decision was rightly turned down. It always looked out and the prima facie evidence – it pitched on and was hitting after the batsman missed it – confirmed it.

Paul Collingwood was as close he can get to sublime, which is perhaps not very sublime at all, but as ever he pulled with alacrity and unfurled the odd cover drive, probably to show that he could. They put on 149 in 34.2 overs but had to survive a wonderfully hostile burst from Edwards.

He had decided, rightly, that Bopara could be tempted into taking on the short ball, and peppered him. Having accounted for Pietersen, he should by rights have had Bopara caught by Jerome Taylor, but the fielder mistimed both his run and his catch.

Edwards kept bouncing, Bopara kept hooking. He struck a six which just cleared the fence and was hit smack in the grill – without it he would have been seeking urgent dental repairs and perhaps much worse besides. The method worked for Edwards eventually but by then England were way past 500, the target they had initially set themselves.

None of the rest of the West Indies attack provided a potent threat in the conditions but there was a modicum of turn. Collingwood should have scored his second hundred of the series but attempting to post it in authoritative fashion with his 13th four, the ball veered off to point.

Tim Ambrose was ruthless. Dropped from his third ball by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, he cut and pulled venomously. His fourth Test score above fifty came in 61 balls and could well have been converted into his second hundred had the declaration not been made.

West Indies were unbothered by England's opening attack. There was no swing and there was insufficient pace. Nobody bowled with the fire of Edwards. To general glee, England removed Chris Gayle after asking for a review of a lbw decision. The referral looked optimistic from the start and this seemed to be supported by the replays. Umpire Russell Tiffin, however, decided that he was wrong.

It still did not look right and the review system is still winning few friends. On this pitch it may yet have a part to play. A dodgy referral looks like the only way at present to dismiss the resplendent Ramnaresh Sarwan.

Kensington Oval: Scoreboard

Ball of the day

*Ravi Bopara was enjoying himself yesterday, tucking into some West Indian short stuff with glee – until Fidel Edwards clocked him on the chin with a short one. Bopara needed treatment and running repairs to his dented helmet.

Shot of the day

*Tim Ambrose, desperate to shine while the first-choice wicketkeeper Matt Prior is wiping bottoms back in Blighty, swept two mighty sixes off Sulieman Benn yesterday. The second was the pick, flying in front of square and into the stand.

Moment of the day

*There seems to be a trend creeping into the England side of trying to get to three figures with a boundary. Strauss managed it on day one but Cook failed. Collingwood seemed to be at it yesterday, too – but fell caught in the deep.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower