England off to rocky start against West Indies despite afternoon session rally

Kemar Roach landed two major blows, dismissing debutant opener Alex Lees for just four before clean bowling Joe Root for 13.

Ben Stokes was bowled out by Jayden Seales (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Ben Stokes was bowled out by Jayden Seales (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

England’s hopes of banishing their post-Ashes blues in Antigua got off to a rocky start as they struggled to 145 for five at tea on day one of the first Test against the West Indies.

Exactly seven weeks since they concluded a miserable tour of Australia, Joe Root led a much-changed side into some familiar trouble at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. After much discussion about a ‘reset’ for their red-ball side, long-standing problems in the top order were quick to rear their head.

Kemar Roach landed two major blows, dismissing debutant opener Alex Lees for just four to continue England’s travails at the head of the innings before clean bowling Root for 13 offering no shot.

With Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence also failing to hold off a stirring effort from the home attack, England were in peril at 48 for four.

A stand of 67 between Ben Stokes (36) and Jonny Bairstow (35no) restored some stability either side of lunch but, when the former lost his leg stump to 20-year-old quick Jayden Seales in the afternoon session, the Windies were back on top.

Bairstow, who scored an unbeaten century in last week’s warm-up match as well as one in his last Test appearance in Sydney, carried the fight until tea with Ben Foakes 21no on his recall.

Root had the advantage of winning the toss on what looked a reasonable batting track, but England’s struggles to post big totals are deep-set.

Lees got off the mark with a boundary from his fifth ball in international cricket, squirting to third man, but that was as good as it got for the Durham left-hander.

Roach set him up with a sequence of away swingers then brought one back in to win an lbw. It was a high-class lesson for the newcomer after several years of waiting for his chance.

Zak Crawley lost his wicket (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Crawley had started with a glorious on drive for four and a punch through the covers but his stay was infuriatingly brief. Aiming a lavish drive at Seales, he allowed the bat to turn in his hands and gave a sharp catch to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva.

Root’s move back up to number three – aimed at bringing solidity to the line-up – did not go to plan, arriving far earlier than he would have liked and leaving in similar haste.

He was fortunate when he hit Roach through Jermaine Blackwood’s dive in the cordon, only to lose his off bail to a magnificent display of precision bowling from the Bajan.

Withdrawing his bat after his previous temptation, he saw the ball zip back in the perfect amount. Root needed to check behind him to confirm his fate, while Roach stood motionless at the top of his follow through, basking in the moment.

Jason Holder took care of Lawrence, who made a busy 20 before nicking to Blackwood, and did not concede a single run from his first five overs. The engine room of Stokes and Bairstow battled back, employing outright defence before lunch as they shared 10 runs in 74 deliveries, before picking up the pace.

Bairstow was reliably secured as he settled into the pace of the pitch throughout the middle session, but Stokes was not quite at his best. There was a mis-timed pull high over Da Silva’s head, a chance that Holder failed to pick up at second slip as he skewed off the toe end and an edge that fell just short.

His luck ran out after a pair of boundaries off Seales, stepping into a hungry drive and dragging down his leg stump. Bairstow continued to look steady and Foakes hit a couple of sweet strokes as the pair reached the tea break without further damage done.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in