Debutant Alex Lees falls cheaply for second time as England begin building lead

The tourists reached lunch on 72 for one on day four of the first Test against West Indies.

Alex Lees did not survive a review as England lost their first wicket against West Indies (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Alex Lees did not survive a review as England lost their first wicket against West Indies (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Debutant Alex Lees fell cheaply for the second time before England began building a lead in the first Test against the West Indies without further loss.

The hosts finished 375 all out after losing their final wicket to the third ball of the fourth day, 64 ahead on the first innings.

That looked a handy advantage but a bright start from Zak Crawley (45 not out) helped clear the deficit and take England in front by eight runs as he and Joe Root took lunch at 72 for one.

Zak Crawley was unbeaten on 45 at lunch on day four against West Indies (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Efficiency was the order of the day when England resumed needing one West Indian wicket, with Jack Leach obliging by nipping out Jayden Seales lbw. It was a deserved second success for Leach, who sent down 43.3 overs and 20 maidens on an unhelpful surface.

That brought England’s openers back to the crease, looking to make amends after a pair of single-figure dismissals on day one. Kemar Roach made a game attempt to see off both in the first over, teasing Lees’ outside edge as he swished with flat feet and winning an lbw decision against Crawley with a hooping inswinger. DRS came to the latter’s aid, and rightly so, with the ball visibly snaking down leg, but it was a warning shot.

The pair successfully battled through 10 overs, Crawley timing a couple nicely off his toes to get his eye in, before Lees came unstuck with the score on 26. With Roach attacking from round the wicket he was struck in front, unwisely taking a referral with him without consulting his partner.

Scores of four and six add up to an uncomfortable first appearance at this level, but with no spare openers on tour he has further opportunities ahead.

Crawley settled into his task, scoring with the kind of freedom that the West Indies were unable to find on a slow third day. A couple of balls after being hit by one that jagged back from Jason Holder, he mustered a fine reply, standing tall and pulling him through mid-wicket. He also located his cover drive and when Veerasammy Permaul’s spin entered the equation he took his first over for 10, slapping four through point then lapping another over his shoulder.

Root was almost undone by one that shot through low, but reached 20no at the break in play and it was his thick edge off Holder which skipped away to the ropes and put England back in front.

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