At least Ben Stokes retaliated for firing his opposing number and rival as the world’s best all-rounder by knocking out Jason Holder on Friday. Otherwise, this was a chastening third day of the first test for the English deputy captain.
Little has gone well for Stokes since he won the Ageas Bowl toss and surprisingly decided to hit perfect bowling conditions before raising more eyebrows by letting Stuart Broad out of his first home test in eight years.
And the West Indies have proficiently benefited from the fact that England has been given the best of those conditions to achieve a leading position in the Southampton sun and give itself an excellent chance of a major victory.
England’s deputy captain, Ben Stokes, endured a chastening third day of the first test
Raising some of the spirit of his Headingley heroism three years ago, Kraigg Brathwaite led the way with 65 when the West Indies reached 318 and a costly 114 ahead of England.
Next, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley had to hold onto the face of another fiery new-ball burst from Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Holder himself to narrow that gap by 15. But England is still very much on the hind leg in the great return of cricket.
It was only when the ever-sincere Stokes, with the hint of a limp and a bloody big toenail, returned to succeed Holder’s dismissal by clearing the West Indian tail and ending with four to 49 that the captain could be satisfied with its many.
Stokes inspired 4-49 when the bowlers of England sometimes toiled on day three
How frustrating it must have been until then for Stokes to see the exciting and quick combination he first put together in Test cricket at the expense of Broad at Mark Wood and Jofra Archer only took Gabriel’s wicket between them.
And how Stokes and the selectors must have been mortified when Broad appeared on Sky yesterday to take them off their anger, pain and frustration by losing what he considered his shirt after excelling in South Africa.
Broad was definitely the elephant in the new Sky diary room all day as a bowling alley that might have been perfect for Brisbane and struggled its first Ashes test in 18 months on a sluggish Southampton surface.
The extra pace of Jofra Archer (above) and Mark Wood had no impact on England
Make no mistake, it was Stokes’ decision to throw his fastest two bowlers together here and omit Broad after insisting he wanted a big voice in the squad. And it was a phone call that, to be honest, was understandable at the time, even if it was still unexpected.
Wood and Archer didn’t exactly throw badly yesterday, but this reminded us that at least the extreme pace isn’t always everything in England and there is room for the good old fashioned virtues of line and length, embodied here for the West Indies by Holder.
At least all reports of Jimmy Anderson’s demise, which had been interrupted in two of his previous three tests, turned out to be premature when the old master returned to his old, precise and probing routine.
Anderson may have missed his longtime partner in crime in Broad, but he was exemplary on his return from the rib injury that curtailed his South African tour to be again the choice for England’s attack.
Brathwaite strikes the leg as he becomes the first batsman to pass 50 in the match
And Anderson took three more steps in these turns toward the holy grail of 600 Testwickets when he supplemented John Campbell’s resignation on Thursday by removing both Shamarh Brooks and, with the help of a review, the stubborn Roston Chase.
But Anderson had far too little support, as the West Indies showed the same discipline and determination in their percussion as they had shown with the ball when they bowled England on the second day for a disappointing 204.
Wood was absolutely fast again, hitting 95 miles per hour, but didn’t have the penetration he showed in South Africa, while Archer may have been trying to replicate Holder’s impact by slowing down his pace and trying to throw the ball.
The bowlers of England had a hard time when the West Indies reached a lead of 31 with the tea interval
TOP SPIN ON THE TEST
A visit to wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich’s innings of 61 hit his series aggregates the last time the West Indies toured England in 2017, when he hit 24 runs in six innings, averaging 4.80. Since early 2018, he has averaged 41.10, the highest for any goalkeeper with 500 runs during that time.
West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite went to 65 in the morning session and hit his first Test half century in 22 innings, dating back to July 2018, when he made a hundred against Bangladesh in Jamaica. Only Chris Gayle (43.11) has a better average this century than Brathwaite (33.71) among the West Indian openers Gotcha: Jofra (min. Five turns).
Ben Stokes and Jason Holder took each other’s wicket in the first innings. The last time a England captain rejected his opposite, and vice versa, was at Headingley in 1996, when Michael Atherton (who took two Test scalps) and the Pakistani Wasim Akram took each other out.
By Lawrence Booth
It was a logical policy, but it didn’t work for Archer in his first test against the West Indies since he left Barbados to his father’s country and his frustration was summed up when he took Shai Hope’s wicket just to be ruled out by a no ball.
It took a steady showing of Dom Bess to give Anderson the support he needed until Stokes burst late, the off-spinner who made the first breakthrough of the day to have Hope captured sharply by his captain and also Jermaine Blackwood. snares.
The West Indies certainly made England work hard, especially when Chase and Shane Dowrich carefully balanced 81 for the sixth wicket with the test and provided a decent if not decisive lead for their side.
Dowrich could only manage 24 runs in six innings when the last West Indies were here three years ago, but the goalkeeper has since been a vastly improved batsman – as he showed England in Barbados last year – reaching 61 before falling to Stokes .
England is not out of here yet. Stokes made that decision to hit first due to the Ageas Bowl’s bad reputation and he knows that anything over 200 will be a stiff target for the West Indies to hunt here.
But England will have to fight well today to get their noses up front and then bowl much better than yesterday to justify their stand-in captain the two big decisions before the game. Otherwise, a certain Stuart Broad expects to be back in Manchester next week.