England flirted with collapse on day one of the second Test against the West Indies but centurion Ben Stokes and a record-equalling Joe Root took advantage of dismal catching to hand the hosts a foothold at Headingley.
The Windies’ very worthiness as tourists was called into question after last week’s day/night capitulation at Edgbaston but Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel bowled with pace, pride and purpose only for four dropped chances to undermine their bold attempt to reignite the Investec Series.
Stokes was put down on nine before making a devil-may-care 100, with Root’s reprieve on eight allowed him to make 59, equalling AB de Villiers’ world record of half-centuries in 12 consecutive Tests as England made 258.
Kieran Powell and Kraigg Brathwaite were the guilty parties, both shelling regulation chances in the slips, but Alastair Cook made no such mistake when James Anderson found the former’s edge to leave the islanders 19 for one at stumps.
Tweet of the day
Stat of the day
142 – the combined runs added by Stokes and Root after being dropped in the slips in single figures, or 55 per cent of England’s entire total.
Powell may have gifted Root a life in the cordon but Cook did not afford him the same courtesy, hanging on when Anderson took the edge. That took Cook to 150 catches, just the 11th non-keeper to reach that mark in Tests.
Shot of the day
England were 30 for two, the West Indian pacemen were touching 90mph and Root’s first five balls had all been dots. His sixth was a different story, invited to drive by Roach he wholeheartedly accepted, leaning into a merciless cover drive and holding the pose as it raced away to the ropes in the blink of an eye.
During the much-trumpeted day/night Test at Edgbaston, the floodlights were turned on during the tea break, meaning the teams went under the bulbs for the first time at 7pm. Here, it was back to traditional daytime Test cricket with a red, rather than a pink ball. Naturally, then, the Headingley lights were fired up before 3.30pm after some afternoon cloud cover began to hinder visibility. Cricket continues to confound all attempts to make sense of it.
The West Indies will be frustrated by their mistakes in the field but boosted by a day where they disproved some of the grimmest reviews of their abilities. If they can find two batsmen with the nerve and skill of Roach and Gabriel, a sell-out crowd has a game on their hands. England, meanwhile, will hope Anderson’s hunt for 500 Test scalps inspires a big spell first up – he is currently on 493 . Chris Woakes should also be hungry to show what he can do after Toby Roland-Jones’ impressive deputising stint during his recovery from side trouble.