West Indies fight back af­ter su­per show from Stokes to ex­pose Eng­land frail­ties

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Stocks

JUST when you thought Ben Stokes had wres­tled this see-saw se­ries back into Eng­land’s grasp with an ir­re­sistible dis­play of swing bowl­ing, West Indies again con­founded ex­pec­ta­tions by ex­pos­ing the home team’s brit­tle top or­der.

Any team who are bowled out for 123 on the first day of a Test as the tourists were here are surely des­tined for de­feat?

But Eng­land are noth­ing if not char­i­ta­ble. So, de­spite Stokes’ ca­reer-best haul of 6-22, the fa­mil­iar top-or­der fail­ings that have haunted this team for so long reared their head again to let West Indies back in.

Fail­ures by novices in Mark Stone­man and Tom West­ley were no sur­prise, es­pe­cially given the gloomy, late-evening con­di­tions that made bat­ting so treach­er­ous.

In­deed, the loss of Alas­tair Cook and cap­tain Joe Root, that saw Eng­land slip to 24-4 in re­ply, un­der­lined the fact that these were con­di­tions even the best bats­men were likely to strug­gle with.

It means this de­cid­ing match – and a se­ries that is level at 1-1 - is fas­ci­nat­ingly poised head­ing into the fi­nal four days.

Eng­land will be­lieve they have enough depth in their bat­ting to re­cover from yet an­other toporder col­lapse and post a sig­nif­i­cant-enough first-in­nings lead. The fact Stokes is still there at the crease, along­side Dawid Malan, will give them fur­ther con­fi­dence that will in­deed be the case.

This has been a sum­mer where the Durham all-rounder has been in im­pe­ri­ous form with the bat, scor­ing a de­ci­sive hun­dred in the third Test against South Africa at The Oval back in July and then an­other cen­tury against West Indies dur­ing Eng­land’s shock de­feat at Head­in­g­ley last week.

How­ever, this was the best he has looked bowl­ing-wise dur­ing a sum­mer where he has been un­der-par with the ball.

The way Stokes cut a swathe through West Indies’ bat­ting lineup was sim­ply out­stand­ing. It left poor James An­der­son wait­ing for his 500th Test wicket af­ter he had crept up to 499 thanks to his early dis­missals of Kraigg Brath­waite and Kyle Hope.

That saw West Indies end a rain-in­ter­rupted first ses­sion on 35-2 af­ter Ja­son Holder, their cap­tain, had elected to bat first af­ter win­ning the toss.

An­der­son’s first 12-over spell was im­pres­sive but it took the in­tro­duc­tion of Toby Roland-Jones from the Pav­il­ion End to end a prob­lem­atic 56-run stand be­tween Shai Hope, whose twin cen­turies won his team the Head­in­g­ley Test, and opener Kieran Pow­ell. It was Hope who was ex­tin­guished on 29, Roland- Jones, re­called on his home ground of Lord’s, find­ing the edge that was taken by Cook at first slip.

The for­mer Eng­land cap­tain had dropped Brath­waite on three in the morn­ing but he made no mis­take here.

Stokes then en­tered the fray with his first wicket of the day in the next over, tak­ing a smart re­turn catch to get rid of Pow­ell 39 and leave West Indies on 78-4.

They were 87-5 when RolandJones made Jer­maine Black­wood pay the price for a lav­ish drive, the Ja­maican’s stumps shat­tered with his score on just one.

Stokes then com­pletely dom­i­nated as he started to pro­duce prodi­gious swing.

By tea, with the tourists on 119 for seven, he had bowled Ros­ton Chase with a beau­ti­ful outswinger and given Cook an­other catch­ing op­por­tu­nity at first slip to dis­miss Shane Dowrich.

How­ever, Stokes took just 16 min­utes af­ter the in­ter­val to wrap up the in­nings as Ja­son Holder, bowled by a fan­tas­tic in­swinger, Ke­mar Roach, caught by An­der­son, and Shan­non Gabriel, an­other who was bowled, all fell.

The fact this all came dur­ing a marathon spell last­ing more than two hours made it even more im­pres­sive. Stokes’ place on both hon­ours boards at Lord’s was fully

de­served. West Indies, though, showed it wasn’t just Eng­land’s bowlers who could use the cloud cover to their ad­van­tage.

Stone­man, whose half-cen­tury at Head­in­g­ley was en­cour­ag­ing, will still be un­sure of his place on this win­ter’s Ashes tour af­ter he edged Roach be­hind on one to a shot he shouldn’t have played.

Eng­land were 1-1 and were soon 15-2 when Cook fell to Roach in ex­actly the same man­ner, although no blame could be ap­por­tioned to the bats­man this time given how good the ball was.

West­ley will not want to see his dis­missal again af­ter he was trapped lbw by Holder on eight. The Es­sex bats­man’s grip on the No3 po­si­tion is now se­ri­ously ten­u­ous. You would think only a cen­tury in Eng­land’s sec­ond in­nings will see him re­tain his place for the Ashes.

Eng­land were 19-3 af­ter West­ley dis­missal and re­ly­ing on Root to bail them out yet again.

That wasn’t go­ing to be on this oc­ca­sion, though, as Root gave Holder his sec­ond wicket, Pow­ell hang­ing on to the chance at first slip.

The bad light that saw play end pre­ma­turely spared Eng­land bat­ting an­other half-hour last night. It may prove de­ci­sive come the end of this bril­liant se­ries.

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Five, six, heaven: Ben Stokes cel­e­brates dis­miss­ing Ke­mar Roach for his five-for and then end­ing the in­nings by bowl­ing Shan­non Gabriel for his sixth scalp, inset

Roar emo­tion: Ja­son Holder salutes the wicket of Tom West­ley

Screamer: Jimmy An­der­son sends Kraigg Brath­waite back to the pav­il­ion

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