NO Anderson. No wide. But still a lot to fight for.
If you choose to Drop a pair that has 1,177 test wickets between them, the proxies had better come to the party.
After Jonny Bairstow reached 140 and England scored 311, the pressure was on Chris Woakes and Craig Overton to ensure cricket boss Andrew Strauss had no regrets dropping his iconic forward pair.
But Woakes and Overton allowed the West Indies to get off on a plane.
Forget the ‘Red Ball Reset’, England needed a new ball reset.
Then, triggered by Mark Wood and Ben StokesEngland dragged themselves back into a contest that could yet be defined by how Jack Leach, ruthlessly tight as the sunlight was dimmed, bowled the final knock.
All four Sears were under the wicket as the Windies ended day two of the first Test 202-4, still 109 runs behind England’s first innings overall but probably a neck ahead.
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However, Woakes in particular needs to improve his performance after leaking runs to all parts of Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
He came into this game in Antigua with serious doubts about his ability to deliver away from home.
Just 31 previous Test wickets overseas at a cost of 52 runs each was in stark contrast to the 94 sacrifices at a miserly 22 runs apiece on English soil.
Unfortunately, the limits were far too easy for him.
He needs to be better, straighter and fuller today – and England need to end the 75-run partnership between Jason Holder and Nkrumah Bonner quickly.
Earlier, England added 43 to their overnight score, surpassing 300 in 13 innings for the first time.
Bairstow and Woakes extended their partnership to 71 before the Warwickshire all-rounder gloved a Jayden Seales lob to grab keeper Joshua Da Silva for 28 valuable runs.
Overton followed just two balls later, Seale’s extra bounce landed a jab and Juggling collected on the short leg, the lanky bowler’s fourth victim.
Had Holder stuck to an easy back catch from Bairstow soon after, England might have struggled to get to 300 at all.
Wood went for a single when his attempt to rip Alzarri Joseph down ended up in the hands of Backpoint.
But Bairstow, at 126 when dropped, hit his third-highest Test score before Holder brilliantly collected a hoick across the line – far harder than the one he dropped.
Now it was about how England bowled with the new ball.
The answer – terrible.
Windies’ openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell brought out the first burst and were rarely troubled, even when England rolled slightly better lines after lunch.
Brathwaite is a born nurdler, but he raced to 50 with just 62 balls, including seven fours and a smeared six over the top of Leach.
But just as England was running out of ideas, Overton Campbell choked on the side of the leg for 35, gratefully caught by Ben Foakes at 83.
And as the ball began to reverse, Wood lured Brathwaite into chasing a wide ball, which was bagged for 55 by the plunging Overton at the gully.
Then Stokes, full of hustle and bustle and aggression – and premature bowling – sparked an easy drive from Shamarh Brooks, who was bagged by skipper Root on the first slip.
England had claimed 3-28 in 58 balls.
And when Woakes successfully pushed for a review after Jermaine Blackwood was caught by the ledge and thigh pad at Gully, they were right back at it, 127-4.
The relief on Woakes’ face was palpable.
He had been thrown to the limit twice more on his comeback and wanted to run a ball.
After the tea, England kept up the pressure, Leach bowled nine girls in a row without receiving a reward as the ball softened before Holder took a liking to Root’s off-spin.
Everything still to play.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17901097/england-west-indies-report-stokes-wood-root/ England’s bowlers struggle against West Indies in the Antigua heat but Mark Wood and Ben Stokes drag Joe Root’s men back into the Test