SOUTHAMPTON           -        England were dismissed for 204 thanks to West Indies captain Jason Holder’s superb 6-42 on day two of the first Test at an empty Southampton while England were then not at their best with the ball, with West Indies moving to 57-1, 147 behind at the close of day two.

Holder, who at one stage took 3-1 in 14 deliveries, was backed up by 4-62 from the pacy Shannon Gabriel. On a pitch offering plenty for the bowlers, England’s batsmen showed obvious signs of rustiness in their first Test since the Coronavirus lockdown. Captain Ben Stokes was dropped twice in his 43, wicketkeeper Jos Buttler briefly impressed for 35, and it needed a last-wicket stand of 30 between Dom Bess, who made 31 not out, and James Anderson to carry England past 200.

On a grey, murky day, the floodlights were on throughout, and bad light forced the close with 26.3 overs still remaining. The weather is forecast to improve on Friday, meaning the tourists could get the best batting conditions. However, with the surface already showing signs of uneven bounce, they also face the disadvantage of having to bat last.

The circumstances in which this match is being played mean neither side have had ideal preparations - England’s training camp involved one internal practice match and West Indies’ two. In conditions that should have suited England - cool, damp and the ball holding the upper hand over bat - West Indies had much the better day, displaying all the discipline, application and organisation that helped them take the series when these two sides met in the Caribbean 18 months ago.

They bowled a fuller length than England, then suffered only one setback in an evening session that could have posed a real danger to their batsmen. West Indies’ intelligent use of the review system also helped them overturn five decisions during the day. England still have the opportunity to fight their way back into the contest, especially if they make early inroads on Friday. However, the performance of tall seamer Holder has only enhanced the suspicion that the omitted Stuart Broad would have been a real asset to England this surface.

One subplot of the series is the contest between Holder and Stokes, ranked one and two respectively among Test all-rounders and the captains in this match. While at one stage it looked like Stokes would hold England’s batting together, he became the first victim of a Holder burst that ripped the guts from the middle order.

Holder had earlier trapped Zak Crawley lbw and got Ollie Pope to poke behind, and returned to end a sixth-wicket partnership of 67 between Stokes and Buttler. Finding seam movement and bounce from a full length, Holder got Stokes to push at one, resulting in an edge behind, then produced a beauty to take the edge of Buttler, with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich taking an excellent one-handed diving catch.

When Holder overturned an unsuccessful lbw shout against Jofra Archer, it completed an England slide from 154-5 to 157-8. The combative Bess played some punchy strokes but was left stranded when Gabriel, who took the first three wickets, returned to splatter the stumps of last man Anderson.



(OVERNIGHT: 35-1):

R Burns lbw b Gabriel 30

D Sibley b Gabriel 0

J Denly b Gabriel 18

Z Crawley lbw b Holder 10

B Stokes c Dowrich b Holder 43

O Pope c Dowrich b Holder 12

J Buttler c Dowrich b Holder 35

D Bess not out 31

J Archer lbw b Holder 0

M Wood c Hope b Holder 5

J Anderson b Gabriel 10

EXTRAS: (lb6, nb2, w2) 10

TOTAL: (all out, 67.3 overs) 204

FOW: 1-0, 2-48, 3-51, 4-71, 5-87, 6-154, 7-157, 8-157, 9-174, 10-204.

BOWLING: Roach 19-6-41-0; Gabriel 15.3-3-62-4; Joseph 13-4-53-0; Holder 20-6-42-6.


K Brathwaite not out 20

J Campbell lbw b Anderson 28

S Hope not out 3

EXTRAS: (lb 6) 6

TOTAL: (1 wkt, 19.3 overs) 57

FOW: 1-43

BOWLING: JM Anderson 8-4-17-1, JC Archer 6-0-20-0, MA Wood 3.3-1-8-0, BA Stokes 2-1-6-0.

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Kettleborough, Illingworth

TV UMPIRE: Michael Gough