11 July 2020 20:30
After four ebbing, flowing days, we are none the wiser as to what the score will be when the two teams meet again in Manchester on Thursday. Late on day four, things swung back the West Indies way as England lost five for 30 and Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph ran amok. England are 170 ahead, with two wickets in hand. But what we can be certain of is that England will be making changes to their team – most probably in both the batting and the bowling. Stuart Broad seems almost certain to return, whatever the pitch looks like.
And Joe Root absolutely, definitely will come back in at No.4 after the birth of his daughter Isabella nine days ago. Joe Denly and Zak Crawley, the two unproven members of England's middle order, have known this since before the Test began. The two Kent men knew their pecking order too: Denly, who is 34 and had worked extremely hard to average exactly 30 in his 14 Tests before this, went in ahead of Crawley, who is a dozen years younger and looked a player of promise in South Africa at the start of the year. He dug in, seeing off 128 balls, chipping into some helpful partnerships, before getting out; this time he got out in infuriating fashion, simply plopping Roston Chase to short midwicket. Crawley failed in the first innings, then played a gem of a hand in the second.
Crawley's style in South Africa suggests he could thrive in Australia, and England have made their interest in the Ashes, still 18 months away, even more abundantly clear in this Test match. However it was dressed up in private and in public, the selection of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood over Broad was as much about the First Test of that series in Brisbane as it is the First Test of this series in Southampton. It is time to show the same consistency of selection process when it comes to the batsmen. There is a gaggle of 22-year-olds, like Ollie Pope and Dom Bess, in the team or on its fringes, like Sam Curran and another coming man, Dan Lawrence. England suffered a late collapse in Southampton to close day four on 284-8 – giving them a lead of 170 over West Indies – to leave the first Test delicately poised.
Burns and Sibley continued on from the overnight total of 15 without loss in the early stages of Saturday's play, pushing their opening stand on to 72. Spinner Roston Chase finally claimed the initial breakthrough for West Indies, aided by Burns hitting a long hop to point, while he also tempted Joe Denly to chip a simple catch to mid-wicket. Having reached 29, England's number three once again failed to capitalise on a promising start. Sibley did carry on to register his first half-century on home soil in Tests, though departed soon after reaching the landmark. Reprieved when bowled off a no ball earlier in the same over, he was caught down leg by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich off the bowling of Gabriel, whose closing burst saw him finish with figures of 3-62. West Indies will be pleased by the way they hit back with the ball after tea, though a wearing Rose Bowl pitch showing signs of uneven bounce means a fourth-innings chase is by no means straightforward. Still, considering how well England were going with Crawley and Stokes together, the tourists should now be considered favourites. With Joe Root set to come back into the XI for the second Test, one of England's batting line-up will have to make way for the returning skipper. It seems a straight fight between Denly and Crawley, with the latter surely now ahead on points after making his highest score in the format. MOMENT OF THE DAY – GABRIEL GETS HIS MAN... Sibley appeared to have perished straight after reaching 50, bowled off an inside edge. A tight no-ball call initially offered him a second chance, yet the opening batsman failed to capitalise, lasting only two further deliveries before he was dismissed by the same bowler. A career-best score from Zak Crawley (76) and gutsy innings by stand-in captain Ben Stokes (46), took England out of hot waters after early blows on Day 4 of the first Test against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Crawley and Stokes dominated the play in the final session on Day 4, taking England's lead past the three-digit mark. Crawley smashed his half-century with a reverse-sweep shot off the bowling of Roston Chase. However, then Caribbean bowlers made a comeback as West Indies skipper Jason Holder, and pacer Alzarri Joseph sent both Stokes and Crawley in consecutive overs. Holder, who claimed Stokes' wicket in the first session got his English counterpart yet again. At the same time, Joseph sent set batsman Crawley back into the pavilion. Before English batters could even the loss created by the dismissals of Stokes and Crawley, West Indies struck three more wickets to restrict the run-flow completely. From 253-5 to 279-8 at stumps, the Caribbean bowling attack changed the flow of the game. We lead by 170 runs at the end of Day 4. All to play for on the final day. — England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 11, 2020 Earlier, England openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley dominated the morning session. Both added 72 runs before Chase provided the first breakthrough for West Indies after he ended Burns' innings for 42. A few overs later, Sibley (50) was trapped in a ploy as he tickled the ball drifting down the leg-stump which went straight to Shane Dowrich. For the visitors, Gabriel continued his rhythm of the first innings as he claimed three wickets in the second innings. Chase and Joseph shared two-scalps each while Holder bagged one wicket. A career-best score from Zak Crawley and an innings of bristling intent by acting captain Ben Stokes manoeuvred England into a promising position in the first Test against West Indies this afternoon, until a flurry of late wickets turned an engrossing match on its head. England laboured in the first half of the day to clear off the arrears of 114 — which they did for the loss of their openers — but Crawley was the first batsman to shift the momentum with an 80-ball half-century. When he was joined by Stokes, after the departure of Joe Denly for another modest score, the initiative shifted further as the highest stand of the match of 98 came at almost four runs an over. England stretched their lead to 170 at stumps on Day 4 with the scoreboard reading 284/8 after 104 overs, with Zak Crawley top-scoring for the hosts so far with 76. Southampton: England eked out a lead of 170 runs heading into the final day of the first Test against the West Indies, with all outcomes still possible in the first match since the resumption of international cricket. The West Indies' pace attack took five wickets in the final session of day four to reduce England to 284-8 at stumps at an empty Rose Bowl on Saturday, making the tourists marginal favorites with the pitch slow but yet to misbehave. Zak Crawley (76) and Dom Sibley (50) were the two batsmen to get half-centuries, while stand-in England captain Ben Stokes chipped in with 46 before the late Windies fightback. "It should be tight if we bowl well tomorrow," Crawley said, "especially if we get a lead of 200." Shannon Gabriel bowled Ollie Pope and Dom Bess in the last hour to finish with figures of 3-62 off his 18 overs. Joseph was also impressive, taking 2-40 off 16 overs.