All eyes on Stokes as wickets tumble on compelling opening day

Third Test, close of play report (day one): West Indies 123 all out England 46-4 (Stokes 13*, Malan 13*)

Not for the first time – and it almost certainly won’t be the last – Ben Stokes managed to steal the thunder of one of his team-mates on a remarkable first day of the decisive third Test at Lord’s.on which 14 wickets fell.

Jimmy Anderson had moved to the brink of 500 Test wickets by removing Kraigg Brathwaite and Kyle Hope in a first session disrupted by rain but a devastating spell from Stokes, who wasn’t even brought into the attack until mid-afternoon, left Anderson still waiting for the one scalp which would take him to a milestone achieved by only two pace bowlers before him.

Late in the day, after West Indies had been bowled out for 123, Stokes again found himself the centre of attention as the tourists hit back to have England wobbling on 46 for four in reply

The Durham all-rounder ripped out the heart of the West Indies batting, taking six for 22 in 14.3 overs, which he bowled unchanged from the Nursery End up to tea and after it. He extracted movement from the pitch – the leg-cutter that accounted for Roston Chase with the help of the Lord’s slope was virtually unplayable – but just as importantly found prodigious swing.

Jason Holder will testify to the latter, as he was bowled by one that started a yard outside off and speared in late to knock back his off stump. The West Indies captain, despite having his bat in more or less the right place, seemed so transfixed by the magnitude of the movement that he totally neglected completing his defensive shot.

Stokes also shot out Shane Dowrich, caught low down by Alastair Cook at first slip, Kemar Roach, brilliantly snaffled by Anderson, diving in front of third slip, to whom the ball may well not have carried, and Shannon Gabriel, swinging hopefully at another huge inswinger.

In fairness, though, the wicket that gave him his momentum came almost immediately after Toby Roland-Jones had breached a slow but solid partnership between Kieran Powell and Shai Hope, one of the heroes of the West Indies’ comeback win at Headingley that levelled the series.

The Middlesex seamer managed to find the outside edge of Hope’s bat and a straightforward catch was taken by Alastair Cook at first slip. There was a more than a measure of relief in Cook’s reaction as he had dropped three simple chances in a row in that position over the course of two Test match days. Having missed Brathwaite and Shai Hope on the final day in Leeds, he also put down Brathwaite on three in the morning session here.

In the next over, Powell, desperate to record an innings of even minor significance in this series, drove straight back into the hands of Stokes in his follow-through. West Indies, from a position of 78 for two, had lost two wickets without adding to the score and before long they were 101 for seven, Jermaine Blackwood more culpable than most in heaving in ugly fashion at Roland-Jones.

Roland-Jones was the one change for England, who had dispensed with the services of Chris Woakes, perhaps brought back a little prematurely at Headingley. West Indies, obeying the intuition that you never change a winning team, fielded the same XI as in Leeds.

The dictum for the Home of Cricket is that you look up rather than down to gauge whether to bat or bowl and when Jason Holder called correctly as Joe Root spun the coin up high into the NW10 sky, he would have seen a mainly clear vista, and a hint of sunshine.

When he looked down, he would have seen something more alarming – moss or fungus creating a worrying-looking crop circle just short of length, but it didn’t deter the West Indies captain from deciding to take first use of the surface.

If, by shortly after tea, they were considering it a mistake to have done so, they were soon cheered that England’s batsmen seemed to encounter similar difficulties under the leaden skies and unnatural light of the floodlights.

Neither Roach nor Gabriel instantly found the kind of swing that England’s quicker bowlers had but there was sufficient seam movement for them to remain interested. Roach soon proved too much for Mark Stoneman, who edged behind to a ball that seamed from round the wicket but was short enough for him to have ignored. The Ashes opening dilemma remains just that.

Cook might have been considered to be in his element and had progressed to a battling ten from 42 balls when Roach lured him into nicking behind from over the wicket. Holder waded in to trap Tom Westley on the back foot before Root went too strongly for a drive off the back foot to his second ball and was well held to his left at first slip by Powell, who reacted late as if he was expecting his wicketkeeper to have first dibs.

England were really rocking at 24 for four but Dawid Malan, showing the kind of ability to grind it out that he displayed in the second innings at Headingley, knuckled down, playing one delightful back cut for four to remind us that he usually plays a more attractive brand of cricket. At the other end, 13 not out from 15 balls and with three fours already to his name, was the man destined to be the focal point of the day, if not the summer: Ben Stokes.

Third Test, teatime report (day one): West Indies 119-7 (Holder 9*, Bishoo 9*)

Ben Stokes and Toby Roland-Jones tore through the West Indies middle order in the afternoon session to take control of the decisive third Test at Lord’s. Stokes grabbed three wickets and Roland-Jones two as the tourists slipped from 78 for two to 101 for seven in the space of10.4 overs.

Roland-Jones started the slide by having dangerman Shai Hope caught at first slip by Alastair Cook, the first straightforward chance in four that he had held in that position. Stokes caught and bowled Keiran Powell in the next over before Jermaine Blackwood aimed a desperate heave at the Middlesex seamer. Then Stokes removed Roston Chase’s off bail with a lovely leg-cutter and followed up by finding the edge of Shane Dowrich’s bat, Cook accepting a low chance.

In the morning session it had been all about James Anderson. England’s leading wicket-taker tormented Kraigg Brathwaite as he set off in pursuit of the three wickets he required to reach 500 in Test cricket. Brathwaite, who had scored 134 and 95 at Headingley as he and Shai Hope combined to secure an extraordinary victory, had been dropped on three,- a simple chance to Cook, who spilled a third successive chance spread over two Tests – but had moved unconvincingly to ten when the Lancashire swing bowler finally tempted him to edge behind

After a rain break of 40 minutes, Kyle Hope, as hapless as his brother has been successful in this series, edged towards Cook as he tried to leave an outswinger and Jonny Bairstow, no longer prepared to trust the former England captain’s skills at slip, dived across in front of him to take an excellent catch.

Shai Hope, drawing the confidence that would be expected from becoming the first player to score two centuries in a first-class match in Headingley, looked in invincible form when he replaced his sibling, imperiously driving his first ball, from Anderson, for four through extra cover and he hit six more boundaries, mostly through the covers, until he was removed by Roland-Jones.

He and Kieran Powell, desperate for a signficant innings to feel like he has made a contribution in this series, had consolidated after going to lunch at 35 for two but England remained patient, keeping four slips most of the time as the ball, that had swung and seamed consistently from the word go, continued to balloon around – not what Jason Holder would have anticipated when he called correctly at the toss under clear skies.

They say you should look up when trying to gauge whether to bat or bowl at Lord’s, but looking down might have worried him more as a well-publicised crop-circle of moss and fungus had appeared on the surface.

But it was swing that was more troublesome from the outset and with the skies gradually darkening – necessitating the umpires taking the teams off after 50 minutes play – West Indies were left facing an immediate challenge of their renewed confidence they had picked up from their remarkable five-wicket win in the second Test.

Stokes, who ended the session with figures of three for 22 in 13 overs, missed out on a fourth wicket on the brink of tea when Holder edged to Joe Root at second slip but the England captain put him down.

Lord’s (day one, morning session) West Indies 35-2 (S.Hope 8*, Powell 17*) v England

Kraigg Brathwaite failed to build on his match-winning performance at Headingley, as Jimmy Anderson moved with one wicket of 500 in Test cricket on a gloomy and rain-interrupted first morning at Lords.

Brathwaite, whose 134 and 95 in Leeds helped guide the tourists to a remarkable five-wicket win to level the series, struggled to deal with the swing and seam that Anderson and his new-ball partner Stuart Broad found.

The opening batsman, whose display in Yorkshire is no doubt behind the county’s decision to hire him for the final two four-day matches of the season, scraped his way to ten in 35 balls before Anderson persuaded him to edge behind to Jonny Bairstow.

He had been missed on three when Anderson induced an edge from a pearler of an outswinger but Alastair Cook spilled his third simple chance in a row.

The former England captain is experiencing a worrying dry spell at first slip: he dropped Brathwaite on four in the second innings at Headingley, and Shai Hope, West Indies’ hero, later on the final day, as their opponents moved ever closer to their unlikely target.

This time the ball looped comfortably to him at knee height but he didn’t even lay his hands on it as it rapped him on the wrists and fell to earth.

The dictum for the Home of Cricket is that you look up rather than down to gauge whether to bat or bowl and when Jason Holder called correctly as Joe Root spun the coin up high into the NW10 sky, he would have seen a mainly clear vista, and a hint of sunshine.

When he looked down, he would have seen something more alarming – moss or fungus creating a worrying-looking crop circle just short of length, but it didn’t deter the West Indies captain from deciding to take first use of the surface.

Soon, England were happy that they did, as Broad swung the ball away from the left-handed Kieran Powell from round the wicket while Anderson tormented his partner at the other end. Powell was a little fortunate to escape when Broad finally gave him one that went the other way, the bounce of the ball all that saved him from being bowled when he shouldered arms.

But otherwise he left the ball with good judgment and Broad pitched a little too wide of off stump. Brathwaite combined getting behiind the line with a series of uncertain jabs and nibbles of his own. And it was no real surprise when he feathered one behind as he tried to snatch his bat out of the route of another Anderson beauty.

Shortly after a 40-minute break caused when a threatening, bruising cloud over the top of the pavilion decided to unleash its load, Anderson struck again. Kyle Hope, as hapless as his brother has been successful in this series, also tried to withdraw from an outswinger and got a thick edge. Bairstow left nothing to chance, diving right in front of Cook to claim a fine catch.

Shai Hope, the first batsman to score two hundreds in the same first-class match in Headingley’s history in the second Test, showed the extent of his confidence by driving his first ball from Anderson imperiously through extra for four.

Broadcast Schedule

England v West Indies 2024
ENG v WI 3rd Test, Edgbaston
26th July to 30th July
Start time: 11:00 am BST