Eng v WI First Test Day 1
It was thought at the start of this series that for a good performance from West Indies much will depend on the batting skills of the diminutive Shivnarine Chanderpaul a veteran of 140 Test matches and currently No.1 batsman in world Test rankings. On the evidence of the first day’s play in the opening Test of the series nothing has changed from that impression to remain firm. By stumps West Indies had reached 243 for nine with Chanderpaul unbeaten on a marvellous 87 from 175 balls in a defiant four hours at the crease.
England struck twice in the first hour with James Anderson – fully deserving the award given to him this week as England’s best cricketer of the year – claiming both wickets within eight overs for just 17. Kieron Powell seemed to be in two minds about playing a ball that swung into him and then left him to hit the top of off stump. Six overs later Kirk Edwards went leg before to a ball of full length which came sharply into him. Adrian Barath settled in well having opened his scoring with two beautiful drives through cover and cover point in successive overs from Anderson. With confident strokes he struck six boundaries in his first 25 runs.
Along with Darren Bravo, Barath took the total to 83 for two at lunch but the third over after the break broke the 54-run partnership when Barath’s slashing drive at Stuart Broad gave an overhead catch to Anderson standing at a wide second slip. He had added just one run to his lunch score of 41 from 101 balls and all but six of his runs had come from boundaries. It was a time for the tourists to carefully re-build the innings and having Chanderpaul at the crease there was every chance of that.
With his experience the younger players in the side certainly need his guidance. There has been much talk of him needing to bat up the order from his usual No.5 position to provide some stability to the top order but equally there seems need for him in the middle order to consolidate the innings which in this team seems to flounder more often than not.
Before making much further progress the fourth wicket fell on 100 after a run out mix up in which Chanderpaul would have his share of blame. He played a ball behind square leg and the non-striker Darren Bravo, whose call it was, ran down the full length of the pitch with his partner remaining unmoved. The 23-year-old Bravo, who has a Test average of 49.59 with three centuries and a highest score of 195, had played some fine strokes in his brief innings of 29.
It was left to Chanderpaul to revive the innings and he did so to considerable extent in partnership with Marlon Samuels. In a watchful stand they looked for gaps in the field for the singles and two’s and waited patiently for a loose ball to be dispatched to the boundary. It was precisely the manner in which the innings was to progress in order to bring about a recovery. Samuels gave fine support to his senior partner who remained solid in defence yet quick to pick up a run at every opportunity.
The left-handed veteran eventually reached his 60th Test half century, from 103 balls, when he straight drove a ball of almost yorker length from Anderson and ran two. It was a firm drive and would have sped to the boundary had not the bowler got his fingers to take the pace off the ball. In the following over his hard sweep shot off Graeme Swann to the square leg boundary took him to 55. The over proved to be expensive for the off spinner as Samuel came out to hit him to leg for four and two balls later Chanderpaul clipped him to the mid-wicket boundary.
With Chanderpaul on 60, West Indies lost their fifth and sixth wickets. Samuels drove a ball from Broad just outside off stump to gully where Jonny Bairstow, on his Test debut – having played six each of 50 and 20 overs internationals – held the catch. Samuels had 31 runs but more importantly helped his partner to put on 81 in a little under two hours. In Broad’s next over Denesh Ramdin was held at first slip for six. It was a beautiful ball which rose from a good length and moved away to take the outside edge. It was a ball that would have accounted for a good many specialist batsmen.
The new ball was taken immediately after it became due and Broad, bowling the second over with it reduced the visitors to 219 for seven having Darren Sammy caught at gully with the batsman attempting to turn to ball to leg and finding himself totally squared up. Having taken a return catch for the eighth wicket and then claiming the ninth Broad had six for 72 in a brilliant display of pace bowling.