Bairstow rescues England after West Indies surge

England 268-6 (Jonathan Bairstow 109*, Ben Foakes 42, Ben Stokes 36, Chris Woakes 24*, Dan Lawrence 20; Jason Holder 2-15, Jayden Seales 2-64, Kemar Roach 2-71)


Jonny Bairstow’s sensational hundred rescued England after their new era began with a familiar batting collapse on day one of the first Test against West Indies in Antigua.

Bairstow came in at 48-4 and hit 109 not out, his second ton in as many Tests, to steer England to 268-6 at the close.

He put on 67 with Ben Stokes and 99 with Ben Foakes, who made a composed 42 on his recall to the team.

In their first Test since their humiliating 4-0 Ashes defeat, England lost four wickets in the first session, including captain Joe Root – bowled by Kemar Roach for 13.

Alex Lees made just four on debut while Zak Crawley nicked behind for eight to follow his fellow opener in departing inside four overs.

Jayden Seales had Zak Crawley caught behind • Mar 07, 2022, © Getty Images

But Bairstow showed great application before becoming increasingly aggressive as West Indies lost their discipline and tired late in the day.

He shared an unbeaten stand of 54 with Chris Woakes to reach the close unbeaten, Woakes ending 24 not out.

On a slow pitch Bairstow’s knock put his side in a decent position, one that looked out of reach earlier in the day, as they look to move on from their Ashes fallout and a run of one win in 14 Tests.

Bairstow rescues ‘new’ England

All of the talk in the lead-up to this three-Test series has been of England’s “red-ball reset”.

Former head coach Chris Silverwood departed last month and record-breaking bowling pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been left out. But when the top order wilted once again, England were in a situation that became all-too-common during the Ashes.

They made six changes from the final Ashes Test defeat in Hobart but it was Bairstow, a 32-year-old playing his 81st Test, who stood-up when his side looked like plunging further.

After being recalled for the third Test in Australia, Bairstow hit the only England century of the series a match later in Sydney before missing the final Test through injury. This century was every bit as impressive as that courageous knock in the drawn Test at the SCG.

The only scare came on 59 when he was given out caught behind off left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, but an immediate review saw him reprieved, having clearly missed it.

He took 128 balls to reach 50 but only another 62 to go to his eighth Test hundred, attacking the increasing amount of width on offer.

After Stokes was bowled by 20-year-old seamer Jayden Seales for a scratchy 36, it was the partnership between Bairstow and Foakes that swung the day in England’s favour.

Wicketkeeper Foakes looked impressively assured until getting a delivery from Jason Holder that kept a little low and trapped him lbw.

The day will be remembered for Bairstow’s knock – an innings that could prove crucial in halting the downward spiral of this England side.

Another top-order collapse

That spiral only looked like continuing after another dismal top-order display.

Lees was perhaps unfortunate. The 28-year-old Durham left-hander was set-up brilliantly by Roach to be trapped lbw from round the wicket – a decision that was upheld on review but a close umpire’s call on impact.

But opening partner Crawley played an awful, loose drive and was superbly caught off an inside edge one-handed by wicket-keeper Joshua da Silva diving to his right.

Kemar Roach bowled Joe Root one ball after he was dropped at slip • Mar 07, 2022, © Getty Images

Having promoted himself to number three in this new line-up, Root made a rare error and was bowled leaving a ball that nipped back from Roach, while Dan Lawrence, recalled to bat number four, poked to offer a catch to second slip on 20, having previously looked settled.

England ended the first session of their new era 57-4.

Experienced pair Roach and Holder, who bowled five overs without conceding a run before lunch, were excellent in the first session but youngsters Seales and Alzarri Joseph offered too many boundary balls afterwards, spoiling West Indies’ fine start.

Holder also put down Woakes on nought – a tough diving chance at slip off Joseph – and the slow surface saw other edges fall short of fielders. (BBC Sport)

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