Crawley (117*), Root (84*) dominate West Indies in Antigua
SUMMARY: England 311 (Jonny Bairstow 140, Ben Foakes 42, Ben Stokes 36; Jayden Seales 4-79, Jason Holder 2-24, Alzarri Joseph 2-70, Kemar Roach 2-86) and 217-1 (Zak Crawley 117*, Joe Root 84*) vs West Indies 375 (Nkrumah Bonner 123, Kraigg Brathwaite 55, Jason Holder 45, John Campbell 35, Joshua DaSilva 31, Veerasammy Permaul 26*; Ben Stokes 2-42, Jack Leach 2-79, Craig Overton 2-85)
Zak Crawley hit his second Test hundred as England dominated West Indies on day four of the first Test to set up an outside chance of victory.
Crawley capitalised on a lifeless Antigua pitch to make an unbeaten 117, while captain Joe Root reached 84 not out at the close.
Having started the day behind the game and in the field, England were 217-1, leading by 153 runs, when rain brought an early finish.
Earlier they took just three deliveries to claim the final West Indies wicket as the hosts were dismissed for 375 with a first-innings lead of 64.
But, despite the early loss of debutant Alex Lees for six, Crawley and Root wiped out the deficit and batted England into the ascendancy with a mammoth unbeaten stand of 193.
The tourists, who have struggled for large parts of the Test, now look the more likely side to win.
However, the placid nature of pitch means any quest to bowl out West Indies on the final day will be a struggle.
England turn it around
In this three-match series, England are bidding to improve on a dreadful run which has seen them win just one of 14 Tests.
The pitch is very helpful to batting and the opposition modest, but this day revealed a hint of what England will hope for during this much-talked about red-ball reset.
What little danger there is in the surface – just a hint of uneven bounce – was neutered by 24-year-old Crawley and Root, 31, and afterwards they progressed calmly with ease.
The West Indies attack, without any express pace or world-class spin, was as blunted as England’s had been across the previous two days.
Crawley and Root began to up their scoring late on, with England starting to look to set up a declaration.
The only wickets to fall all day were Jack Leach’s lbw dismissal of West Indies number 11 Jayden Seales and the fall of Lees, who, as in the first innings, went lbw missing a straight ball from round the wicket by Kemar Roach.
That suggests the draw is by far the most likely result. The rain late on did not help England’s cause, in taking time out of the game.
Crawley comes good
Crawley’s classy knock is significant in the Test, but even more so for England’s future in this format.
Root’s side are in desperate need of a settled top-order and this knock will secure the Kent opener’s place for a long period.
Crawley dazzled when making his first Test hundred, a stunning 267 against Pakistan in 2020. This was a more measured knock where he clipped the ball smartly off his pads.
It could have been different – Crawley was given out lbw on nought but overturned the poor decision on review, with the ball comfortably missing leg. But with his captain a steady presence alongside him, Crawley did not offer another chance all day.
The right-hander had a barren spell after his maiden ton which led to him being dropped last year when averaging 11.14 across seven Tests.
Now, having regained his place in the third Ashes Test in December and impressing with 77 against Australia a game later, England will hope that that poor run is behind him. (BBC Sport)