Stokes powers England to 469-9 dec against West Indies


Manchester: Ben Stokes’ impressive 176 took England to an imposing first-innings score of 469-9 declared in the second Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford on Friday.

That left the tourists with a potentially tricky hour to bat before stumps on the second day.

Earlier, Dom Sibley weighed in with a painstaking 120 and helped Stokes add 260 for the fourth wicket after England had been struggling Thursday at 81-3 following the loss of returning captain Joe Root.

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach checked England’s progress when he struck for the first time in this campaign with two wickets in two balls.

Off-spinner Roston Chase took 5-172 in 44 overs as he again troubled England, having taken a Test-best 8-60 against them in Barbados last year during a victory that helped the West Indies regain the Wisden Trophy.

Sibley’s hundred was one of the slowest in Tests by an England batsman, the opener batting for 471 minutes — nearly eight hours — to complete a 312-ball century featuring a mere fours.

But the 24-year-old Warwickshire right-hander’s second hundred in his eight Tests, following his 133 not out against South Africa at Cape Town in January, was a valuable innings.

And he made normally reliable West Indies captain Jason Holder pay for dropping him in the slips on 68.

Run-scoring was difficult against a swinging ball and on a sluggish outfield, with even the usually fluent Stokes taking nearly six hours and 285 balls to complete his 10th Test century.

But Stokes’ third fifty came off just 46 balls and, having given Sibley a “head start” of 31.2 overs, he overtook his team-mate’s total.

England resumed on 207-3, with Sibley 86 not out and Stokes, their stand-in captain when Root missed last week’s four-wicket loss in the first Test at Southampton to attend the birth of his second child, unbeaten on 59.

West Indies made a wayward start on Friday, with Shannon Gabriel bowling several wide deliveries.

Stokes, 99 not out at lunch, went to three figures with a cheeky reverse-swept four off Chase.

Holder delayed taking the new ball until the 94th over, perhaps concerned it would make run-scoring easier for England.

As if proving that point, Stokes promptly clipped his rival all-rounder through midwicket for four.

The left-handed batsman upped the tempo still further with a remarkable check-drive six over midwicket off a respectable Alzarri Joseph delivery.

Having batted for over nine hours Sibley holed out to deep midwicket off Chase.

It was the end of England’s second-highest fourth-wicket partnership against the West Indies, behind the celebrated stand of 411 by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey at Edgbaston in 1957.

Stokes, dropped in the gully on 157 off Gabriel, then gave Roach something to celebrate at last.

In his 71st over of the series, the persevering paceman had Stokes, attempting an ambitious reverse sweep, caught behind to end a 356-ball innings featuring 17 fours and two sixes.

But with this match being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus, Stokes walked off to a ripple of applause from his team-mates rather than the roar of a crowd that greeted his match-winning Ashes hundred at Headingley last year.

England’s 395-6 became 395-7 when next ball Roach, whose last Test wicket before this series came when he dismissed India captain Virat Kohli in Kingston in September, removed Chris Woakes with the aid of a gully catch.

Jos Buttler made 40 and Dom Bess a useful 31 not out before Root declared.