LEEDS: England’s Ben Stokes made the most of being dropped twice to score a hundred that took the shine off an improved bowling display by the West Indies on the first day of the second Test at Headingley on Friday.
Stokes’s score of exactly 100 was the cornerstone of England’s modest 258 all out.
Yet a good day for the West Indies, 19 for one at stumps, could have been so much better.
Both Stokes and England captain Joe Root, who made 59 after winning the toss, were dropped in the slips in single figures.
Stokes was missed again on 98, with the three errors effectively costing the West Indies some 142 runs.
Recalled fast bowler Shannon Gabriel led the attack with four wickets for 51 runs in 17 overs and new-ball partner Kemar Roach took four for 71 in 19.5.
This was still an encouraging display by the West Indies given their utterly inept performance in the field during an innings and 209-run defeat inside three days in the inaugural day/night Test in Britain at Edgbaston last week that saw them go 1-0 down in this three-match series.
– ‘Brain fade’ –
“We might be a little disappointed with 260-odd,” Stokes told Sky Sports. “We won’t know if it’s a good score until the end of the West Indies innings.
“I had a brain fade on 98. It was one of those moments, where I thought ‘what am I doing?’.”
He added: “I was annoyed at myself for getting out too. Maybe I switched off a little bit so hopefully I can use that feeling of frustration when I next get into that position.”
– ‘Discipline’ –
Meanwhile Roach, the bowler who suffered the most from West Indies’ catching lapses, said: “We had a big meeting about discipline, we weren’t good enough in the first Test and we came out and were much better here.
“Stokes batted really well — it didn’t go our way with those catches. Today was not a good day at the office.”
Conditions in what was a standard red-ball clash looked set fair for batting when Root won the toss.
Yet England still slumped to 71 for four shortly after lunch.
Alastair Cook, who made 243 at Edgbaston, was out for 11 on Friday when England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer edged Gabriel low to Kyle Hope at third slip.
England have long had problems at two, three and five in Test cricket and all the batsmen in those positions — Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan — fell cheaply as they slumped to 71 for four shortly after lunch.
Indeed England would have been 44 for four if Kieran Powell had not dropped a routine slip catch off Gabriel when Root was on eight.
To make matters worse second slip Kraigg Brathwaite floored Stokes on nine off Roach.
Root, leading England on his Yorkshire home ground for the first time, equalled South Africa star AB de Villiers’s all-time record of fifties in 12 consecutive Tests when he swept recalled leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for four.
But there was no repeat of his Edgbaston century, with Root toe-ending a sweep off Bishoo to slip.
Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow could not staunch the flow of wickets, falling for two when West Indies captain Jason Holder held an excellent low slip catch off Gabriel.
Stokes and Moeen Ali (22) counter-attacked after tea in a brisk stand of 68.
But Stokes, two runs shy of a century, mistimed a drive off Roach only for Gabriel to drop a simple chance at mid-on.
Left-handed batsman Stokes took two off the next ball to complete his sixth hundred in 38 Tests and first against the West Indies in 122 balls with 17 fours.
But soon afterwards he was caught behind trying to pull off Gabriel.
The bowler and the often fiery Stokes appeared to exchange words before the batsman walked off.
England, despite wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich dropping a sitter, lost their last three wickets on 258.
That left West Indies with a tricky 12 overs to bat.
But they lost just one wicket, Powell edging James Anderson to first slip where Cook held his 150th Test catch.