Stumps, Day 1
England 35/1 (17.4 Overs)
Cricket is not off to a fluent start. After rain washed off the first session, there was a loss of another hour with two intervals of rain. Depleted light resulted in an early Tea break. Persistent rain ensured no further play. Yet the 17.4 overs of play so far witnessed classic Test match contest.
Shouldering arms is a useful skill in Tests. But, as Dom Sibley found out, it is fatal if not well-judged. After Shannon Gabriel’s early breakthrough with a booming inswinger, rain breaks followed.
In the intermittent action, the West Indies pacers enjoyed bowling to Joe Denly more than the stubborn Rory Burns. Gabriel almost had him in a manner similar to Denly. Kemar Roach tested his outside edge. Jason Holder peppered him with back of a length peaches and Alzarri Joseph unleashed a 90-mile yorker before the break.
Denly cut loose against the tiring Gabriel. Cutting him with disdain in his third over and pulling to the left of mid-on in his fourth. With not much swing on offer, Holder opted for three slips and a gully. An absent fourth slip is where the thick outside edge from Denly went past a ball later.
Roach has an average of 14 against left-handers since 2018. This is the best among bowlers with a minimum of 30 overs in this period. He was the only bowler who tested Burns early on. He was the only one to bowl to him from around the wicket.
Others yielded to his patience either bowling onto his stumps or short outside off. The type of deliveries that do not perturb Burns.
Empty stands and players paying their gratitude to sir Everton Weekes were moving images themselves. But, the most iconic of them will be of everyone on the field taking the knee in support of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement.
As for the lesser important things, England will be happy to be just one wicket down amid constant breaks. West Indies will hope that the cloud cover does not evade until it is their turn to bat.
Finally, normality resumes. Not before we lost the entire first session. Captaining for the first time in professional cricket, Ben Stokes won the toss and opted to bat. He put aside thoughts of bowling first due to overcast conditions, citing slow nature of the wicket with turn later on.
As expected, England left out Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes. West Indies opted for four front-line pacers as Rahkeem Cornwall misses out.
England (Playing XI) - Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes (C), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (WK), Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, James Anderson.
West Indies (Playing XI) - John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (WK), Jason Holder (C), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.