The second day of the series involved a similar scenario to the first, with West Indies dominating the opening session but England ending with the advantage. The home side’s quicks had another excellent morning to restrict England to 399 but their reply was a stuttering affair as they stumbled to 155 for 4.
There was good bowling on display throughout the day, firstly by West Indies’ pace trio and then the collective five-man England unit led by James Anderson, who moved one wicket closer to breaking Ian Botham’s Test record. Successes were hard-earned, as they should be, and Chris Jordan’s brilliant low catch at slip brought Kraigg Brathwaite’s scalp to leave West Indies tottering on 99 for 4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, in a familiar role, and Jermaine Blackwood, who was given a life on 21 when Ben Stokes overstepped having taken the edge, battled to the close with West Indies still 244 behind.
England began the day with eyes on a total around 500 but instead ended up just short of 400. In all, going back to Ian Bell’s dismissal late on the first evening, England’s last six wickets fell for 58 and that included a stand of 38 by the final pair of Jordan and Anderson.
There was a period of five consecutive maidens, which highlighted West Indies’ early grip on proceedings. That stranglehold included the removal of both overnight batsmen, Stokes and James Tredwell, then Jos Buttler struggled through a 22-ball duck and Stuart Broad’s batting woes continued. The combination of Bell, Stokes and Joe Root contributed 305 of England’s runs; the rest 70.
Anderson, who had flayed 20 via five boundaries in his 100th Test, responded with an outstanding opening spell which included the scalp of Devon Smith, who was worked over before edging to Buttler. Jordan, without quite the same consistency of line or length in his first spell, provided the second breakthrough when Darren Bravo was late trying to withdraw his bat.
Brathwaite impressed in South Africa with his steel and determination, traits that were again on show as he withstood the early forays. Marlon Samuels, meanwhile, was more aggressive from the outset and was aided by four overthrows when he took a quick single to the off side and Anderson’s throw – a justifiable one as Samuels would have been short – was just wide of the stumps.
However, Samuels was removed by a smart piece of bowling by Broad shortly after tea when he rolled his fingers across the ball and found the outside edge. In finest Hannibal style, a plan had clearly come together, given the applause from the bowling coach Ottis Gibson on the balcony and Broad himself.
During this period, Tredwell was wheeling away through what would become a 12-over spell. His selection is viewed more as an indictment of English spin resources than recognition for Tredwell – and there is an element of truth to that argument – but he performed his role admirably, using his experience with subtle changes of pace. His reward was to remove the nuggety Brathwaite, who edged a ball on the back foot, but it was the grab at slip by Jordan, low to his right, which was the show-stopping moment.
Blackwood responded by putting his second ball, from Tredwell, over long-off and was a curious combination of defence and the occasional moment of outright aggression. Chanderpaul did what he has done forever and a day. However, although West Indies resisted well during the closing stages of the day – with a little help from Stokes’ errant front foot – the signs are that batting last will not be an easy task on this surface so much work remains to narrow the deficit.
To start with they will need a good morning session on the third day, and for that at least the omens are promising given the way the match has gone so far. Whatever Curtly Ambrose said during a passionate team talk shortly before play clearly had the desired effect on West Indies’ bowlers. Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor soon settled into their work before Jason Holder followed them with an exacting spell of 7-4-14-1. The frustration will be that the disciplines of line and length deserted them for two sessions on Monday.
Stokes angled one boundary down to third man before succumbing attempting a repeat which landed in the lap of a fine gully. The shot was neither one thing nor the other, which was a contrast to the conviction Stokes had shown for much of his innings. Tredwell’s stint as nightwatchman ended with a flat-footed drive that gave Bravo his third catch of the innings. Buttler was given nothing to free his arms against before he could resist no longer and edged a very full delivery.
Broad has spoken very honestly about the problems he has faced with the bat since returning to the side after knee surgery, a delayed reaction to the blow from Varun Aaron at Old Trafford which broke his nose. On this occasion it took Roach just three deliveries to entice him into driving a soft catch to point.
The most fluent batting of the morning came from the last-wicket pair as Jordan and Anderson managed to put bat to ball with decent impact. Jordan provided a reminder of his very solid technique while Anderson unfurled a couple of boundaries that revived the “Burnley Lara” tag. His fun came to end when he popped a catch to cover against Samuels and attention turned to his attempts to pass Botham’s England wicket-taking record.