England stay in command despite collapse
West Indies 208 for 4 (Gayle 66, Smith 45, Giles 3-58) trail England 568 (Key 221, Strauss 137, Vaughan 103, Collins 4-113) by 360 runs
England ended a fluctuating second day of the opening Test at Lord's in charge, leading by 360 runs with West Indies four wickets down, but it wasn't all plain sailing for them. After Robert Key reached his double-hundred, and Michael Vaughan returned to form with a century, West Indies, led by Pedro Collins, roared back by taking seven wickets for only 41 runs as England were all out for 568. Chris Gayle then made a whirlwind start to the reply, but Ashley Giles took three big wickets - including that of Brian Lara - to put his side back on top.
England started the day with all the aces, and Key and Vaughan continued to win all the tricks, but West Indies finally found a trump card in Collins's slingy awayswingers which put the dagger in England's lower-order resistance. But Giles made sure England stayed top of the pile with the scalps of Devon Smith, Gayle and Lara before the close.
Both Key and Vaughan were positive from the off, stroking boundaries square of the wicket against some wide bowling from Collins and Tino Best. The hundred stand between the two came up, typically for West Indies, with a no-ball, and Vaughan then brought up his half-century by whipping Collins on the legside for two.
Key continued to bat in complete control. He glided Best through the covers off the back foot as he approached his double-hundred, and then rocked back to punch Collins through the leg side to go to 198. The following ball, he flicked a straight delivery past square leg for his 29th boundary - and his 200.
However, just as minds entertained the idea of Lara's world-record 400 not out becoming under threat, it was Dwayne Bravo who finally unlocked Key's innings when he slashed a wide ball to Lara himself at backward point (485 for 3). Key strolled off to a standing ovation, and earned a handshake from his captain for his 221 - the fifth best score by an Englishman against West Indies.
Vaughan smeared Fidel Edwards past cover as England roared past 500, and he then stepped up a gear, thumping Edwards over midwicket and then caressing him past mid-on. However, the wickets of Graham Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff shortly before the lunch break started England's collapse. Thorpe chased a wide one from Bravo and nicked it behind to Ridley Jacobs (527 for 4). Then, in the last over before lunch, Flintoff inside-edged a wide one from Omari Banks having hit him for six the ball before (534 for 5).
Then Collins took centre stage after lunch with four quick wickets. Bowling at a fuller length, he induced edges to the keeper and slips, who, this time, managed to hold on to their chances. First to go was Geraint Jones, who snicked one which was angled across him to Jacobs for 4 (541 for 6). Giles then edged a full ball, which this time Smith, at second slip, held onto low to his right (551 for 7).
Meanwhile, as the wickets tumbled around him, Vaughan kept his cool to reach a welcome century. He cover-drove Collins to go to 97, and later flicked Banks behind fine leg to bring up his 12th Test century. However, shortly after, Collins continued the West Indian fightback when he induced another caught behind. Vaughan was forced to play at a perfect awayswinger, and Smith took his second catch in the slips as Vaughan departed for 103 (557 for 8).
Simon Jones was undone by an inswinging yorker from Collins which trapped him on his back foot in front of middle and leg stump (563 for 9), and then Bravo cleaned up Steve Harmison to complete an impressive comeback from the West Indians with the ball.
They then faced an hour in bat before the tea break, and England were boosted with the news that Flintoff would be able to bowl after a cortisone injection to his foot. However, on a good batting track, West Indies initially had no problems. Gayle hammered the wayward Harmison for four fours on the legside in one over, and then whipped Matthew Hoggard through midwicket for his fifth boundary as he raced to his half-century from only 44 balls.
The runs continued to flow from Smith's bat as well. Jones's first ball was flicked to the square-leg rope by Smith, which brought up the team's 50. He then square-drove Giles for four, and guided Jones to the fine-leg fence again to give Vaughan plenty to ponder.
However, Giles shifted the momentum back England's way in the evening session with three wickets. Smith played back to one which kept a fraction low and spun sharply to hit his off stump (118 for 1). Giles then struck in his next over when Gayle was given out lbw by Daryl Harper sweeping against a turning ball, even though replays showed it hit him outside the line of off stump (119 for 2).
Ramnaresh Sarwan survived a huge appeal for lbw on nought off Hoggard, but he wasn't so lucky two overs later when Rudi Koertzen sent him on his way. Hoggard was again the bowler, and Sarwan shuffled across his stumps and was struck on the pad in front of middle stump (127 for 3).
That smattering of wickets put the pressure on Lara, but before he got the chance to get going he was adjudged caught behind by Harper for 11. The ball pitched on a length, turned away a touch and brushed his front pad through to Jones, who, along with the fielders, appealed for the catch. Harper thought it had flicked the bat, and sent a visibly disappointed Lara packing (139 for 4).
Bravo hit his first ball in Test cricket for four, gliding Giles past midwicket, and he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on a resisting and unbroken stand of 69 with few scares. Chanderpaul was his usual stubborn self, as well flicking six fours, while Bravo became increasingly assured to end at 30 not out. However, a lot rests on their shoulders tomorrow if West Indies are going to get back in the game.