England Lions v West Indians, Northampton, 1st day May 10, 2012

Lions quicks shine as West Indies labour


England Lions 40 for 1 trail West Indians 147 (Bravo 51, Brooks 3-23) by 107 runs

Given the start West Indies have had to their tour things could be said to be looking up. The full squad is finally available after Narsingh Deonarine arrived in the country and they managed the majority of a day's play for the first time. However, in reality, that time on the field did not allay any of the concerns about their batting heading into the Test series as they stumbled to 147 all out - albeit in tricky conditions.

Yet they are the sort of the conditions very likely to greet them at Lord's next week and their audition against the Lions attack was from convincing. Only Darren Bravo, with a determined and increasingly fluent 51, offered significant resistance after the top order was blown away and the tail folded without much fight. From England's point of view it was another display of the fine bowling resources on offer to them - Stuart Meaker was the best on show - but somehow the visitors need to find a way of putting 300 on the board. If they can do that their bowling attack is good enough to keep the contests even.

Given all the recent poor weather, the fact that play was only delayed by an hour was unexpected but it was no surprise that James Taylor, the Lions captain, inserted the visitors and neither that they struggled to combat the moving ball, although in mitigation it was their first extended period in the middle. An inexperienced top order was always going to be up against it, as they will be during the Test series.

Last week at Hove, where there were only 34 overs in three days, the West Indian top three did not flourish and it is a major weakness. On this occasion they were back in the pavilion with 16 on the board and when Shivnarine Chanderpaul departed cheaply even three figures appeared distant.

But they cannot be relying on Chanderpaul all the time and Bravo gave the English audience their first glimpse of his ability with an increasingly positive display, especially considering the conditions. He battled at the start of his stay, reaching 6 off 44 deliveries before three boundaries in four balls kick-started his innings shortly before lunch. He continued to drive well after the break, reaching fifty from 86 balls, before top-edging a pull off Meaker, who bowled with impressive pace and troubled the batsmen throughout.

Bravo had added 75 with Marlon Samuels, who was reacquainting himself with first-class cricket following a spell in the IPL, but two overs later Meaker added a further dent to the recovery when Samuels played slightly away from his body, although it was another good delivery. Meaker, who has taken 11 wickets in two Championship matches this season, soon added Shane Shillingford to his tally as the tall offspinner lost his off stump and gave Meaker three wickets in 15 balls.

The earlier success had gone to the hometown boy. Jack Brooks, wearing his trademark head band (although in England red and white rather than Northamptonshire maroon), had to bowl into the wind and produced a strong opening spell. Adrian Barath, who had twice edged over and through the cordon, was the first to fall when he fended off the back foot to third slip. Brooks' second came courtesy of a fine diving catch by Ian Bell at second slip to remove Kirk Edwards, who is captaining the tourists here after it was decided to rest Darren Sammy.

Between Brooks' successes Jade Dernbach also made his mark when he found the edge of Kieran Powell to give Jonny Bairstow a catch. Both Dernbach and Brooks were replaced after exacting six-over spells but the pressure was maintained by Meaker and Matt Coles. The former was particularly impressive, bowling with hostile pace and getting the ball to jag back at both Bravo and Chanderpaul.

However, it was Coles who bagged the key wicket of Chanderpaul although not with one of the many good deliveries. Instead, Chanderpaul tried to bail out of a half-hearted pull stroke and lobbed a catch to mid-on. It was a notable first Lions scalp for Coles but rare for Chanderpaul to offer such a gift.

Coles claimed his second when Denesh Ramdin drove to gully playing a loose drive without footwork when conditions demanded more circumspection and the equal share of the success continued with Brooks and Dernbach cleaning up the innings.

The signs were not promising for a West Indian fightback when Fidel Edwards began the Lions reply in horrid fashion with three consecutive no-balls, the last of which took Michael Carberry's inside edge into the stumps. Eventually, though, Edwards put his foot behind the line and trapped Joe Root lbw with one that scooted through low.

Carberry opened his scoring with a pulled six off Ravi Rampaul but lived a charmed life, edging short of third slip off Edwards and being dropped in the gully on 9, off Kemar Roach. Nick Compton looked more assured as the West Indian bowlers struggled to locate a consistently full length. They have not got long to find their range.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on May 12, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    @jmchilhinney - wasn't meaning to actually bag the scheduling, I understand that from an Ozzy perspective, an English summer is a bit of a misnomer! LOL! At the end of the day, England is the only country that has conditions like this that tests are constantly played in - although, NZ & our very own Hobart can sometimes match it! As for the Wombats - yep, I know what he is talking about, but there really hasn't been much other than IPL to read/comment on!

  • John on May 11, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    @AKS - Forgot about SJ but I see a fellow Somerset fan has answered that

  • John on May 11, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    @AKS286 on (May 10 2012, 21:09 PM GMT) SH and MH are way off the side. Tres retired from internationals due to his depression illness although he was the best county batsmen by far last season. Unfortunately he has had some ankle injuries which look like they might threaten the rest of his county career

  • John on May 11, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    @landsite on (May 10 2012, 19:57 PM GMT) Do you mean to tell me you are not an England fan? I thought such complimentary comments would indicate that you were

  • joel on May 11, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    The fact that even the "you-shall-not-pass!" Chanderpaul got out cheaply suggests that batting conditions are less than ideal. The only real predictive point to note from the West Indian batting performance is the battling half century from Bravo. He was noticeably hurt when he was out in his final innings against Australia, a look in his eyes that I recognised from another , similar, batsman. Lets hope he uses that pain to good effect next week.

  • Mark on May 11, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    landl47: totally agree. The side playing Tests in may always gets the short straw and it is always the weakest draw cards. Frankly, I wouldn't even put Meaker & Dernbach in my 3rd string England attack right now. In their case I think that the LIons game is more to do with checking them out with a view to ODIs later in the season. It's a tribute to the strength of the Surrey attack, but says more of how effective they are in "English conditions" than any great fear that batsmen may have for their life when facing them. What will be interesting will be to see how the West Indies attack fares: it's underrated, but has given good sides problems over the last year or so.

  • Martin on May 11, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (May 11 2012, 06:01 AM GMT) - agreed. There is something to worry about when the likes of @jonesy, @randy and the serried ranks of india followers aren't lining up to have a poke. Jealousy; Guess that's just the price England are paying for success. ..."nefarious intentions" - nice phrase! Have to remember that one :-)

  • John on May 11, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    There's no doubt that batting conditions are tough at the moment, as the raft of low scores in the CC demonstrate, but the fact that WI top three failed repeatedly in home conditions recently suggests that maybe they just aren't up to it at the moment. They may well improve with time but it's going to be a tough time for the team and for the fans. Is there anyone better to replace them with though? Whatever his flaws, it's hard to see Gayle not opening the batting for the Test side ASAP unless the incumbents turn things around very quickly. From the information available Bravo continues to impress, and Chanderpaul has to fail now and again so there's probably no need to be concerned about him just yet. The real test will be how the bowlers perform on day 2. Bowling fast in cold conditions is no fun but it should be much easier for them to adjust in these helpful conditions than for the batsmen so there will be cause for concern if the Lions put on a big score.

  • Dummy4 on May 11, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    @ Sean S. Jodhan, I was referring to the recent series against Australia... Sammy's average was much higher than Deonarine... In fact Deonarine's average was lower than a Guyana dollar...... Sammy is not the problem..... every time Sammy bats you guys want him make hundreds while Deonarine and co. are well accepted with their 20's and 30's.... then Sammy must get five wickets each time he bowls, but Bishoo can get zero and cost us a test match and then you ppl still boast he is the best spinner in the region..... well perhaps he is the best spinner when he is intoxicated... as for Chanders unlike you insular gives I will say proudly Chanders is a king!!!! But Sammy averaged over 50 in the one day series and you guys deliberately ignored that..... We shall continue to improve under Sammy

  • John on May 11, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    @Meety on (May 11 2012, 02:04 AM GMT), that may be why sensible, objective fans such as yourself are interested in this story: because this match is the closest thing to Test cricket going at the moment. You want to actually comment on the story but you know as well as I that the people the wombats are referring to have far more nefarious intentions.

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