West Indies A v England A, 1st Test, Antigua, 1st day February 25, 2006

Solanki and Read steady England

Cricinfo staff

England A 304 for 8 (Solanki 86, Read 78, Kelly 4-58) v West Indies A

Vikram Solanki and Chris Read bailed England out of trouble on the opening day of their four-day match against West Indies at St John's. The pair added 121 for the sixth wicket after England had been wobbling at 127 for 5 midway through the afternoon.

Solanki's 86 was a continuation of his impressive form from the warm-up match, where he struck 114 in the second innings, and was a further riposte to the England selectors for leaving him out of the one-day squad for the India tour. His stand with Read helped to repair the damage done by Dave Mohammed, the left-arm chinaman bowler, who had taken three quick wickets in the middle order.

Read's 78 came on the ground where his Test career was brought to an abrupt halt two years ago. After being part of the England team that had taken a 3-0 lead in the Test series he was jettisoned when Geraint Jones was handed his debut. Read has not come close to regaining his spot, and has now been overtaken by Matt Prior as well, but a strong performance on this tour will keep him in the selector's thoughts

Richard Kelly struck back for West Indies during the final session, removing Solanki and Read, plus Kabir Ali who had come into the match as a replacement for Alastair Cook, following his call-up to the full squad in India. Cook's final action in this match was to be caught behind off Tino Best early in the day. James Anderson, also called-up to India, didn't have a chance to take the field before being replaced by Rikki Clarke.