England v West Indies, 2nd npower Test, Chester-le-Street, 1st day May 14, 2009

Welcome to the north

Wicket of the day

After Chris Gayle's less-than-convincing defence of his views on Test cricket and his simmering disagreement with Andrew Strauss, it was the perfect script when the pair faced up to eachother during the first session. Gayle gave himself the ball ahead of Sulieman Benn, the frontline spinner, perhaps to make a point to his opposite number, but whatever his intentions the end result was perfect for him. The ball after being cut away for four Gayle removed the England captain with a gloved sweep down the leg side. Gayle allowed himself a broad smile and plenty of high-fives. For a moment Test cricket didn't look so bad, but that had changed again by the close.

Stat of the day

Ravi Bopara looks like he's been batting at No. 3 forever. Two innings into the season and all debate about the position is dead and buried. He became the fifth England batsman to notch three consecutive Test centuries and the first since his mentor, Graham Gooch, managed it against India in 1990. It marked a complete turnaround from the first stage of his Test career that was brought to an abrupt end when he made three consecutive ducks against Sri Lanka.

Drop of the day

West Indies didn't suffer the catching horrors that afflicted them at Lord's when they dropped six in a session, but they did miss a clear-cut chance to break the second-wicket stand. Bopara, on 51, glanced Lionel Baker down the leg side within catching distance of Denesh Ramdin. The wicketkeeper stuck out his left hand, but could only palm the ball away down to fine leg. By the time Baker beat Bopara's loose forward defensive push towards the end of the day Bopara had added a further 57 and carried England into a hugely strong position.

Mass exodus of the day

The West Indians are clearly not enjoying the chilly conditions too much and when the drinks break was called during the final session four of them beat a hasty retreat up the pavilion steps. It must have been a bit of a queue for the gents. Once they were back in the warmth of the changing room it was probably very tempting for them to stay put, but they duly returned to the pitch in time for the restart.

Silence of the day

It's hard to dig up definitive numbers to support this statement, but the opening-day crowd was believed to have been one of the poorest to attend an England home Test. It also meant it was one of the quietest morning sessions as those who had decided to fork out upwards of £30 huddled together against a chill easterly wind in the deceptively balmy sunshine. Boundaries were greeted with a ripple of appreciative support, but it was certainly not a rip-roaring atmosphere that sent shivers down the spine.

Futile effort of the day

Shortly after tea a small section of the small crowd tried to start the traditional late-afternoon Mexican wave. It barely got out of the starting blocks. The enthusiastic few rose from their seats with their arms in the air after the normal cry of "one, two, three" but the wave fizzled out with just a few spectators dotted around the next stand. Normally it's the straight-laced members that stop the momentum, but on this occasion there weren't even enough people to get it off the ground.

Andrew McGlashan is Assistant Editor of Cricinfo