Ben Stokes, England's first-innings centurion at Headingley, said the team knew their performance was "not one of our best days with the bat" after they were dismissed for 258. Having won the toss, England slipped to 37 for 3 and 71 for 4 against an improved West Indies before a half-century from Joe Root and Stokes' 100 from 124 balls took them to respectability.
Both players were dropped early on, with the tourists still proving fallible in the field despite an improved bowling display. Root went on to equal AB de Villiers' world record of 12 consecutive Tests with a fifty or better, while Stokes negotiated a watchful start before unfurling some trademark shots during the afternoon and evening, as England then claimed a late wicket before the close to ensure an even day.
"Their seam-bowling unit bowled a lot better than they did at Edgbaston," Stokes said. "They made it hard work for us. The conditions were more in the bowlers' favour today, there was always a bit of seam movement, and every now and then the ball swung. They managed to expose that today.
"We said as a team in the changing rooms that it's probably not one of our best days with the bat. But we never know if it's a good score until the West Indies innings has finished. It's 260 more than we had this morning, it's all up to how we respond tomorrow, how we bowl and hopefully we can create a few chances."
Stokes might have edged Kemar Roach behind on 9, though technology was inconclusive, and then survived a straightforward chance without having added to his score when Kraigg Brathwaite could not hold on at second slip. He was rarely fluent and could also have been dismissed on 98, when Shannon Gabriel dropped a sitter at mid-on, but went on to his sixth Test hundred from the very next ball.
"It's always nice to [capitalise on a drop]," he said. "I guess you get some luck every now and again and to do well you need some luck on your side. On another day, they hold it and you're walking off.
"I found it quite hard to start with, it took me a while to get off the mark and I thought I had to change my normal approach to when I'm first in. I walked down the wicket and went deep in my crease … I got a couple away and thought it was a tennis-bally slow wicket, so if I'm to play my attacking shots it's going to have to be at 100 percent rather than half-hearted."
Of the words he and Gabriel appeared to exchange after he was eventually caught behind a few balls later, he said: "It's not the first time. It's just part of the game, he was probably still annoyed at himself for dropping me on 98. There's nothing to it, he's got me out. It's international sport, we're all trying to do well so emotions can come out."
He also had high praise for Root, who might have been caught at slip on 8 but otherwise looked in excellent form in progressing to a landmark half-century in front of his home crowd before edging an attempted paddle sweep off Devendra Bishoo.
"He's a hell of a player, he has been for a long time now," Stokes said. "The captaincy hasn't affected his run-scoring ability whatsoever - if anything it's made him into a better player, if that was possible. There's guys around the world who are known as the best players in the world and we've got one of them, if not the best. The records that he's managed to break, the runs he's scoring, is showing why he is."