RESULT
Tour Match, Coolidge, March 01 - 04, 2022, England tour of West Indies
466/6d & 164/4d
(T:367) 264 & 123/7

Match drawn

Report

Warne shock overshadows final day as Wood and Stokes boost England Test hopes

Batters in good place after promising four days in Antigua, as off-field matters overshadow

Cameron Ponsonby
04-Mar-2022
England players and staff observe a moment's silence in memory of Shane Warne during day four of the tour match  •  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England players and staff observe a moment's silence in memory of Shane Warne during day four of the tour match  •  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England XI 466 for 6 (Bairstow 106*, Lawrence 83, Lees 65, Crawley 62, Root 54) and 164 for 4 dec (Lawrence 48, Foakes 43*) drew with CWI President's XI 264 (Reifer 106, Leach 4-62) and 123 for 7
The image that summed up a confused and subdued day at Coolidge Cricket Ground was the sight of injury doubt Mark Wood warming up to bowl at lunchtime as captain Joe Root spoke to the media about Shane Warne's unexpected death on the boundary's edge.
Things that matter and, you know, things that actually matter.
"We're just really shocked and sad to hear that such a legend of the game has passed so suddenly," Root said.
"We had just started the game and it sort of filtered through the dressing room. It's been quite a quiet dressing room off the back of it, it's hit everyone quite hard if I'm being brutally honest."
The news dramatically overshadowed the start of the day's play as an already diminishing contest finally broke from its illusion of being a competitive fixture and was replaced by the reality of a practice session.
Resuming on 77 for 3, England batted a further 17 overs and cantered along at almost a run a ball with Dan Lawrence slashing his way to 48 off 42. When Lawrence's fun came to an end, it was Craig Overton batting at No.6 who replaced him in the middle. It was a day to make sure that everyone got a go.
England will be pleased, therefore, that Ben Foakes gained some time in the middle as he scored 43 not out. It means that, of England's top eight, only Ben Stokes hasn't spent any substantial time batting going into the first Test, with five of the likely starting XI having passed 50 in the match and both Foakes and Chris Woakes registering unbeaten 40s.
As England declared on 164 for 4 and set the President's XI a notional 366 to win, eyes turned to whether Wood and Stokes would be able to bowl.
Speaking at the close of play yesterday, interim head coach Paul Collingwood said that Stokes had done "everything possible" to be fit to bowl in Tuesday's first Test and that there was a chance he could "play a small part" with the ball next week in Antigua. A marked improvement from earlier in the match, where word had been that any bowling Stokes would do in this game would be solely focused on preparing for the second Test.
The temptation for England to bowl Stokes next week will have only increased after his showing here as he claimed a wicket with his very first ball before clean bowling Shane Dowrich in his following over. Stokes with the ball is currently the late-night kebab of England's selection dilemmas as they seek to balance short-term reward with the risk of long-term damage.
Having undertaken precautionary blood tests yesterday, it was announced at the start of the day's play that Wood would be fit to take the field and he too impressed with the ball as he managed nine overs across the day, all of which were of good pace as he was able to extract life from a surface that was the very epitome of "docile". Whether England will deem it sufficient preparation for Wood to be included in the XI for the first Test, however, is another question altogether.
Amidst the breaking of bad news and managed bowling loads, a game of sorts did reach a conclusion as the President's XI batted out the remainder of the day to finish 123 for 7 with Overton the other contributor of note with the ball, finishing with 2 for 12 from his eight overs.
In all it has been a useful exercise for England. Batters have batted and bowlers have bowled against a more than competent opposition. And while the pitch being as docile (ibid) as it was was without doubt a considerable downside, overall it was a positive start to Operation Red-Ball Reset.

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby