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1st Test, North Sound, March 08 - 12, 2022, England tour of West Indies
311 & 349/6d
(T:286) 375 & 147/4

Match drawn

Player Of The Match
123 & 38*

Gutsy Jonny Bairstow century puts England back in the game

Batter shares fifty stands with Stokes, Foakes and Woakes to rebuild tourists' innings from dire start

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Jonny Bairstow celebrates his gutsy Test century  •  Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow celebrates his gutsy Test century  •  Getty Images

England 268 for 6 (Bairstow 109*) vs West Indies
Jonny Bairstow started his day as the glue holding England together and he ended it with an unbeaten century that put his side firmly back in the game against West Indies in Antigua.
If England's hierarchy were to make an appraisal of their so-called red-ball reset before lunch, the result would have been an epic fail. Any review will of course come much later - and rightly so - but, given the criticism of the selection decisions taken in the aftermath of a dire Ashes drubbing, they could have done with a fresher start. Instead, it was a case of the more things change, the more things stay the same early on.
Bairstow, whose retention was among their least contentious calls after he was England's only centurion of that fateful campaign in Australia and scorer of a hundred in the warm-up fixture for this match, came in with the tourists teetering on 48 for 4 inside the first hour and a half.
But he combined with fellow experienced hand Ben Stokes for a rebuilding partnership worth 67 for the fifth wicket and then put on 99 runs with old new kid Ben Foakes to raise England to a respectable score at stumps.
Foakes' recall as wicketkeeper-batter in place of Jos Buttler perhaps only raised eyebrows in that it had taken so long and after Andrew Strauss's edict as interim managing director that he "get a decent run of things" he could afford to feel as comfortable as he looked through much of his innings. Having been in and out of the Test side sporadically since 2018, Foakes was among those given an opportunity on this tour to cement his place in the long term.
He looked in fine touch from the off. He edged the second ball he faced through the slips for four but followed that with two more authoritative drives to the boundary in the same Kemar Roach over as he set out at better than a run-a-ball. Foakes struck five more fours before he was pinned back by a Jason Holder delivery that struck the knee roll in line with leg stump, his review turned down.
But the day belonged to Bairstow, who crafted a gritty and intelligent innings on a dry, slow pitch that offered little to either side. He faced 127 balls for a well-earned fifty, brought up with a four off Veerasammy Permaul as he continued to deploy the cut to great effect any time there was width on offer. But he upped the tempo after that, scoring his next 50 off just 63 balls, raising his hundred by sweeping Kraigg Brathwaite to the boundary and celebrating with an elated roar and punch of the air.
With the ball swinging in the morning session, Roach had bowled beautifully to claim two wickets, while Jayden Seales and Holder took one each - the latter without conceding a run from his five overs. Holder finally gave up a run, two in fact, off his 33rd ball to a Bairstow cut.
Having won the toss, England captain Joe Root opted to bat first. Debutant opener Alex Lees scored off the fifth ball he faced, threading Roach through backward point for four. He only survived another three balls though, before he was rapped on the front knee roll by a full, straight Roach delivery which narrowly evaded the bat and struck in line with middle and off and, despite a hopeful review, Lees was sent on his way with just those four runs to his name.
Zak Crawley had looked in decent form, driving Seales to the boundary twice in three balls. But then Joshua Da Silva took a stunner - diving low to his left as Crawley sent an inside edge off Seales that slipped past off stump into the keeper's outstretched glove - and all of a sudden, England were 17 for 2 with barely 20 minutes gone.
In ever-familiar territory with an innings resurrection riding on Root's shoulders - this time at No. 3 in England's revamped line-up - it was almost 23 for 3 when Root, on 9, slashed at a rising Roach delivery which then sailed through the fingers of Jermaine Blackwood at third slip. As the ball raced to the boundary, both sides were left to ponder the potential significance of the moment.
Roach ensured it was a moot point, probably to Blackwood's relief, as Root left the very next ball, a pinpoint in-ducker that clipped the top of off stump and England were, in fact, 27 for 3 and in a bad place.
Dan Lawrence was reprieved when Blackwood missed a tough chance off Roach in the cordon again. But Blackwood eventually clung on to dismiss Lawrence, who reached for a Holder outswinger and sent a thick outside edge to second slip.
Stokes and Bairstow ground through the second hour of the session, adding nine runs in 8.2 overs before lunch.
After the break, Holder failed to react at second slip as Stokes, on 22, toe-ended Joseph very clearly in his direction, and Seales saw an edge off Stokes drop just short of John Campbell at slip immediately before conceding back-to-back fours in an eventful 40th over. Seales produced the perfect riposte on the last ball, a fuller-length delivery that swung in late to defeat Stokes' attempted drive via an inside edge on to leg stump.
After Foakes' dismissal, Chris Woakes arrived to round out the 'Stokes, Foakes, Woakes' cult theme of the day and he shared an unbroken 54-run partnership with Bairstow, who ended the day 109 not out, to see England through without further loss.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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