Match Analysis

England get rowdy in London Borough of Barbados

Visitors crash the party through dominant knocks from Joe Root and Dan Lawrence

Cameron Ponsonby
Joe Root deals with a short ball, West Indies vs England, 2nd Test, Kensington Oval, 1st day, Barbados, March 16, 2022

Joe Root deals with a short ball  •  Getty Images

As you get off the plane in Barbados and walk into arrivals, the first two posters you're greeted with are of Garry Sobers and Rihanna. Cricket and entertainment. Sounds good.
Today, with thousands of England fans in attendance, the two combined as Joe Root and Dan Lawrence's dominant 164-run stand off 269 balls took over proceedings, much to the joy of those in attendance at the Kensington Oval in the London Borough of Barbados.
"He'll be delighted to be not out overnight following another good hundred last week," Marcus Trescothick, England's batting coach, said of Root's unbeaten 119. "[For him] to do it all again he'll be delighted. It's a real pleasure to sit there and watch it unfold and see how he goes about it.
"To see him batting in the fashion he has, the mental discipline and approach he's putting into his batting to come back and start fresh every time... it's an honour to stand there and throw at him and then to sit back and watch him all day."
Trescothick was also glowing in his praise of Lawrence's performance, who scored a career-best 91 before being at caught cover off what was scheduled to be the penultimate ball of the day's play.
"Absolutely," Trescothick replied when asked whether England would be focusing on the positives from Lawrence's innings rather than the pain of narrowly missing out on a maiden Test match hundred. "You always take the positives. And then we try to understand what happened there? Did anything change? Those are the sort of questions we'll sit down and talk about."
But this was a party that West Indies allowed to happen. Root was caught behind off what seemed like an inside edge on 23, only for it not to be reviewed. He was dropped down the leg side by Josh Da Silva on 34. And on 87, he should've been run out by John Campbell. To make matters worse, Lawrence was also dropped on 72, as Alzarri Joseph let a head-high slip catch split his hands and run away to the boundary.
As a result, having shared an awkward drink or two with England in a turgid first session and shared a pleasant dinner with them in the second, in the third, West Indies allowed Root and Lawrence to invite themselves back to theirs for afters and watched on as the two raided the drinks cabinet and fridge in equal measure.
"Kraigg, you got anything I could eat? Starving."
The runs flowed on the pitch as quickly as the Banks lager and rum punch flowed off it. It was loud. Lawrence's leg-side flicks were loud. Root's pulls and reverse sweeps were loud. The England fans. Loud.
For the most part, this wasn't the stereotypical Barmy Army showing that consists solely of the continued dirge of just repeating "Barmy Army!" *dooph dooph* "Barmy Army!" *dooph dooph* - rather 8000 people spending their day with one foot in the land of Sobers and the other in the land of Rihanna, just as they were told to on arrival. It was a party.
Of course, as the day came to a close, "Sweet Caroline" got one more play than would otherwise be deemed socially acceptable and the dooph dooph chants made their return. The sun going down at the end of a day at the cricket is like the moment on most evenings out where the lights go up and reveal the mass of destruction, sweat and alcohol that the darkness had previously hidden. If anything, this way around is better.
The highlight of the day from an English perspective was the noise that greeted Root's century as the Greenidge and Haynes Stand morphed into the Kop. The open-air nature of cricket grounds means it is not often you get that visceral echo that is so synonymous with football grounds, but here you did.
"It was brilliant, wasn't it?" Trescothick said. "A real English contingent throughout the island at the moment and great support throughout. We're lucky that we get great support wherever we go and to see it here, it was pretty much a home game for us so it's really nice to have."
The Brits were abroad. And they were rowdy. Both off the pitch and on.

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