Bridgetown: Kemar Roach spearheaded a devastating West Indies fast bowling effort to rout England for 77 in their first innings and put his team in a commanding position on the second day of the first Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday.
At stumps England had hit back in limiting the Caribbean side to 127 for six in their second turn at the crease. However, the hosts already have a formidable overall lead of 339 runs at the end of a day dominated by bowlers with 18 wickets falling. If that trend were to continue into day three then England are likely to struggle to avoid suffering defeat inside three days, the same fate they suffered when the two teams last met at this venue in the finale to the previous tour in 2015.
It will take tremendous resolve by Joe Root’s side to regain their composure at the crease after being swept aside so ruthlessly first time round. Replying to the home side’s first innings total of 289, highlighted by a top score of 81 from Shimron Hetmyer and James Anderson’s 27th five-wicket innings haul, the visitors were blown away in 30.2 overs of unrestrained aggression from all four members of a pace attack in which the shortest of the quartet, Roach, stood tallest. His haul of five for 17 from 11 overs recaptured his best form of earlier years before his career was threatened by a serious shoulder injury. Captain Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph snared two wickets apiece while Shannon Gabriel, the fastest of them all, had to be satisfied with the lone wicket of Sam Curran.
It was England’s preference for Curran as opening bowling partner to Anderson, ahead of the experienced Stuart Broad which was one of the main talking points on the opening day. Given Curran’s lack of success with the ball and the West Indies bowlers’ first innings domination it is likely to be a discussion intensified many times more by the end of day two. After Anderson and Ben Stokes had taken the final two West Indian wickets for the addition of 35 runs, England, from 30 for one at lunch, were rocked onto the back foot at the start of the afternoon session courtesy of Roach.