NORTH SOUND – West Indies faded after starting brightly and Jonny Bairstow hit an unbeaten hundred, his second in as many Tests, to rescue England in the first Test in Antigua.
Bairstow was unbeaten on 109 and he shared three successive stands to propel the English to 268 for six in their first innings at the close on the first day of the match at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
The Windies had the visitors on the ropes at 48 for four, but Bairstow led the recovery with his eighth Test hundred after England won the toss and decided to bat.
The Caribbean side met resistance as Bairstow shared 67 with Ben Stokes, 99 with Ben Foakes, and 54 – unbroken – with Chris Woakes to help England shrug off the all-too-familiar tale of woe at the top of the batting order.
Stokes supported with 36, Foakes made 42, and Woakes was not out on 24.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be on a few tours over here and it’s an amazing place to come,” he said.
“To score a century, in any Test match, but especially with the travelling fans who haven’t been able to come for a couple of years, we’re very fortunate to have them.”
A lively Kemar Roach, miserly Jason Holder, and promising young pacer Jayden Seales collected two wickets each for West Indies.
Roach gave the Windies an early breakthrough when he trapped debutant left-handed opener Alex Lees lbw for four before he claimed the prized wicket of Joe Root bowled for 13 when the England captain did not offer a shot to a ball that clipped off the bail.
In between, Seales, opening the attack with Roach, got Zac Crawley caught behind for eight from an inside edge, as England sunk to 27 for three in the first hour.
Holder struck in his third over in the second hour of play, after England reached 39 for three at the drinks break, when Dan Lawrence played defensively forward and edged him to second slip for 20.
Seales gave the Windies their only success after England continued from their lunchtime total of 57 for four.
West Indies had toiled for more than an hour after lunch when Seales bowled Stokes for 36 with a full-length delivery that ticked the inside edge of the talismanic England left-handed batsman.
But the hosts met further resistance when Foakes came to the crease and batted for a little over two hours either side of taking England to tea at 145 for five.
Holder crucially pinned Foakes lbw with the second ball of a late spell after the break, but West Indies will lament allowing England to wriggle free.
“It was hard work as the day went on,” Holder said.
But he certainly could not be accused of offering up any easy runs, conceding only 15 off 16 overs.
ENGLAND 268 for six (Jonny Bairstow 109 not out, Ben Foakes 42, Ben Stokes 36, Chris Woakes 24 not out, Dan Lawerence 20, Joe Root 13; Jason Holder 2-15, Jayden Seales 2-64, Kemar Roach 2-71) vs WEST INDIES.