North Sound – Rain brought an early close to the first Test in Antigua on Friday and offered West Indies a welcomed reprieve after Zak Crawley hit his seccond Test hundred and England captain Joe Root reached to within sight of his 24th to hand the visitors a 153-run lead.
Any chance of a Windies victory were erased after Crawley made an undefeated 117 and Root supported with an unbeaten 84 to take the English to 217 for one in their second innings when adverse weather brought an early close on the fourth day of the match at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground (VRCG).
Hamstrung by the benign VRCG pitch, which continued to play incredibly true, the Caribbean side failed to bowl with any discipline, and Crawley and Root batted with clear intent to put England in a much safer place than they were previously.
Long-standing pacer Kemar Roach made the only breakthrough for West Indies when he trapped Alex Lees lbw for six with a delivery angled into the left-handed opener from around the wicket.
West Indies were, however, unable to make further headway, and Crawley and Root pounced on loose bowling and helped the English to erase a first innings deficit of 64 before lunch.
The Windies saw the balance of power continue to shift away from them after lunch, and Crawley, strong through the leg-side, reached his hundred from 181 balls.
His previous hundred was 267 against Pakistan two years ago in Southampton, but he has scored scored only 330 runs in 21 subsequent innings before this knock.
Earlier, West Indies were all out for 375 in their first innings.
The Windies added only two runs to their overnight total before losing their final wicket when Jayden Seales was lbw to spinner Jack Leach for a duck to the third ball of the day.
England’s bowlers shared the spoils, with Ben Stokes, Craig Overton and Leach each taking two wickets.
The match is the first in a three-Test series in the Caribbean, where England have enjoyed only one series victory in the past half century.
ENGLAND 311 (Jonny Bairstow 140, Ben Foakes 42, Ben Stokes 36, Chris Woakes 28, Dan Lawerence 20, Joe Root 13; Jayden Seales 4-79, Jason Holder 2-24, Alzarri Joseph 2-70, Kemar Roach 2-6) and 217 for one (Zak Crawley 117 not out, Joe Root 84 not out).
WEST INDIES 375 (Nkrumah Bonner 123, Kraigg Brathwaite 55, Jason Holder 45, John Campbell 35, Joshua da Silva 32, Veerasammy Permaul 26 not out, Shamarh Brooks 18, Kemar Roach 15, Jermaine Blackwood 11; Ben Stokes 2-42, Craig Overton 2-85).