england cricket West Indies firmly on top in first Test as...

West Indies firmly on top in first Test as brilliant Jason Holder takes six England wickets

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PERHAPS we now understand why Jason Holder is the No 1 ranked Test all-rounder in the world.

Holder enjoyed a day of almost non-stop glory and satisfaction by seizing six wickets and then watching his batsmen consolidate his team’s strong position.

Reuters

West Indies skipper Jason Holder had a brilliant day, taking six wickets, as England were all out for 204[/caption]

The Windies captain’s position at the pinnacle of the official ratings – ahead of Ben Stokes – might raise a quizzical eyebrow. But he is a fine cricketer and deserves his status.

Before the match, Holder said that “maybe I don’t get as much credit as I deserve” and he’s right because credit should be lavished daily on his 6ft 6ins frame.

Not just for his skills with bat and ball but for the calm, dignified way he leads his team and brings together the diverse threads of the Caribbean nations. He is a seriously impressive man.

Holder’s six wickets all came in a row and included stand-in skipper Stokes, caught behind for 43, which turned out to be England’s top score. Yes, that’s right, no batsman reached fifty.

And to think Holder bowled only five overs in the Windies’ two warm-up matches because of an ankle problem.

West Indies finished day two of the First Test with 57-1, which is just 147 behind England. The game should be farther advanced but the umpires kept halting play for bad light even though it was far from gloomy.

AP:Associated Press

Holder took six wickets in a row in the game[/caption]

What nonsense. What a rubbish look. Maybe it was good 15,000 spectators hadn’t coughed up cash to get in because they would have felt short-changed.

The Stokes v Holder contest will go a long way towards deciding this series and there’s no doubt Big Jase is ahead right now.

Holder said: “Stokesy was a big wicket to get. He was looking set and we’d put down two chances. It was important to break his partnership with Jos Buttler and stop them hurting us.

“I’ve done a good job so far but my Test match is far from over. I still have a massive contribution to make with the bat.”

With Shannon Gabriel snaring the other four scalps, England really struggled in what were admittedly tough batting conditions with cloud cover and the lights on for most of the time.

And, with Joe Denly and Zak Crawley both failing, we are no nearer a verdict on who should stay and who should go when Joe Root returns next week.

AP:Associated Press

Joe Denly was bowled through the gate[/caption]

Denly was soon bowled through the gate by Gabriel – a recurring problem for the Kent batsman – and Rory Burns and Crawley were both lbw after Holder called for a review.

One of the quirks of the day was that Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth – two of the game’s leading umpires – had five decisions overturned by DRS.

Even more bizarrely, all five were initially given in England’s favour. Normally, there would be neutral umpires but travel restrictions mean the officials are home-based.

Ollie Pope nicked off for 12 and then Stokes was dropped on 14 on the run at fine leg by Kemar Roach and then, on 32, he survived a dolly chance to Shamarh Brooks at cover.

But Stokes was unable to make the Windies pay as, attempting to work Holder towards mid-wicket, he edged a catch behind.

AP:Associated Press

Bad light had a say on the game for a second day[/caption]

Buttler played fluently enough for 35 before falling to a fabulous diving catch with his right mitt by Shane Dowrich.

Jofra Archer was lbw and Mark Wood sharply held in the gully by Shai Hope. Dom Bess and Jimmy Anderson put on 30 useful runs for the last wicket but England’s total of 204 was desperately disappointing.

John Campbell was given out lbw to Anderson twice by umpire Illingworth, both times reprieved by DRS. Eventually, however, Illingworth got one right and Campbell departed for 28.

Wood reached 94.5mph in his first over but Kraigg Brathwaite and Hope could not be separated.

Reuters

England are firmly chasing the Windies in this Test[/caption]


Wood said: “I think West Indies are on top. They bowled really well and showed us the way to go.

“We have plenty to put right in the morning. Holder bowled very well, he tested the technique of our batsmen and was consistent.

“I thought the atmosphere here was going to be a lot weirder.

“The warm-up game felt strange but, with more riding on this, you feel nervous, excited and under pressure in the battle. That’s the same as normal.”

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