by STAFF WRITER
March 1, 2022
** Changes lead to read “including the prized scalp of flamboyant all-rounder Ben Stokes”
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 1, CMC – Off-spinner Bryan Charles impressed with a three-wicket haul, including the prized scalp of flamboyant all-rounder Ben Stokes, but England flourished on a batting-friendly strip on the opening day of the four-day tour match here Tuesday.
Opting to bat first, the tourists ended on 251 for four at Coolidge Cricket Ground, buttressed by half-centuries from openers Alex Lees (65) and Zak Crawley (62), and captain and master batsman Joe Root who made 54.
Dan Lawrence was unbeaten at the close on 46 but the left-handed Stokes fell cheaply, prised out by the impressive Charles who ended with three for 88 from 30 overs.
Confronted with excellent conditions in which to bat, England made the most of the opportunity as Lees and Crawley put on 88 for the first wicket to ensure the hosts went wicket-less in the first session.
Lees, a left-hander with 127 first-class matches but no internationals to his name, struck half-dozen fours and a six in a painstaking knock which consumed 214 deliveries in just under five hours.
Crawley, meanwhile, a survivor from the ruins of the recent Ashes, faced 106 balls in just over 2-¼ hours and punched 11 fours in a fluent knock that saw him unbeaten on 52 at lunch with England on 65 without loss.
Charles accounted for both openers, first claiming Crawley in the seventh over after the resumption bowled through the gate, and then removing Lees in the final session, bowled around his legs after missing a sweep.
However, Lees’ dismissal came only after he combined with Root to post 98 for the second wicket – a partnership which guided England to tea on 153 for one.
Root, who faced 105 balls in a shade over 2-¼ hours and counted five fours, fell 19 balls before Lee, spectacularly yorked by fast bowler Sherman Lewis.
Despite adding 40 for the fourth wicket with Lawrence, the left-handed Stokes never really settled in just under three-quarters of an hour at the crease, and eventually nicked a booming drive at the 30th ball he faced, to be caught by Alick Athanaze going to his right at slip.