Windies crumble on day one as debutant Atkinson snares 7-45 to put England in charge of opening Test

By July 10, 2024
West Indies batsman Kavem Hodge reacts after his dismissal. West Indies batsman Kavem Hodge reacts after his dismissal. (Photos: Alex Davidson/Getty Images/Skysports)

The chances of West Indies bettering England in their three-match Test series were always slim, and Wednesday’s opening day of the first encounter at Lord’s again justified why the host are overwhelmingly favoured.

No doubt the Caribbean side went into the contest confident that they can secure a Test series win in England for the first time since 1988, but their batting display was a far cry from a team hoping to achieve that feat.

They collapsed from 88-3 to 121 all out, as England’s attack, led by debutant Gus Atkinson, was quick, vicious and left West Indies in a tailspin with no response to the onslaught.

Debutant Mikyle Louis (27), Alick Athanaze (23), Kavem Hodge (24), Alzarri Joseph (17), and Gudakesh Motie, with an unbeaten 14, were the only scores in double figures. Atkinson bagged 7-45, the second best by an England bowler on Test debut behind Dominic Cork.

England in response were 189-3 at close, as they opened up a 68-run lead courtesy of half-centuries from Zak Crawley (76) and Ollie Pope (57). Joe Root, on 15, and Harry Brook, on 25, will resume batting on Thursday’s second day.

Scores: West Indies 121 all out (41.4 overs); England 189-3 (40 overs)

Gus Atkinson bask in the admiration of his teammates.

West Indies assistant coach Jimmy Adams narrowed their opening day performance to England’s quality bowling and inexperience batting from his team.

“I think it was fairly bowling friendly conditions, and added to that England exploited the conditions really well. They had quality swing and they didn’t give us much freedom, and maybe a little bit of experience on our part as well. So I think a combination of those issues,” Adams said in a post-day conference.

Despite their current position, Adams remains optimistic his men can get back into the contest, provided they apply themselves accordingly.

“All of England’s bowlers are world class, so we can try (to comeback), but it is going to be difficult. But this is what Test cricket is all about, you have a bad day, you think about it, roll your sleeves up and come back on day two and try and work your way back into the match. We have seven wickets to get first of all and then hopefully we can bat for a day or two and see where we go from there,” he added.

After losing their top order in the opening session with just 44 runs on the board, Hodge and Athanaze attempted to rebuild the West Indies inning from 61-3 at lunch, but having already inflicted the wound, Atkinson duly obliged and finished what he started.

Louis, the first player to represent West Indies from St Kitts and Nevis, showed promise in a 34-run opening stand with captain Kraigg Brathwaite. Both seemed set for a positive knock before Brathwaite (six) dragged a wide delivery from Atkinson onto the stumps, while Jamaican Kirk McKenzie lasted only 14 deliveries, as he too was sent back by Atkinson for a solitary run.

Mikyle Louis receives his cap from West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards.

Louis then followed, as he edged one from England’s captain Ben Stokes, which Harry Brook collected low down at third slip.

When Athanaze edged to Joe Root, it sparked a typical West Indies collapse, as Jason Holder and Joshua da Silva came and went without scoring, while Hodge served up a catch off Chris Woakes to Ollie Pope, who took it in dazzling fashion.

Alzarri Joseph attempted a counter as he slashed four boundaries in a nine-ball cameo, before he became Atkinson’s sixth victim, and Shamar Joseph (zero), the seamer’s seventh. Motie then contributed 14 runs to push the visitors past the 120-run mark, as James Anderson, playing in his final Test series, accounted for Jayden Seales.

England in their turn at bat, lost Ben Duckett (three), who knicked a Jayden Seales delivery to da Silva. However, Crawley, who rode his luck, and Pope quickly steadied things as both scored at a decent tempo, before the latter was trapped in front by Holder.

Crawley’s luck ran out soon after and he was removed by an inswinging yorker from Seales, as West Indies briefly harboured hopes of clawing their way back into the contest, but Root and Brook kept them at bay for the remainder of the day.

Seales has 2-31 so far.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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