Jason Holder led by example with the ball as West Indies seized control of the first Test against England in Southampton.

West Indies captain Jason Holder has hailed the outstanding efforts of returning pace bowler Shannon Gabriel, who formed the perfect partner in excoriating the England batting line-up, in the first Test at the Rose Bowl, on Thursday.

Holder claimed an impressive 6 for 42 and Gabriel 4 for 62, as England were dismissed for 204, in the first innings.  Gabriel’s performance is all the more impressive with the series being the player’s first competitive match since recovering from ankle surgery last year.

In truth, concerns regarding Gabriel’s overall match fitness had quickly evaporated when he removed England opener Dom Sibley and provided plenty of deliveries that teased the edge of the batsmen in the first session.  He went on to account for, Rory Burns, Sibley's opening partner, Joe Denly, and James Anderson at the bottom of the order.

“Shannon was outstanding.  He came in after not playing cricket for a while, coming back off injury.  He is one of those players we try to manage as best as we possibly can,” Holder said following the end of the day’s play.

“He is a strike force for us, he is a weapon.  I think we were able to use him in short bursts where he can run in and express himself.  To me his consistency was good, and he looked good.”

In reply, the West Indies were 57 for 1 at the end of play, with John Campbell the batsman dismissed, on 28, by Anderson.

 

West Indies captain Jason Holder took a career-best 6-42 as England was bowled out for 204 on the second overcast day of the first test at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

Shannon Gabriel nabbed the first three wickets, Holder the next six including England counterpart Ben Stokes for a team-best 43, and Gabriel grabbed the last wicket to finish with 4-62.

England, at 174-9, didn’t look like reaching 200 but Dom Bess hit 31 not out and shared 30 with fast bowler James Anderson, the last man out.

An early tea was taken with England set to repay the West Indies' batting lineup in ideal bowling conditions.

Gabriel and Holder reduced England to 106-5 at lunch.

But the break enlivened Stokes and Jos Buttler, who came out punchy and riding some luck.

Stokes, dropped on 14 by Kemar Roach on the run, was dropped again on 32 off Roach to a simpler chance by Shamarh Brooks at extra cover.

Stokes and Buttler combined for 67 and 13 boundaries in the empty arena until Holder drew Stokes forward on 43 and earned an edge behind.

Buttler, on 35, was out to another seaming ball by Holder and a low, one-handed catch behind by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.

When Jofra Archer was out for a duck after a West Indies review showed his front pad blocked his leg stump, Holder had his fifth wicket and taken 3-1 in 14 balls.

The five-wicket haul was Holder’s seventh, and sixth in his last 10 tests.

Mark Wood on 5 slashed at Holder straight to Shai Hope at gully, and Holder would finish the innings with career-best figures of 20-6-42-6.

Bess and Anderson gave England a little lift to get past 200, but Anderson lost his off stump trying to defend Gabriel, who removed opener Rory Burns (30) and Joe Denly (18) in the morning.

Australia coach Justin Langer believes his team must tour England if it is possible in 2020, as international cricket aims to get back on track after the impact of coronavirus.

After a four-month break, Test cricket resumed on Wednesday with a rain-hit first day of England's behind-closed-doors match against West Indies in Southampton.

Australia were due to tour England for a white-ball series starting on July 3, with new dates for the rescheduled trip yet to be confirmed.

With the Twenty20 World Cup still due to be played in Australia in October, Langer believes the tour of England also has to be a priority.

"I think we have to go to England. There's lots of challenges, of course, but we have to find solutions to make sure that can happen if possible," Langer told reporters.

"That's my view. I think for the health of world cricket.

"If things out of control happen and we can't end up going, at least we can say we've done everything in our power to make it happen."

Langer also claimed Cricket Australia (CA) should be willing to let its star names – such as Steve Smith – play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with preparation for the T20 World Cup vital.

"I think we have to, talking frankly," said Langer, who would even let players leave if it meant them missing part of the domestic season in Australia.

"I'll always look for win-win situations and hopefully we do that when we get some clarity on what's happening with the schedule."

India will tour Australia later in 2020, with a four-Test series scheduled.

The last time West Indies won a series in England was in 1988.

A 36-year-old Viv Richards was the captain, Curtly Ambrose had only played three Tests, Ian Bishop hadn’t made his debut, Brian Lara wasn’t yet in the Windies set-up and I wasn’t born.

Thankfully, with advances in technology whether it be Google or a trek through the archives of YouTube, there is enough information, that once willing to read and watch, one can get a great understanding, if not the complete picture of some of the great moments savoured before our time.

1988 started in uncertain fashion for the West Indies after they had to fight to stave off Pakistan in a home series they managed to draw, winning the third and final Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados by two wickets.

Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Larry Gomes, three members of the squad which had dominated the world for close to 10 years had retired just over a year earlier.

Other key players Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Jeffrey Dujon had all passed age 30.

Heading into the England series, the late great Malcolm Marshall was the most experienced bowler with 53 matches and that was more than the other pacemen combined.

In fact, that was one of the biggest concerns for the West Indies going into the series as Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Patrick Patterson, Winston Benjamin and Ian Bishop had combined for just 38 matches.

Thankfully, for the Caribbean side, the tour lasted approximately three months and along the way they played 16 first-class matches, eight of which were warm-up games.

They lost all games in the 3-match One Day International series at the beginning of the campaign but as time went on and conditions became more familiar, they improved, drew the first Test and then sped away with the series 4-nil as their unbeaten series run approached a decade.

Malcolm Marshall was simply outstanding in that series, his best ever in terms of wickets taken (35), average (12.66), strike rate (34.83), economy rate (2.18) and career-best figures of 7 for 22.

The Barbadian was also well backed up by his “inexperienced” pace bowling support cast.

Ambrose snared 22 scalps at 20.22 while Walsh and Benjamin each took 12 wickets

Graham Dilley (15) was the only England bowler among the top five wicket-takers for the series.

While Graham Gooch topped the batting chart with 459 runs, 7 of the top ten run-scorers came from the West Indies.

Overall it was a disastrous summer for the home team who used 4 captains in the five Tests.

It was a microcosm of a dreadful period leading up to that summer where England won just seven of their last 52 matches.

Most importantly for the West Indies though is that they gave the cricketing public a fierce reminder of why they were the world’s number one team and that their days of producing world-dominating fast bowlers were far from over.

It took another seven years before West Indies lost a Test series, beaten 2-1 at home by Australia in 1995.

Unfortunately, though, it has taken them far longer to feel the glory of triumphing in England.

In 1988, a helmetless 25-year-old Phil Simmons was hit on the head by a delivery from Gloucestershire bowler David Lawrence in fading light at Bristol.

He underwent emergency surgery at hospital and while he played no further role on that tour he did make a full and often considered miraculous recovery.

32 years later, Simmons has the chance to lead West Indies from the coaching bench.

If he is successful in leading them to victory, it will hardly be considered miraculous, especially since the Windies are the current holders of the Wisden trophy but surely, against the odds, it would be among his and all his players’ greatest ever achievements.

Members of the West Indies squad knelt and held clenched fists as they showed full support for the fight against racism, inequality and injustice.

Before Wednesday’s start to the #RaiseTheBat series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, both West Indies and England teams announced they would wear the Black Lives Matter logo on the collars of their playing shirts.

They further demonstrated support by kneeling on the field and on the boundary.

All members of the West Indies squad also wore black gloves. In addition, a flag was flown over the team’s balcony with the composite logos of Cricket West Indies and Black Lives Matter on the traditional maroon background.

Speaking ahead of the series, West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons said:

PULLQuote: “It means a hell of a lot to all the players and all the staff on the tour. But it's not just about now, it's about life on the whole.”

The Black Lives Matter emblem was designed by Alisha Hosannah, the partner of Troy Deeney, captain of English Premier League side Watford. 

He was contacted by CWI and permission was granted for the logo to be displayed on the collar according to ICC regulations.

The logo has a clenched fist in place of the letter “A” in the word “Black”. It has also been used on the shirts of all 20 Premier League clubs since football returned behind closed doors following the break for COVID-19.

Stuart Broad will miss his first home England Test since 2012 after being left out against West Indies at the Rose Bowl.

The return of international cricket, put on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, was further delayed by rain in Southampton on Wednesday.

However, conditions eventually allowed for the two captains - Ben Stokes and Jason Holder - to emerge for the coin toss, which England won with Stokes electing to bat.

Stand-in captain Stokes, taking the place of Joe Root - missing the match to attend the birth of his second child - confirmed the omission of seam bowler Broad for the first of three behind-closed-doors Tests.

All-rounder Chris Woakes was also left out, with England opting for the pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood alongside the swing of James Anderson.

"Very, very tough decision with [leaving out] Broad and Woakes but we feel with Woody and Jofra's pace it adds another dimension," Broad said. 

"There was a lot of disappointment around but they took it like champions."

Holder, meanwhile, elected to go with four pace bowlers, with Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel joining the all-rounder in the attack.

Rahkeem Cornwall missed out, Holder picking Roston Chase as his spin option.

The start of play was rescheduled for 2:00pm (local time).

 

Azhar Ali sounded a note of cautious optimism over Pakistan's preparations for the Test series in England.

Pakistan face the hosts in a three-match series starting at Old Trafford next month, with captain Azhar's side training in Worcester.

They staged an intra-squad friendly across Sunday and Monday and, after a three-month coronavirus-enforced break, Azhar was pleased by what he saw.

"Both batsmen and bowlers have adapted to the conditions," he told the Pakistan Cricket Board website.

"The wind was troubling the bowlers initially but they overcame it, which was heartening. Definitely, the players are going to need some time to adjust.

"Despite the break, they are in good shape, which is a positive sign for us.

"All the batsmen batted quite well, especially Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq and Abid Ali seemed in total control, Shan Masood adapted well to the conditions and Mohammad Rizwan looked in good shape.

"Mohammad Abbas is our experienced bowler and his presence is of advantage for us as he also keeps guiding the youngsters.

"He is someone who can be a very important member of the attack for us. Naseem Shah bowled very well in the scenario-based match. He will attain more control as he continues to bowl."

Pakistan's initial squad had to be altered after several players tested positive for coronavirus, but no cases of COVID-19 have been found within the touring party.

On the eve of the West Indies historic bio-secure Test series against England, I thought it interesting to take a look back at the last time the Caribbean outfit had any good days in England.

 West Indies captain Jason Holder believes too much attention has been spent focusing on the possible deficiency of the team’s top order and backed the rest of the batting unit to pick-up the runs-scoring slack if needed.

Ahead of the start of the West Indies England tour, doubts have repeatedly been raised of not just the team’s top order, but the overall unit as well, as they prepare to stand up to an experienced English bowling line-up. Since a 2-1 defeat to England, on their last tour in 2017, West Indies have a batting average of 23.59 across 19 Tests.  Nor can the team take comfort in some of the showings during the recent intra-squad matches, which served as preparation for the series.  In the final warm-up, a top-five of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase found themselves reduced to 9 for 3 and 49 for 5.

“The runs don’t have to only come from the top order.  I think we are putting a lot of emphasis on the top order.  Yes, they probably haven’t lived up to the expectations but in general, it’s a team sport and we just have to put runs on the board,” Holder told members of the media during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“Personally, I don’t care, it’s just for us to put runs on the board and give our bowlers something to work with.”  

West Indies captain Jason Holder has listed England as heavy favourites under their home conditions but has backed the regional team to be highly competitive in the upcoming series.

The teams will be the first to return to international cricket amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when the series bowls off at 5:00 am (6:00 am ECT) on Wednesday morning.  This time around the battle for the Wisden Trophy will take place in unusual circumstances, as it will be played in a bio-secure environment completely free of fans and fast bowlers will not be allowed to put saliva on the ball to encourage reverse swing.

The unique conditions under which the series will take place aside, Holder believes one thing will remain the same, the England team has a formidable record on home soil.  They have not lost a Test in England since being shocked by Sri Lanka in 2014.  The West Indies will have to look much further back than that for success having not won in England since 1988.

“England are probably favourites, in their home conditions they are very, very strong.  They are a very strong side in their home conditions, and it is proven,” Holder told members of the media during a Zoom conference call on Tuesday.

“They have a really good track record at home.  So, we got our work cut out for us if we want to beat them.  England are not going to roll over and die they are going to come at us very, very hard,” he added.

“Those guys want to win just as badly as we do, so I’m expecting a keen contest and it’s a matter for us to dethrone England in their backyard, which is not going to be an easy task.”

The West Indies are the current holders of the Wisden Trophy after defeating the England team 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.  It was the Englishmen who won 2-1 when the teams last met, in England, in 2017.

 

 Former England quick, Devon Malcolm, recently recalled the result of reports he had the found the formula for legendary Windies batsman Viv Richards making their way to the ears of the batsman, during England's 1990 tour of the Caribbean. 

The Jamaica-born pace-bowler created shockwaves, at Sabina Park, after effecting the run-out of Gordon Greenidge and dismissing Richards twice in a crushing 9-wicket win for England, at the start of the series. 

The then 27-year-old bowler figured, he might be on to something, first dismissing the iconic batsman lbw and then having him clean bowled in the second innings.  A confident answer at a post match press conference had seen the young bowler dubbed 'the chemist' in the following day's reports.  With the second Test abandoned, Malcolm continued his good form in the third Test after claiming six wickets in a drawn match, which Richards missed.  But then, Richards returned for the fourth Test.

“When Vivy walked out on that field, I knew Vivy meant business,” Malcolm recalled on the Mason and Guest radio show recently.

“The very first ball I bowled to Viv Richards he put me out the park for six.  The second ball met the same fate, to be honest,” he added

“The first two he hit me for six, I thought, right, maybe a half a chance because it was the short boundary, Alex Stewart was under it and I thought straight down Alex Stewart’s throat, but they went just over his head, six, six," Malcolm said.

"As a young fast bowler, Viv Richards actually knew what the third ball was going to be.  So, I like a fool ran up and just pitched the ball up a little bit further.  It wasn’t a short ball I bowled, I pitched it up outside of off stump, a bit wide, and I tell you Viv Richards climbed into that ball so hard it hit off the cover boundary and bounced some 20 yards back on the field.  He actually said to me grass will never grow there again.  

“That over I remember he took me for about 18.  It was 18 so far and the final ball of the over, I pitched one up and Vivy just knocked it to extra cover run past me and said ‘that one should be another four man, but I hope the captain keeps you on.”

Malcolm did stay on, ending the match with disastrous figures of 0 for 142 in 33 overs, as the West Indies won the match by a crushing 164 runs and later claimed the series 2-1.  The bowler, however, has fond memories of the incident.

“That was one of the most expensive overs I have ever bowled in international cricket, but that was one of my most exciting overs because I thought I could have had Viv Richards out three times in the over.  Viv Richards wasn’t going to back down, I wasn’t going to back down.”  

 

 

Brian Lara has urged West Indies to "pounce immediately" and rattle England early on in their three-Test series.

The Windies great, formerly the all-time record run-scorer in Tests, believes his countrymen will struggle if matches go the full five-day distance.

But he sees West Indies as having the players who can impose themselves on their hosts, with the behind-closed-doors series starting in Southampton on Wednesday.

"They have to hit the road running and stamp their authority on England," Lara said in quotes published by the BBC.

"I don't think they can last five days, so they have to take these games in four days. They have to establish a lead and keep it."

Lara still holds the highest individual score in Tests - the 400 not out he scored against England in Antigua in 2004.

He knows what it takes to pick apart an England bowling attack, and West Indies' 2-1 series victory over the same opponents last year suggests the current breed can also more than hold their own.

Whether West Indies can be as competitive in English conditions as they were in the Caribbean remains to be seen.

"They have to be able to pounce immediately," said Lara. "England are not beaten very easily at home and are overwhelming favourites."

According to the 51-year-old Trinidadian, the tone for the series could be set on day one.

Lara said: "If they play good cricket on the first day of the Test series, show they have the mettle to perform against England, that's the key."

Ben Stokes will lead by example when he captains England against West Indies, says Dom Sibley.

With Joe Root absent from England's squad for the first Test in Southampton due to the birth of his second child, Stokes is to take charge for the opening game of the three-match series.

Sibley looks set to open the batting alongside Rory Burns as England return to action after a lengthy coronavirus-enforced absence.

"The boys are all raring to go. We've had the three-day warm-up which was good practice, we're all looking forward to getting out in the middle," said Sibley.

"[Stokes] is just going to do what he does, lead from the front, lead by example.

"His quality and energy on the pitch is a unique skill and presence. He'll just use that.

"He's someone the young guys look up to and will continue to do that regardless of whether he's captain or not."

Sibley scored his maiden Test 100 against South Africa in Cape Town in January and impressed on the tour, though he did not get chance to build on those displays prior to lockdown.

However, the 24-year-old – who revealed he has lost 12 kilograms over the course of the break – acknowledged the rest has been helpful.

"At the time I was raring to go and it's new for me to be playing for England, so I was buzzing to play every game," he added.

"But you've got to try and take it as a positive and to have a break after such a long winter was nice. To sit back and work out what I needed to improve on to keep doing well at this level, further my game.

"I'm trying to build on what I did in South Africa and hopefully contribute to a few wins. A few of us did quite well in South Africa, it feels like a lifetime ago but it's a case of trying to build on that and trying to score a few big scores in the series.

"I've been working hard during lockdown, it was probably needed to be fair. Over the winter I was carrying too much weight. I'm glad I'm feeling a bit fitter."

All of the upcoming matches will be played behind closed doors, though Sibley does not feel his game will be affected too drastically.

"If I could have had a choice, it's always a dream to play a Test at Lord's or at your home ground in front of a packed house," he said.

"Circumstances haven't allowed that to happen. I'd always choose to have a crowd in but maybe it might work to my advantage. It's not going to change how I play, I'm just going to do my thing."

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