The West Indies closed on 202-4 on day two of the first Test in Antigua after bowling England out for 311; all eyes were on how England’s seam attack would perform in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad after the duo were left out of the squad for this tour
Last Updated: 09/03/22 11:53pm
Mark Wood believes England’s seam bowlers’ desire to prove themselves in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad may have contributed to their slow start against the West Indies’ batsmen.
Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, and Broad, who has over 500 Test wickets to his name, were both controversially left out of the squad for the tour to the Caribbean, with Wood, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton and Ben Stokes shouldering the responsibility in this match.
West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite (55) and John Campbell (35) put on 83 for the first wicket after England were bowled out for 311 in the morning and although they were reduced to 127-4 at one point the hosts recovered to close on 202-4, with Wood left rueing a lack of an early breakthrough.
“I don’t think it’s about being patient,” Wood told Sky Sports News. “We set higher standards than just being patient – we’re out here to win and to play for England. If we’re expecting in five or six Test matches’ time that will be the answer, it won’t.
“As can happen with any bowler, we just didn’t get it right at the start and maybe we tried a bit too hard. With the void of Anderson and Broad, maybe we wanted to try a bit hard and prove we can do it as a group.
“Maybe that was it, but I just don’t think we started well and the way we came back I think showed good character as a group. We fielded well, we had good intensity there, so there were bits of play where I think we did really well.
“It’s obviously going to be talked about, Anderson and Broad, because they are legends, but we just have to admit we didn’t get it right to start with and we’ll be out to get it right next time.”
The four wickets were shared around the seamers, with Overton making the breakthrough by removing Campbell then making the catch off Wood’s bowling which removed Brathwaite.
All-rounder Stokes then claimed the wicket of Sharmarh Brookes (18) and Woakes got Jermaine Blackwood just before tea, which was the sole highlight of an otherwise expensive spell from the Warwickshire man who finished the day with an economy rate of 4.50 runs an over.
Jason Holder (43 not out) and Nkrumah Bonner (34 not out) put on a watchful unbeaten stand of 75 to take the West Indies through to the close on day two in Antigua without further loss and Wood knows the importance of England finding some consistency on day three.
“I just don’t think we were as consistent as we needed to be,” Wood told BT Sport at the close of play. “I think the pitch, although it wasn’t offering loads of assistance, I think our lengths were poor.
“We were either too short or too full – we didn’t quite get it right. I think in the circumstances I tried a little bit too hard and I put a bit too much pressure on myself to try to take early wickets, whereas when we settled in later on we controlled the game.
“When me and Stokes were bowling that partnership, we were saying ‘this is the clear plan’ and we felt threatening. When we’ve stuck to our plans, it’s been consistent, and it has worked well for us.”
Left-arm spinner Jack Leach’s spell, which included nine maidens and saw him go for just 1.83 runs per over, did much to check the progress of the West Indies even though he did not claim any wickets on a pitch so far offering little for the slower bowlers.
It has been a similar story for the England seamers in the pitch offering little assistance for them either. Nevertheless, Wood is determined both he and his fellow bowlers can find a way to take wickets quickly when play resumes with the hosts 109 runs behind England’s first innings total.
“[We need to] Find a way to get wickets on this wicket,” Wood said. “It’s easy to say it’s a flat pitch, but we’ve got to find a way, we’ve got to find chances, we’ve got to make something happening and early wickets are going to be key.
“Then if we can get the new ball, that will also hopefully help, but if we can keep the reverse swinging then maybe that will give us a chance, but we’ve got to try to get the ball moving somehow.”
Source : Sky Sports