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England defeats West Indies

England has held off a respectable West Indies to take victory in the first test at Lords.  In the end Alastair Cook (79) and Ian Bell (63*) steered the home side to victory after lunch on the fifth and final day.  England were given a scare though as the tourists, who had taken two wickets late on the fourth day, snared Jonathon Trott and Kevin Pietersen before lunch.

The assured display from Cook and Bell belied the 4/57 score-line, as the two kept the scoreboard ticking and looked to be in control.  Victory had been assured when Darren Sammy had Cook dismissed late.  Bell, who looked to be in good form, scored the winning runs the next over.

England were given a scare earlier in the match, too.  Having dismissed the West Indies for a modest 243 in the first innings, and appearing to have been bowling with a two piece ball such was the bowlers’ movement, England put on a solid 398 in reply, captain Andrew Strauss scoring his first century (122) in eighteen months.  The West Indies managed to make a contest of the match, their middle order firing to take them to a score of 345, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels falling just short of individual centuries.

It was Kemar Roach who put chills through the England dressing room in the fourth innings, taking 3 wickets and giving him 6 in a match where he looked the only real danger for the West Indies with the ball.  For England, though, Stuart Broad snared 11 wickets in the match, his first haul of 10 wickets or more.

The Windies’ competitiveness has again sparked debate about their missing stars.  After the match captain Darren Sammy suggested that he would be welcoming of a return to the side from anyone that the selectors picked, leaving the door open for a return to international cricket for superstar-for-hire Chris Gayle.  Gayle, though, has stated that he will be honouring his commitments away from the West Indian team.  It’s a sad state of affairs, with the former captain still at an impasse with West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

The West Indies are without a win against a major international team away from home since 2007, and have one just two tests since they defeated England in Jamaica in 2009.  The second test begins on Friday.

Nick Ashenden

 

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