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Test Match: England’s fine duo raise fortunes, West Indies now fighting back

Ian Bell hits 22nd century in Test match against West Indies in Antigua to help England to 341-5 on day one of first Test, with the visitors 399 all out on day 2.

On the first day at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua after being positioned at 49-3 at lunch, England’s fortunes were helped dramatically after the first interval by the on form counter-attacking duo Ian Bell and Joe Root for 171.

It was a welcome revival for a scrutinised England after a rough start of 34 for three to the much welcomed 341 for five at stumps, especially after the team were labelled ‘mediocre’ by the ECB chairman-elect, Colin Graves.

In his first Test since leaving the Ashes Tour in 2013-14 Jonathan Trott was out on the third ball, Captain Alastair Cook 11, and Gary Ballance also fell easily at 10.

Ballance has had a torrid time, hitting only for 10 in his last three outings.

Root was eventually dismissed after tea by Jerome Taylor (2-79), the fast select attacker of the West Indies, while Bell continued to penalise some strong bowling, bringing up his century off 194 balls – before falling to Kemar Roach in the second but last over of the day.

“In 2009 I was dropped here in Antigua, so it was nice to come back here and put things right from my own perspective,” Bell told BBC Test Match Special.

Ben Stokes, who in his last three Test innings recorded three ducks, had a brilliant return to the side, in stark contrast to the early outing of Trott.

Stokes opened the batting for only the third time in his 50th Test match, edged Taylor to slip before scoring.

Said Roach: “Obviously we have our team plans because Alastair Cook has a weakness – everyone knows that – we just have to execute it as much as possible.”

Ex England batsman Geoffrey Boycott rasied a good point on BBC Test Match Special, saying:

“You could do a lot more to keep Test-match cricket alive. For the last 20 years we’ve hardly done anything. If you’d treated Test cricket like a normal, commercial business, almost all the administrators running the game would have got the sack – because the number of people coming to the game has gone down and down and down.”

After lunch on the first day of the International Test Match Series, West Indies’ bowlers appeared to have tired and England began dominating.

“Ben Stokes came in and showed everyone what he can do – he can destroy bowlers,” said Bell. “Hopefully we can have a bit more of that tomorrow.”

The England visitors ended on the second day 399 all out – losing their five last wickets to 42 runs, and in return, by the close of the second day Test West Indies slipped to 155-4.

England bowlers if they hold it together well enough, should have an advantage of defending against the notoriously difficult batting side.

Odds for England are 8/13 while West Indies stand at 10/1. Dabble a tenner on the host via Gambling Deals and you could be in for a good weekend. And if not, you’ll be quids in with Gambling Deals cashback.

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