Alastair Cook and Ian Bell lifted England from a precarious position to victory in the first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s.
England, set a target of 191 to win, were faltering at 57 for four before lunch on the fifth and final day. But Cook (79) and Bell (63*) shared a 132-run fifth-wicket partnership that saw England, the world’s number one ranked Test side, to the brink of victory. Left-handed opener Cook was dismissed by West Indies captain Darren Sammy with two runs remaining but Bell hit the winning boundary that gave England a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“We felt the pitch was pretty slow and flat,” said England captain Andrew Strauss. “It looked a bit dicey but Cook and Bell set about it in a very civilised manner and saw us home.”
England’s first-innings saw Strauss end his 18-month wait for a Test century.
“It was lovely to score that hundred and when you do that in a winning cause it makes it all the more special.”
The West Indies, who have not won a Test match outside the Caribbean against major opposition since defeating South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2007, came into this game with a record of just two wins in 30 matches. While they made England work for their victory and did well to take the game into the fifth day, the result left Sammy a disappointed man.
“We did a lot of good things and we need to look at them and repeat them more consistently,” said Sammy. “We fancied our chances this morning but once the hardness of the ball went away, it became much easier to bat. An experienced batting line-up like England’s showed its class and saw them home.”
England resumed this morning after Kemar Roach had taken two wickets for seven runs in eight balls to remove Strauss and nightwatchman James Anderson on the fourth day.
Roach struck again to remove Trott for 13 with a good length ball that squared him up and took the edge with Sammy, diving to his left, holding a good catch at second slip. And 13 also proved an unlucky number for Trott’s fellow South Africa-born batsman Kevin Pietersen.
He had just pulled Test debutant Shannon Gabriel’s third delivery of the innings for four when, to the fast-bowler’s next ball, he tried to repeat the stroke and got a bottom edge to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin. England were in trouble but Cook and Bell saw their side home without much fuss.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.