ENGLAND recovered from another disappointing start to retain control of the first Test against the West Indies in Antigua last night, as bowler James Anderson closed in on Sir Ian Botham’s record wicket haul.
The tourists failed to build on Ian Bell’s century, losing their last five wickets for 42 runs as they were bowled out for 399, but their disciplined response restricted the hosts to 155-4 at stumps on day two.
Anderson took the scalp of West Indies opener Devon Smith to move on to 381 Test wickets – just two short of Botham’s tally, which the paceman could surpass today.
If there was frustration at England’s failure to build further on their advantage it was felt most keenly by all-rounder Ben Stokes.
He failed to turn his overnight 71 into a century, adding just eight more runs before edging a Jerome Taylor delivery to Jason Holder at gully.
Then later he thought he had removed Jermaine Blackwood – an intervention that would have left the West Indies wobbling on 133-5 – only to have Chris Jordan’s catch rendered futile by a no-ball.
Stokes was the only England bowler not to claim a victim, with James Tredwell, who took his first Test wicket for more than five years, the most economical, with figures of 1-22 from 15 overs.
Anderson also added a swift 20 off 22 balls with the bat, before his chip to Holder at short extra cover off a Marlon Samuels delivery signalled the end of England’s first innings.
Jordan had contributed 21 not out and Tredwell eight, before he became Darren Bravo’s third catch of the match, but Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad both went for ducks.
Wicketkeeper Buttler proved more useful behind the stumps, taking the catch that accounted for Smith (11) off Anderson and then gloving further shots from Bravo (10) and Samuels (33), off Jordan and Broad.
Kraigg Brathwate amassed a slow 39 before Jordan’s superb low catch at slip off Tredwell ended the opener’s 37-over effort.
But Blackwood (30 not out) and veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul (29 not out) took advantage of England and Stokes’s frustration at that no-ball to dig in to add an unbeaten 56 for the fifth wicket.
England’s priority when play resumes this afternoon will be breaking that partnership on a pitch at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium becoming less responsive with each over.
Most England Test wickets
383 Sir Ian Botham
381 James Anderson
325 Bob Willis
307 Fred Trueman
297 Derek Underwood