Batters in good place after promising four days in Antigua, as off-field matters overshadow
England XI 466 for 6 (Bairstow 106*, Lawrence 83, Lees 65, Crawley 62, Root 54) and 164 for 4 dec (Lawrence 48, Foakes 43*) drew with CWI President’s XI 264 (Reifer 106, Leach 4-62) and 123 for 7
Things that matter and, you know, things that actually matter.
“We’re just really shocked and sad to hear that such a legend of the game has passed so suddenly,” Root said.
“We had just started the game and it sort of filtered through the dressing room. It’s been quite a quiet dressing room off the back of it, it’s hit everyone quite hard if I’m being brutally honest.”
The news dramatically overshadowed the start of the day’s play as an already diminishing contest finally broke from its illusion of being a competitive fixture and was replaced by the reality of a practice session.
As England declared on 164 for 4 and set the President’s XI a notional 366 to win, eyes turned to whether Wood and Stokes would be able to bowl.
Speaking at the close of play yesterday, interim head coach Paul Collingwood said that Stokes had done “everything possible” to be fit to bowl in Tuesday’s first Test and that there was a chance he could “play a small part” with the ball next week in Antigua. A marked improvement from earlier in the match, where word had been that any bowling Stokes would do in this game would be solely focused on preparing for the second Test.
Amidst the breaking of bad news and managed bowling loads, a game of sorts did reach a conclusion as the President’s XI batted out the remainder of the day to finish 123 for 7 with Overton the other contributor of note with the ball, finishing with 2 for 12 from his eight overs.
In all it has been a useful exercise for England. Batters have batted and bowlers have bowled against a more than competent opposition. And while the pitch being as docile (ibid) as it was was without doubt a considerable downside, overall it was a positive start to Operation Red-Ball Reset.
Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby