“Key wicket – England’s Ben Stokes was clean bowled by West Indies’ Kemar Roach for 20 on the first day of the third Test at Old Trafford. ©AFP”
Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England suffered a major setback when talisman Ben Stokes was dismissed for just 20 on the first day of the decisive third Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford on Friday.
The hosts were 131-4 at tea, with fast bowler Kemar Roach having removed second-Test century-makers Dom Sibley and Stokes on his way to fine figures of 2 wickets for 28 runs from 12.4 overs.
And there was still time before the interval for England to lose opener Rory Burns for a well-made 57 after the recalled Rahkeem Cornwall took a sensational slip catch off the bowling of fellow spinner Roston Chase.
England dropped number three batsman Zak Crawley and left-arm paceman Sam Curran, with their places taken by express quick Jofra Archer and veteran spearhead James Anderson.
Captain Joe Root was promoted to number three, with Stokes moving up to four.
Root was in early, with opener Sibley out for a five-ball duck after West Indies captain Jason Holder won the toss on an overcast morning.
Sibley, who had frustrated the West Indies with a near eight-hour hundred in the second Test, was lbw playing across the line to a full-length delivery from Roach.
The West Indies had a scare when Shannon Gabriel limped off midway through his fourth over but he came back on, a relier for the tourists given they had just three specialist quick bowlers.
– Root run out –
England, after making steady progress, gifted the West Indies a second wicket.
Burns cut Cornwall and Root, going for a tight single, failed to beat Chase’s direct hit from backward point and was run out for 17.
His exit brought in Stokes, playing after a quad injury cast doubt over his bowling fitness.
But with the Durham all-rounder’s innings of 176 and 78 not out pivotal to England’s 113-run win in the second Test, also in Manchester, that saw them level this series at 1-1, it was no surprise to see him effectively deployed as a specialist batsman.
Stokes, now behind only Australia’s Steve Smith and India captain Virat Kohli in the ICC’s Test batting rankings, was, brilliantly set-up by Roach.
The paceman tested him out with a couple of short balls and, having previously moved a couple of deliveries away from the left-handed batsman, clean bowled Stokes with one that seamed back to leave England 92-3.
Burns made a composed fifty off 126 balls before a promising fourth-wicket partnership of 30 with Surrey team-mate Pope ended in dramatic fashion.
An edged cut off Chase flew to first slip where the giant Cornwall, belying his 6ft 6in and some 22 stone frame, demonstrated brilliant reactions to hold an outstanding one-handed catch.
Archer had been left out of the second Test for breaching the regulations designed to prevent coronavirus infections after making an unauthorised trip home.
The Barbados-born quick had subsequently said he had been subjected to online racist abuse.
But Root, speaking at the toss, insisted: “Jofra is ready to play.Over the last couple of days he’s got his smile back, he’s bowled with real pace in the nets.”
Victory for the West Indies would see them secure a first Test series win in England for 32 years.
This series, played without spectators, marks international cricket’s return from the coronavirus lockdown.