x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell pave way for England victory in Lord's Test

Both batsmen score fifties as hosts beat the West Indies by five wickets in the first Test.

Alastair Cook scored his 29th Test half-century against the West Indies today. Philip Brown / Reuters
Alastair Cook scored his 29th Test half-century against the West Indies today. Philip Brown / Reuters

LONDON // Andrew Strauss, the England captain, believes his world-beating team’s famed resilience with both bat and ball allowed them to prevail in a tough first Test of the summer against West Indies yesterday.

Many predicted an easy home victory at Lord’s, as stage one of a landslide success in this three-match series.

But after England appeared to take control over the first two days, on the back of Strauss’ first Test century in 18 months and man-of-the-match Stuart Broad’s career-best seven for 72 in the first innings, it all turned out to be a little bit closer than most expected.

There was still a degree of comfort as England got home on the final afternoon with five wickets to spare, thanks to half-centuries from Alastair Cook (79) and Ian Bell (63no) in pursuit of 191.

But the West Indies – the batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the strike bowler Kemar Roach in particular – hinted at the tourists’ increasing potential.

Certainly at 57 for four yesterday, England had work to do.

“Whenever you’re chasing there’s a bit of pressure, so it was an outstanding effort from Cook and Bell,” said Strauss. “They played in a very classy manner. It was getting a bit harder, but we had faith the wicket would stay flat and slow.

“Our plan was just to negotiate the new ball, and things would become more simple. That’s one of our real strengths as a side – a number of players play in different ways. It is reassuring with Cook and Trott at the crease, and shot-players further down the innings.

“We all know Cook’s qualities, and I’m sure he’s pleased to see the boys home.”

Cook did not quite do that, departing with two runs still required – but any lingering doubt about the outcome was long gone by then.

“It wouldn’t have been a good thing to fall short in this circumstance,” added Strauss, who rightly waved away direct comparison with England’s abject failure in very different conditions to chase 145 to win against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi at the start of this year.

Most recently, they knocked off an easier target to claim a drawn series in Sri Lanka, and Strauss said: “In Colombo we showed the lessons from the UAE had been learnt, but any time you chase down a score you have to be happy. We’re very happy to have registered a victory.”

Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, had mixed feelings – the disappointment of defeat, but the knowledge his side had exceeded the expectations of so many.

“We are quite pleased,” he said. “We were told no fifth-day tickets were printed, but we showed a never-say-die attitude and produced some good performances.

“No one gave us a chance, and we kept coming back. That shows team spirit. But we’ve got to be at our best all the time against the number one team.”

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