Old-firm centurions Alastair Cook and Joe Root provided England’s bankable constants against the West Indies in an ever-changing world at Edgbaston.
Day one of this country’s inaugural floodlit Test confirmed a raft of popular predictions about a pink ball which proved hard to spot for some broadcast viewers but did so little off a flat surface that Cook (153 not out) Root (136) had barely any discernible trouble throughout their third-wicket stand of 248.
Despite the early loss of debutant opener Mark Stoneman and novice Test number three Tom Westley, in this opening match of three, England therefore took complete control on the way to 348 for three at stumps after Root chose to bat first on a sunny afternoon.
Stat of the day
Root established a new English record of scoring a half-century in 11 consecutive matches, passing John Edrich who managed 10 between 1969-71. Root now sits level with Mominul Haque, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Viv Richards in the hall of fame and has the chance to join AB de Villiers on 12 in the next Test – on home turf at Headingley.
Tweet of the match
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) offers a withering assessment of the tourists’ attack early in the Root/Cook partnership.
Viewers tuning into the first session of the match took to Twitter to report problems picking up the pink Dukes ball. Scores of fans posted messages declaring it harder to pick up on screen than its red predecessor. It may have been a self-selecting sample but it included former Test batsman Mark Butcher, who declared it “really not easy to see on tv”.
With 25-year-old Keaton Jennings dropping out of the side and 30-year-old Mark Stoneman in his place, England’s XI contained a curiosity: the two youngest players in their side – Root and Ben Stokes – held the roles of captain and vice-captain. Since Root took over from Cook at the start of the summer he has blooded four new players but each of Stoneman, Tom Westley, Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones have been around longer than the skipper and his deputy, both 26.
Brothers in arms
Kyle Hope was handed his debut by the West Indies, joining brother Shai in the side. The Hopes became the sixth pair of brothers (or half-brothers) to take the field together in a Windies Test XI, joining Denis and Eric Atkinson, Jeffrey and Vic Stollmeyer, Jackie and Rolph Grant, Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins, Darren and Dwayne Bravo.
After the Oval celebrated its 100th men’s Test match earlier in the summer, it was Edgbaston’s turn to raise the bat for a landmark – hosting its 50th men’s Test this week.
The occasion was marked with a parade involving some of England cricket’s most celebrated names, with the likes of Ted Dexter, Geoffrey Boycott and Denis Amiss representing the senior generations, Sir Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan and David Gower tempted out from the commentary positions and ECB managing director Andrew Strauss in the fold too.
England will fancy their chances of establishing an impregnable position when play resumes on Friday afternoon. The only real question will be whether they can extend their first innings long enough to put the tourists in during the twilight stages of day two.
If so, James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be licking their lips at the prospect of wreaking havoc. The West Indies, meanwhile, must do whatever they can to find a foothold in a game – and a series – that could disappear from their grasp with indecent haste.