While Ben Stokes has made the strongest impression on this match so far, it was given an indelible mark on the second evening as James Anderson became the first Englishman to reach 500 Test wickets. Stokes’ six-for had upstaged his team-mate in West Indies’ first innings and he continued to shape events around him as England gained a 71-run first-innings lead – but Anderson was immediately to the fore as the tourists batted again.
By the close on another rain-swept, shortened day, West Indies had wiped out the deficit for the loss of three wickets. Kieran Powell, who seemed set to capitalise on the latest drop in a series of fallible catching, was the third to fall as Anderson returned for a second spell and produced an unplayable bail-trimmer to end a 48-run partnership with Shai Hope. With the pitch continuing to offer assistance to the seamers, the deciding Investec Test was tantalisingly poised.
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Anderson’s big moment came in his second over with the new ball, a vintage inswinger that cut a path inside Kraigg Brathwaite’s defensive push to knock back middle stump. As Lord’s rose, the trademark Anderson grimace of effort blossomed into a smile, before he gestured with the ball to each side of the ground in acknowledgement of the landmark.
Quickly, a chorus of “Oh, Jimmy Jimmy” struck up around the ground on which he claimed his first wicket – Mark Vermeulen, bowled – 14 years ago, as well as several other milestones along the way. With the sun out and conditions at their most hospitable for batsmen (and spectators) in the match, England had an immediate opening – though they spurned the chance to remove Powell, on 2, in the following over, when Stokes dropped a thick edge at fourth slip off Stuart Broad.
West Indies did lose their second wicket soon after, Broad in no doubt that his delivery was hitting the stumps before Kyle Hope’s pads intervened. Hope backed name with deed in an optimistic review but was soon on his way after completing a difficult maiden Test series in which he scored 41 runs across six innings.
With the clock ticking past 7pm, England’s eagerness began to get the better of them, with both of their reviews wasted attempting to overturn lbw decisions against Hope and Roston Chase. Anderson was also given a second warning – and a talking to from Marais Erasmus – for running on the pitch.
England’s advantage had been built during the afternoon on a bristling half-century from Stokes, facing down a five-wicket haul from Kemar Roach, before two lower-order partnerships added to West Indies’ frustrations. They were again left to rue mistakes in the field, as Stokes was dropped on 24. He then combined with Jonny Bairstow to lift England towards parity, although when Stokes fell, Shannon Gabriel hitting his stumps for the second time in an over (the first coming off a no-ball), England were only five runs ahead.
That lead was stretched beyond expectations as the last two wickets added a further 60 runs, with Broad’s 38 – including sixes launched into the Tavern and Mound Stands – becoming the second-highest contribution of the innings.
Jason Holder eventually put down the tail-end insurrection with his third and fourth wickets to finish an extended middle session and, in bright sunshine, there were plenty of overs remaining in the day. Not since the 2005 Ashes Test had both sides been dismissed at Lord’s for less than 200 in the first innings (the same match, coincidentally, in which Glenn McGrath reached 500 Test wickets).
Earlier, in stubbornly overcast conditions, batting was seldom straightforward – even if Stokes’ powerful stroke-making sometimes made it look so – but West Indies once again gave England another potentially crucial let-off. With Holder having just removed one of his three slips, Gabriel drew a thick edge from Stokes that flew towards the freshly created gap and although Kyle Hope flung himself across for a one-handed catch he couldn’t hold on.
Holder immediately reinforced the cordon but the chance had gone. If Stokes had fallen, England would have been 65 for 6; instead the sixth-wicket pair put on 56, the joint-highest partnership of the match.
With rain interrupting the morning session, play did not get back underway until 2.15pm. Stokes was dropped from the second ball after the resumption and then proceeded to rub it in on his way to a sixth 50-plus score of a summer that has confirmed his maturation as a Test batsman.
Stokes and Bairstow have been England’s most prolific pairing since the start of 2016 and they took England into three figures. Stokes’ check-drive to move to 49 was the shot of a man in form and his next delivery was cut powerfully to the cover sweeper to bring up his fifty, which followed on from career-best figures with the ball on the first day.
Bairstow had looked less comfortable, his outside edge beaten several times by Roach, who then went wide on the crease to arrow the ball in and win an lbw decision – Bairstow reviewed in vain, Hawk-Eye showing it to be hitting leg stump flush.
Things threatened to go maddeningly wrong for West Indies a few overs later, when Gabriel brought a beast of a delivery back in from round the wicket to hit Stokes’ off stump, only for replays to confirm he had overstepped. Gabriel puffed out his cheeks, lugged his sizeable frame back to the top of his mark… and two balls later sent a near-90mph ball straight through Stokes’ defences again, ending any thoughts the allrounder might get on the batting honours board (for a second time) as well.
England had, by that stage, crept into the lead and although Moeen Ali did not last long, wafting Roach to gully to complete the bowler’s five-for, the ninth-wicket stand pushed the advantage from ‘slender’ towards ‘handy’. Shane Dowrich dropped Roland-Jones on 11, a poor effort moving to his right, although he only lasted four more balls before edging Holder. Broad and Anderson then made merry to add another 31.
Only 4.2 overs were possible during the morning skirmish, although that was enough time for West Indies to take the wicket of Dawid Malan. Roach produced another demanding ball from the Nursery End – similar to that which did for Alastair Cook on the first evening – holding its line up the slope to take the outside edge. While Malan managed only 20, it did at least mean he had doubled the first-innings contribution of England’s top five.