England v West Indies: Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler impress on day one of third test

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Brilliant Cornwall capture rejects Burns
Third test, Emirates Old Trafford (first day of five)
England 258-4 (85.4 overs): Pape 91 *, Burns 57, Buttler 56 *
Antilles: Again to beat
Scorecard

Ollie Pope’s Class 91 not out gave England the upper hand on day one of the West Indies litmus test at Emirates Old Trafford.

Pope added an unbroken 136 with Jos Buttler, who is on 56, to push England to 258-4, seizing the initiative for the hosts in the evening twilight after two back-and-forth sessions.

Reducing England to 122-4, the West Indies had the chance to take control after winning the draw and choosing to play for the second time in as many weeks.

The opportunity was accentuated by England’s decision to cover for unable-to-play Ben Stokes by omitting batsman Zak Crawley in favor of an additional paceman – Chris Woakes at seven took a long look at the lower order.

But the Pope and Buttler rocked it along, and the Pope was only turned down a century before the end by a poor end game with 4.2 overs left.

They left England as favorites to win this Test, the series of three matches, and deny the West Indies a first success in this country since 1988.

As they attempt to win back the Wisden Trophy – which is to be replaced with an award named after legendary couple Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards – they will need to be aware of the Manchester weather.

Rain is forecast for the remainder of the game, with days two and four being the riskiest.

Arm wrestling in red

England captain Root is knocked out by a direct hit

Even without fans, Emirates Old Trafford has always had a red tint for the Ruth Strauss Foundation. The numbers on the players’ shirts are red and they wore red caps before the start of the game.

Despite all the speculation surrounding who could constitute England’s pace attack and the attention given to Jofra Archer since missing the second test, he and James Anderson were called up as the home side changed the balance of his team.

Their shortened batting roster was put in the spotlight by the West Indies’ decision to play in conditions that offered just enough encouragement for the bowlers.

During two thrilling sessions the teams competed for position, with England often under pressure from a West Indian team showing more life than their loss in the second test.

That, however, was reversed by Pope and Buttler’s free scoring, with the fifth pair of wickets showing not only the pitch suitable for strokeplay, but also sucking the energy of an increasingly torn Windies.

They’ve moved England to a position where they can knock the West Indies out of the game and maybe even negate the effect of any rain to come.

Stokes bowled as England lose third wicket

Pope and Buttler deliver

Pope and Buttler were under separate pressures to deliver – Pope after being preferred over Crawley, the wicket keeper Buttler without half a century in his previous seven tests.

They did so as part of a wonderful partnership that met with a frantic race between the wickets and a steady spice of the border.

The only alarming moment was when Pope on the 30th pulled off a Shannon Gabriel who had just escaped the dive from Roston Chase by running towards the deep central gate.

Recovered, Pope played elegant off-drive, stamps third man and cuts his toes on his way to his best score in an England test.

Buttler, feeling his way, was careful having only three balls out of 31. When he flipped the switch he lifted Rahkeem Cornwall for two six sides of the leg in the same course and followed with rubber discs through the covers.

Even the second new ball couldn’t stop Pope, who responded with a glorious practice off Kemar Roach, and he’s ready for a second century of testing at the age of just 22.

The winds fade after a good start

West Indies eliminate England Sibley opener

The West Indies’ decision to play paid immediate dividends when Dom Sibley faced Roach to be lbw on the sixth ball of the game.

The sight of Gabriel hobbling in the eighth would have been especially alarming given the decision to drop a bowler in favor of Cornwall, but Gabriel returned to play a full part and tourists made their way through the first order.

Joe Root was brilliantly executed by Chase’s pickup and throw and Stokes was thrown through the gate after being softened by Roach’s short balls.

And, when the towering Cornwall figure took a stunning reaction to the briefs to fire Rory Burns for 57, the West Indies were ready to take the reins.

Not much went well for tourists afterwards. Chase, who took five wickets in the last test, was strangely underutilized, wicket keeper Shane Dowrich endured a rough day and the pace bowlers couldn’t contain Pope and Buttler.

The decision to delay taking the new ball by two overs was further evidence of a confused thinking, and they would have been relieved when the light stepped in.

“A bad session could have cost Windies the series” – analysis

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: “This last session will have cost the West Indies the Wisden Trophy unless light and bad weather occur.

“The English have been very, very good in this session. In particular, Ollie Pope, I was very impressed with the way he was reading the situation and I was busy. He played wonderful shots.

“Jos Buttler played a stable round. He looked like he had found his balance. ”

Ollie Pope from England speaks at Test Match Special: “It feels good, especially to have failed so far in the series.

“In this intense environment, you can spend too much time thinking about your failures. I hope I am sleeping well. I’ll take a sleeping pill – I normally do when I’m not out – and hopefully hit the hay hard enough. ”

On Michael Vaughan saying he’s England’s best young player since Joe Root: “It’s a huge compliment, especially from a former captain and one of the bigger ones. I take it as a huge positive, I don’t necessarily see it as additional pressure. “

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