West Indies vs England third Test: Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler put tourists in promising position on day one

9 Feb

Ben Stokes overcame injury and a brief trip to the pavilion as unbeaten half-centuries from him and Jos Buttler finally gave England something to cheer about against the West Indies.

Seeking to avert a 3-0 whitewash in St Lucia, the tourists saw a revamped top order buckle in devastating fashion, reduced to 107 for four on the first afternoon, before the middle-order pair took the score to 231 without additional loss.

Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes celebrate England’s resurgence in St Lucia

Stokes had to pass a late fitness test to even make the XI, after struggling with a badly bruised heel, and initiated the defiant fightback which unfolded in the evening session. His work appeared to be done on 52 when Alzarri Joseph clung to a fine return catch but replays showed the seamer overstepping and Stokes (62 not out) was summoned back to the crease having already left the field of play.

Buttler, dropped on nought earlier, but turned his luck into a responsible knock worth 67no.

England had been inserted on a pitch billed as the quickest in the Caribbean and, though that proved a red herring, Keaton Jennings’ recall just one game after being axed still ended in failure.

The Lancashire opener was palpably out of form as he scraped together eight runs. He could have been out twice in the same Kemar Roach over for just three, surviving a sound lbw appeal that the Windies declined to refer and then relying on Roston Chase’s bungled attempt to hold a thick edge.

Stokes survived a scare to pull through for England

Former England captain Nasser Hussain described the innings as “cruel watching” on television and it ended in the expected manner, nicking off after feeling for Keemo Paul’s first ball of the match.

Rory Burns (29) and Joe Denly (20) have points of their own to prove and had a handful of awkward moments on the way to a lunch score of 46 for one. Denly went particularly close, gloving Shannon Gabriel behind but just letting go of the bat first.

England were outplayed throughout the afternoon session, coughing up three wickets for 68 runs. Gabriel set the tone with a fast, hostile and accurate spell but it was Paul’s introduction which made things happen for the second time.

He went round the wicket and wide on the crease at Burns, who was struck on the pad looking for his favoured whip to leg. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena was not persuaded by the appeal, but would have cringed when DRS showed the ball flattening middle stump.

Denly walks off after having the stumps taken out of the ground

Six balls later it was Denly’s turn to fall lbw, bested for pace by Gabriel to leave his side 69 for three.

That left Joe Root and Buttler at the crease, but the England captain and his deputy both found themselves beaten on nought. Root had a couple of wafts but Buttler was luckier, following a Gabriel outswinger that should have been taken at second or third slip but was pawed to the ropes instead.

Root began to settle for the first time in three Tests, a crisp cover drive and a back cut coming out of the middle, but failed to reach tea. Drawn out by a shorter, wider ball from Joseph he failed to move his feet and nicked softly to Shane Dowrich.

Stokes had just six when he survived a tight lbw in the opening seconds of the final session and responded by upping the ante. Although careful not to play rashly he was unforgiving to anything loose.

One four was thumped straight down the ground, a second slashed behind square and another pounded past cover. When a pull brought up the 50 stand, he had been responsible for 41 of the runs.

The flurry of activity drew Buttler out of his shell too, most pleasingly with an authoritative swivel pull off Joseph, and the duo put on 86 before Stokes’ reprieve. Joseph deserved more for his sharp handiwork but was guilty of an unforced, costly error in footwork.

Buttler topped up his score during a tame mini-session before stumps, as England put together their longest innings of the tour.

West Indies vs England third Test: Keaton Jennings and Mark Wood ‘to play’ in final match of the series

8 Feb

Keaton Jennings has been recalled to the England squad for the third and final Test match against the West Indies.

Jennings was dropped for the second Test with Joe Denly coming in to replace him at the top of the batting order.

Keaton Jennings has been recalled to the Test side

Denly, along with the rest of the England team, struggled as they were thrashed by 10 wickets.

With the West Indies taking an unassailable 2-0 lead into Saint Lucia, the visitors have just pride to play for, but there could be some big calls ahead for the selectors.

Mark Wood and Keaton Jennings are both in contention to play and have been named in a 12-man squad.

talkSPORT understands that both will play in the match that starts on Saturday, live on talkSPORT 2.

Ben Foakes, Chris Woakes and Jack Leach are all missing for the final Test.

England were assessing the fitness of Ben Stokes ahead of the match and he has been named in that squad.

Jonny Bairstow was seen practicing with the gloves on Friday and is likely to keep wicket.

England 12-man squad to face the West Indies: Joe Root, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.

Every match of the tour of the West Indies will be LIVE on talkSPORT 2 and you can catch the action by clicking here for the live commentary stream. You can also listen through the talkSPORT App, on DAB Digital Radio or on MW 1053 or 1089.

West Indies vs England second Test: Joe Root says ‘we are not going to shy away from tough decisions’ as Keaton Jennings axed from side

30 Jan

Joe Root says England will not shy away from making the tough decisions after Keaton Jennings was axed from the starting XI.

The tourists were comprehensively beaten by 381 runs against the West Indies in the first Test of a three-match series.

Out-of-form opener Jennings struggled in the defeat and the decision was made to hand Joe Denly his debut for the next Test.

England captain Joe Root was speaking to talkSPORT ahead of the second Test

Speaking ahead of the second Test which started on Thursday, Root told talkSPORT: “I would like to see us as a brave side moving forward.

“We are not going to shy away from making difficult decisions and doing things slightly differently when we are in a climate where it is difficult to win away from home.

“It didn’t pay off for us last week but did exceptionally well in Sri Lanka.

“We’ve got another opportunity to go out and perform well for our country.

“As a team, and as individuals, there is plenty at stake for the guys out here and we want to make sure we get back into this series very quickly.

“I think it will have dented a few people’s prides after the manner of that defeat last week.

“We’ve got some strong characters that want to come back from that quickly and show what they are about individually and us as a side as well.”

Denly, 32, is set to open the batting with Rory Burns for the second Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

The Kent all-rounder opened the batting earlier in his career but has not done so for four years at first-class level.

Root, though, does not see this as a problem and backed him to grab his chance.

Joe Denly is set to be handed his Test debut

Root added: “I think being 1-0 down in the series, it felt like we wanted to make a change and give Joe an opportunity to go and show what he can.

“One thing he has got in a huge amount of abundance is experience. At 32-years-old he has played a lot of cricket.

“He’s coming off the back of some good form, even if it is in white ball cricket.

“He’s full of confidence and has prepared well in this tour so far and looks capable of scoring runs at this level.

“I’m sure he’s very excited about this opportunity and he will be desperate to make the most of it.

“When you have experience of opening the batting, at any level, that counts for a lot.

“If you have never played at this level before then you are going into the unknown anyway whether you are 22-years-old or 32-years-old.

“That being said, having a lot of experience behind him will do him a favour. I fully believe that will stand him in good stead when he’s out there.

“More than anything, the message to him will go out there and be himself and play his natural game and to make good decisions for as long as possible.”

Every match of the tour of the West Indies will be LIVE on talkSPORT 2 and you can catch the action by clicking here for the live commentary stream. You can also listen through the talkSPORT App, on DAB Digital Radio or on MW 1053 or 1089.

West Indies vs England second Test: Keaton Jennings dropped with Joe Denly set to partner Rory Burns at the top of the order

30 Jan

Keaton Jennings has been dropped for England’s second Test against the West Indies.

Kent batsman Joe Denly is set to make his debut in Antigua on Thursday, opening the batting alongside Rory Burns, and you can listen to all the action exclusively LIVE on talkSPORT 2.

Keaton Jennings has been dropped for the second Test

Jennings is the one casualty after England were thrashed by 381 runs in the first Test in Barbados.

He scored just 17 and 14 in the first and second innings of that match respectively.

Denly, 32, was selected for both of England’s winter tours but did not get a chance in Sri Lanka. He will now, however, get an opportunity in the Caribbean.

Joe Root named his 12-man squad for the match at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium, with Stuart Broad and Jack Leach also in contention having missed out on a place in the side for the first Test.

“It gives Joe an opportunity,” Root said. “It’s disappointing for Keaton [Jennings], he’s done some excellent things and he will continue to work on developing his game and be a big part of this squad.”

It was later revealed on England’s Twitter account that Adil Rashid is temporarily leaving the tour.

“Adil Rashid will leave the party during the second Test to return home as his wife is expecting their second child,” read the tweet.

“He will return ahead of the ODIs.”

England 12-man squad for second Test v West Indies: Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (c), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Jack Leach.

Every match of the tour of the West Indies will be LIVE on talkSPORT 2 and you can catch the action by clicking here for the live commentary stream. You can also listen through the talkSPORT App, on DAB Digital Radio or on MW 1053 or 1089.

West Indies captain Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich punish wicketless England at the Kensington Oval

25 Jan

Jason Holder’s excellent double hundred and a supporting century from Shane Dowrich left England humbled for the second day in a row and battling to avoid a big defeat in the first West Indies Test.

Just 24 hours after being destroyed for 77 in Barbados, England toiled grimly away in an entirely joyless and wicketless slog which lasted almost five hours and left a notional winning target of 628.

Jason Holder was magnificent for the Windies

Windies skipper Holder was imperious for his 202 not out, hitting 23 fours and eight sixes as he relentlessly punished a listless visiting attack and proved himself an impostor in the lowly position of number eight.

Only two players in the history of the game have ever scored more from that station, Wasim Akram and Imtiaz Ahmed, while his 295 stand alongside the composed Dowrich (116n/o) was the third largest the game has ever seen for the seventh wicket.

The 6ft 7in all-rounder’s vibrant, beaming celebrations when he reached 200 by flogging part-time seamer Keaton Jennings into the leg-side immediately segued into a declaration, which left England 20 overs to bat before stumps.

Jennings and Rory Burns safely negotiated that unenviable task to reach 56 for nought but with two full days ahead their efforts represented the tip of the iceberg.

Keaton Jennings is in need of a confidence boost

In the short-term, all focus will be trained batting for six full sessions, but beyond that there are questions over the make-up of the team going forward and the condition of James Anderson and Ben Stokes.

The pair have sent down almost 100 overs between them in Bridgetown and looked weary, overworked and under-rested as they trudged off in Holder and Dowrich’s slipstream.

They had hoped for better as they stepped out on the third morning, 339 behind but with ambitions of claiming the last four wickets swiftly enough to begin embarking on an already difficult chase.

Instead the Windies moved their score from 127 for six to 415 without further loss. They added 110 in the first session, 112 in the second and 66 more in the evening before the mercy of the declaration.

Joe Root consoles James Anderson as he struggles in Barbados

England’s first hint of the trouble to come came when an 11-over blast from Anderson and Stokes, easily their most threatening duo, drew a blank. When Joe Root changed it up, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid were treated with varying levels of disdain as Holder began establishing himself at the primary aggressor.

At lunch the prospective target was already 449, comfortably in world record territory, while Holder had passed England’s paltry first-innings total on his own.

Holder raced to his third Test hundred in just 99 balls, accelerating with a pair of sixes off the struggling Rashid, celebrating with the expressiveness of a man who did not yet know there was another to come.

Root at one stage resorted to flinging the ball at leg stump from round the wicket as England’s enthusiasm for the contest waned, a state of affairs not helped by Holder surviving a pair of half-chances on 127 and 151. Burns and Ben Foakes made game attempts a two very tough chances but came up short.

Anderson took hold of the second new ball with more resignation than relish and it fared little better than the old one. Dowrich slowed as he approached his hundred but brought up the 200 partnership in style as he drove Anderson down the ground showing the full face of his bat.

A punch through point off Moeen finally allowed him to take the spotlight from Holder for a moment in honour of his third century at this level but it soon returned to the skipper.

The sight of Jennings’ part-time medium pace must have been a welcome one as he faced up on 198 and one swing of the arms later he was walking off to rich and deserved acclaim.

England cricket exclusive: Kevin Pietersen backs move to drop Stuart Broad, says Keaton Jennings ‘cannot bat’, and praises Alastair Cook

13 Sep

Kevin Pietersen spoke exclusively to talkSPORT on Thursday.

The former cricket star gave his thoughts on who should open the batting for England following Alastair Cook’s retirement, dismissing Keaton Jennings’ credentials with a brutal put-down.

Pietersen and Broad were once England teammates

He also welcomed reports Stuart Broad will be left out of the squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka, claiming he should have been axed a year ago, while he had some kind things to say about Cook despite their fall-out over the end of his own international career.

Here’s what he had to say to Adrian Durham and Darren Gough on Drivetime…

Who should open the batting for England in Sri Lanka?

“It is brilliant that Rory Burns is predicted to go on the tour of Sri Lanka. That is going to be wonderful.

“Jennings can’t bat, I’m sorry. They are going to have to find somebody else. Cook is a big loss. I know he has been wishy-washy over the last couple of months but he finished on a fairy tale ending, which is brilliant for him but to replace that kind of guy at the top of the order, it is going to be difficult.

Mark Stoneman and Mason Crane named in England squad to face West Indies, with Keaton Jennings dropped
Kevin Pietersen is no fan of Keaton Jennings

“I just don’t see county cricket producing Test cricketers at the moment. The issue is deep-rooted.

“All the best players in the world now are not playing county cricket. They are earning their cash in franchise cricket. Therefore, the standard of county cricket isn’t great, the standard of county batsmen is poor, and it is causing a massive issue in cabs on the rank for batting places.

“I’m not a massive fan of Vince, if I’m honest. He had his chances. I watched him play down under last year. He played nicely, but I just didn’t like the way he went about his business on a couple of occasions when the ball started to bounce. For the tour of South Africa next year, the ball will bounce.

“I like Jason Roy. He has got oomph, he has got guts, he has got runs at the top of the order in Australia. He scored that brilliant 180 at the MCG. It is about how guys score their runs and what their personalities are like. I would be all for Roy at the top of the order with Rory Burns.

“I don’t think Moeen Ali is a number three. He wasn’t playing his natural game [against India], he is more free-flowing down the order.

On Alastair Cook’s international retirement:

Cook enjoyed a fairy tale ending to his international career

“I think he is tired. Goodness, he has played 160 Test matches. I played 100-and-something Test matches and you get incredibly tired and it is actually not the batting that gets you down, it is the monotony of the dressing room, being on the road all the time, the warm-ups, the fitness testing, all the nonsense around the set-up which you have to do.

“Technology has taken over and I’m sure these guys have to be monitored 24/7 in terms of what they are eating, what they are drinking, how far they are running. The monotony of all that stuff can break a person down mentally and after 160 Test matches, he must have been completely broken.”

On reports Stuart Broad will be dropped for the tour of Sri Lanka:

“I would have dropped him last winter. He doesn’t perform that well away from home. He had one good Ashes series and what he delivered for England in the big Ashes series last year was hopeless. I’ve been on tours of the sub-continent, he doesn’t like touring the sub-continent so it wouldn’t surprise me and it would be a very good move if they dropped him.”

KP called for Broad to be dropped

Is James Anderson England’s best ever cricketer?

“I wouldn’t say he is the very best just because he has bowled most of his overs in England with the Duke ball and if you want to be a fast bowler anywhere it is with the Duke ball in England.

“I talked about Alastair Cook the other day saying he deserves the fairy-tale ending. He has played 160 Test matches and has had to face a brand new Duke cricket ball against some of the best bowlers in the world for 12 years. He deserves that fairy-tale ending. Jimmy Anderson, on the flipside, a wonderful bowler, he is one of the best and facing him in the nets was an absolute nightmare. His wrist position, the way he swung the ball, he is wonderful. Is he the best? I don’t know.

“Best are the guys that did well in the sub-continent, did well in Australia. I think that is the mark of the best. But he is right up there, his numbers prove that.”

Kevin Pietersen spoke to talkSPORT following the news we have won the exclusive radio rights to England’s series in South Africa in 2019/20. You can listen to the full interview above.

England v Pakistan: Keaton Jennings replaces Mark Stoneman in squad for second Test

28 May
England v Pakistan: Keaton Jennings replaces Mark Stoneman in squad for second Test
Jennings made his last Test appearance almost 10 months ago

England have recalled Keaton Jennings in place of out-of-form opener Mark Stoneman for the second Test at Headingley.

The hosts announced the only change to a 12-man squad early on Monday morning, following their nine-wicket defeat against Pakistan at Lord’s.

Stoneman, short of runs for Surrey at the start of this summer, could muster just 13 in two innings in the first Test.

Twenty-five-year-old Jennings, who averaged 24.50 after the last of his six Tests almost 10 months ago – when he was replaced by Stoneman – has started his season well, hitting two Specsavers County Championship centuries already and averaging almost 44 for his new club Lancashire.

National selector Ed Smith said: “Keaton Jennings showed a strong temperament in scoring a hundred on his Test match debut against India in December 2016.

“Keaton has found good form in county cricket this season, including three centuries in his last seven innings (two in the First Division of the county championship, one in the Royal London Cup).”

Stoneman’s opening partnership with national all-time record runscorer Alastair Cook has become the least fruitful in England’s history, with a current output of less than 19 runs for each stand.

Smith said: “Mark Stoneman misses out at Emerald Headingley.

“Mark has experienced a disappointing start to the 2018 season and had a difficult Test match at Lord’s.”

England must win the second Test, which begins on Friday, to avoid series defeat.

– England squad (v Pakistan at Headingley, starting on June 1): JE Root (Captain), AN Cook, KK Jennings, DJ Malan, JM Bairstow (wkt), BA Stokes, JC Buttler, CR Woakes, DM Bess, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, MA Wood