Prior shines as England dominate

Matthew Prior, on debut, was one of four England batsmen to hit centuries as they reached 553-5 against West Indies.

It was a day of dominance by England’s batsmen, just two wickets fell, and 353 runs were added in the 86 overs that were able to be played.

West Indies though, started well, and couldn have put themselves in a strong position. Alistair Cook added just three to his overnight 102, cutting to point. From there Collingwood and Bell added a stand of 144, but Collingwood was given three lives. On 31 he sliced to gully, where Darren Ganga shelled a simple chance, Asad Rauf turned down a stone-dead lbw as he padded up, and Jerome Taylor lost one in the sky and made a fool of himself on the square leg boundary.

Given these chances, Collingwood made the most of them. It has been what we’ve gotten to know well from him, lots of working through the leg side, lots of bottom hand, substance over style. It may not have been as pleasing on the eye as some, but it was mighty effective, and his fourth Test century.

This brought debutant Matthew Prior to the crease, England’s new keeper, with a chance to cement his place. He took it. He became the first English wicketkeeper to score a century on Test debut, and scored more runs than Chris Read and Geraint Jones combined did against Australia last winter.

It was a dominant innings, exactly what was needed as England piled on the runs for a declaration. Boundaries were struck authoratively on both sides of the wicket, a powerful cover drive with a huge stride and a thumping pull were two trademarks of the innings.

He finished unbeaten on 126 from 128 balls, despatching the West Indian bowlers with ease. Poor light meant he was facing the likes of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle for a while, but they still needed to be put away.

Of course there was another centurion in the England line-up, but Ian Bell’s unbeaten 109 was overshadowed by Prior’s efforts. Still, it was a fine innings, he cut and drove very well, in his fourth century at number six. To say he took a back seat to Prior would be an understatement, he was on 59 when Prior came in, but the debutant beat him to three figures.

If the light had been better, we probably would have seen West Indies batting late today. As it was England had little choice but to carry on, as while they were happy to bat on, the West Indian openers would most likely have been offered the light, had they been batting, which would have been taken with no hesitation. An overnight declaration is now expected, probably giving England enough time to bowl West Indies out twice, unless there is a significant rain delay.

England 553-5
Matthew Prior 126*, Paul Collingwood 111, Ian Bell 109*
Daren Powell 2-113

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