Rain ensures draw

The First Test between England and West Indies ploughed to a forlorn draw in the gloom at Lord’s, just 20 overs possible on the final day due to rain and bad light. At the outset an interesting day was in prospect, even with a forecast of cloud and drizzle. West Indies required an unlikely 394 to win, but with a poor recent second-innings record England would have fancied their chances of taking the 10 wickets to force victory, even with a threadbare, and 3-man, attack.

But despite a prompt start, the first session lasted just half an hour, in which Stephen Harmison and Liam Plunkett showed little more incision than in the first-innings, before drizzle took the players from the field. The rain was never heavy but refused to abate and with every minute lost the chances of a result became less.

At 3:30, when the rain finally ceased, the players re-emerged, but by then the chances had receded to virtually zero. Harmison and Plunkett started again, and Panesar found time to bowl 3 overs, but the light was never good and after a deterioration around 4 o’clock the question was in the back of most people’s minds, and at 4:15 the Umpires offered light to the batsmen, who accepted. There was no improvement and despite a two-hour wait, in which almost all the few remaining spectators departed, the match was formally declared a draw at 5:50. The little cricket which was played had been mildly interesting – Chris Gayle as usual played plenty of strokes, some which connected well with the ball; some, especially against Liam Plunkett, which connected with nothing but thin air. His partner Daren Ganga looked in superb touch, barely playing a false stroke despite not-inconsiderable swing, and hit one tantalising cover-drive off Panesar just before the final weather intervention.

England will be disappointed after scenting victory with West Indies at 187 for 5 in reply to their first-innings 553 for 5, but will take comfort that at least this time their opponents fought their way back into the match. The corresponding game against Sri Lanka last summer, on the other hand, where catches were dropped at an alarming rate (and which eventually cost a series victory), was a perfect example of how to throw away the initiative. With the next game starting at Headingley in just four days’ time, nonetheless, and Matthew Hoggard extremely doubtful, the home team are the one with more to ponder, even with the prospect of the return of both their captain and their star all-rounder.

England 553-5d
Matt Prior 126 no, Paul Collingwood 111
Daren Powell 2-113, Dwayne Bravo 1-106

West Indies 437
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 74, Dinesh Ramdin 60
Monty Panesar 6-129, Liam Plunkett 2-107

England 284-8d
Kevin Pietersen 109, Alistair Cook 65
Corey Collymore 3-58, Chris Gayle 3-66

West Indies 89-0
Chris Gayle 47*

Match drawn

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