West Indies v England Test LIVE: Visitors chip away

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Ben Stokes.

West Indies batted first in the opening Test against England in Barbados on Wednesday.

Windies openers John Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite added 53 for the first wicket before off-spinner Moeen Ali dismissed debutant Campbell who made a brisk 44.

Ben Stokes then took two quick wickets before Shai Hope scored a fifty. James Anderson removed Hope to reduce Windies to 174-4.

England preferred Sam Curran and Adil Rashid to Stuart Broad and Jack Leach. The selection represented a blow for Broad, who has now been left out for rising star Curran in three of England’s last four Tests after a decade as first-choice.

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Moeen wants to put things right in Barbados after 2015 disappointment

Rory Dollard 22/01/2019
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Moeen Ali.

Moeen Ali looks back on his last Test appearance in Barbados as the worst bowling performance of his England career and is ready to put things right this week.

The West Indies turned England over inside three days on their last visit to the Kensington Oval in 2015, securing an unexpected 1-1 draw along the way.

Moeen reflects unhappily on his own contribution to that match, a first day half-century offset by the ineffectiveness of his off-spin. Moeen leaked runs in both innings, took modest figures of two for 110 and failed to apply pressure in what should have been a nervy fourth-innings chase.

“I’ve bowled poorly a lot of times but that was probably the worst I ever bowled in an England shirt and I want to put that right,” he said.

“I’d just come back from injury, I was straight back into the side after the World Cup and I was the only spinner. I just bowled…bad.”

Moeen might easily have missed the tour entirely, having been left out of the original squad due to an abdominal complaint. Instead he was flown out for the final two Tests and appeared light on form, confidence or both.

Fast forward four years and his build-up to Wednesday’s first Test could not be more different. He played a central role in the 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka before Christmas, taking 18 wickets at 24.50 and is inked in to the XI while his fellow tweakers – slow left-armer Jack Leach and leg-spinner Adil Rashid – await a final assessment of the pitch.

Having thrived with a three-pronged spin attack in Sri Lanka, England had pondered dropping down to just one specialist, through the dry and dusty appearance of the surface on Monday seems likely to favour a second.

Importantly, though, Moeen is more than happy to go in alone if asked. In the past he has sought to avoid that spotlight, preferring to share his load and even casting himself as the ‘second spinner’ behind less experienced team-mates.

“To be honest I’m not too fussed about that any more. Maybe before I was, now I just try and focus on myself and if someone else plays I try to help them out as much as I can,” he said.

“I thought we all worked really well together in Sri Lanka but if the responsibility is on myself then I’m happy with it.

“I feel like for me to try and get better and think better of myself might improve me. I’ve got to do that rather than almost hide behind saying I’m a second spinner. I try and face it and deal with it.

“I feel like I’m at the best age now, I’m 31 and I’ve played quite a bit for England. I feel I am getting, as a spinner, towards my best.”

Moeen’s growing acceptance of his rightful place in the bowling attack, befitting of a man with 163 Test scalps to his name, comes at the same time as a realisation about his batting.

Way back in 2014 he carved out a stoic maiden century at Headingley, battling for six-and-a-half hours in a losing cause against the Sri Lankans.

He has since shuffled up and down the order at regular intervals, though his appearance at number three in Galle two months ago will almost certainly be his final outing in such a lofty position.

“At this particular time, this moment in my career, I don’t have the patience I used to,” he said.

“I did try to bat a long time, and it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but now I think I’m more use to the side coming in down the order. I do feel like we need a proper number three in England for the Ashes.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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England banking on Dukes ball advantage in West Indies Tests

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James Anderson.

England enter the three-Test series in the West Indies high on confidence, having defeated No1 India 4-1 at home and Sri Lanka 3-0 in their backyard last year.

England have most bases covered and should come out on top against Windies. Adding to their sense of confidence is the usage of specially designed Dukes balls during the West Indies series.

The West Indies board has decided to use a variant of the Dukes balls – which are used in England – for the home series as it helps fast bowlers in all conditions and provides movement in their air and off the pitch consistently.

The Englishmen have altered their gameplan after considering the amount of assistance the quicker men are expected to get in the series which begins in Barbados in Wednesday.

Pace spearhead James Anderson is looking forward to bowling with the special Dukes balls after being rendered ineffective during the Sri Lanka Test series.

“The Dukes ball has been moving around a bit and swung for quite a considerable amount of time throughout the warm-up game, so that’s encouragement,” Anderson said. “At least there’s a glimmer of hope for us seam bowlers. We’re hoping for a little bit – just a little bit – through the air and it keeps you interested in the game.

“It feels you can make an impact in the game. The minute you come out here and there’s that extra encouragement, it just makes you excited to bowl and look forward to playing, so hopefully that’s going to stay with us for the rest of the trip.”

England’s pace attack for the first Test is likely to be Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes with left-arm seamer Sam Curran providing support as the fourth seamer.

Interestingly, Curran has emerged as potentially the most important member of the attack after extracting the maximum movement on a consistent basis during the warm-up match.

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