England vs West Indies 1st Test: Rain allows only 17.4 overs on cricket’s return
The dark clouds that hung over Southampton on Wednesday ensured the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) attempt to resume international cricket began on a damp note, making only 17.4 overs possible in which the hosts reached 35/1.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 23:34 IST
On the back of a four-month wait, what is a three-hour delay of start due to rain? Nothing more than a hiccup. Better still, it could be the English summer’s way of reacquainting itself with cricket. That was the story from the Ageas Bowl on the first day of England’s first Test against West Indies. The dark clouds that hung over Southampton on Wednesday ensured the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) attempt to resume international cricket began on a damp note, making only 17.4 overs possible in which the hosts reached 35/1.
It was not entirely a damp squib though.
Already hitting the right notes across the cricket world for not only ending a long pandemic-enforced hiatus but also having the players proudly wear the ‘Black lives matter’ logo on their jerseys, the series also stood witness to one of the most powerful opinions on racism from Michael Holding.
“The dehumanisation of the black race is where it (racism) all started and people will say ‘Oh, that’s a long time ago. Get over it.’ No you don’t get over things like that…We have been brainwashed in different ways. The white people have been brain washed in different ways. Think about religion. The image that they give of Jesus Christ - pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. Where Jesus came from, who in that part of the world looks that way? Again, that’s brain washing to show ‘this is what perfection is’. If you see in plays of those days, Judas who betrayed Jesus is a black man. Again brainwashing people to think he is a black man, he is a bad man. I remember my school days. I have never been taught anything good about black people. History is written by people who do the harm, not by people who get harmed. We should go back and teach both sides of history. Until we educate human race this will not stop,” said the former West Indies fast bowler on Sky Sports.
Holding’s feelings translated into action few minutes later when players of both teams took a knee after holding a minute’s silence in memory of Sir Everton Weekes and those who died in the COVID-19 pandemic. West Indies players were seen raising a gloved fist. Umpires Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth too joined them.
After a highly emotional prelude to a much-awaited series, it was time for the pacers to take centre-stage in overcast conditions. The pace attack of both teams has been much talked about and it was West Indies’ chance to set the ball rolling.
It took them only 10 deliveries to inflict the first damage. After a few wayward looseners, Shannon Gabriel steamed in to bring the ball back into England opener Dom Sibley, who chose to shoulder arms to the ball, only to watch it take the top of off-stump and send him packing for a duck.
From the other end, Kemar Roach, seven shy of reaching 200 Test wickets, used all his experience to keep the line tight and make batting uncomfortable for the English batsmen. With moisture in the air, the pacers got all the help that they needed. Roach gave just one run in his first five overs. But rain kept playing spoilsport till umpires called stumps just after 6pm local time.
To the credit of England’s other opener Rory Burns and No. 3 Joe Denly, they steadied the ship after the early dismissal. After his early breakthrough, Gabriel was guilty of spraying the line in search of pace. Alzarri Joseph and captain Jason Holder too bowled but didn’t get much time to find rhythm. Only 82 minutes of play was possible on Day 1. But since this is Test cricket, and there are still four days to make up for the lack of play.