Rain frustrates England's quest to level West Indies series

By: AFP      Published: 05:05 PM, 18 Jul, 2020
Rain frustrates England's quest to level West Indies series
England's Sam Curran carries an umbrella as he walks past the covers as rain delays start of play on the third day of the second Test between England and the West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester. AFP

Ben Stokes admitted England had their work cut out to draw level with the West Indies as rain threatened to wash out the whole of the third day's play in the second Test at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Persistent rain left the pitch and square fully covered when play should have been getting underway at 11:00 am (1000 GMT), with England looking to square a three-match campaign at 1-1.

Star all-rounder Stokes top-scored with 176 on Friday and shared a partnership of 260 for the fourth wicket with opener Dom Sibley, who made a painstaking 120, as England piled up 469-9 declared after being sent into bat.

"It's not ideal, turning up today with the weather around," Stokes told Sky Sports on Saturday. "It's looking like we'll have to take 19 wickets in two days. But the wicket has offered something throughout the whole Test so far, so we just need to make sure we can expose that. And we know that once we get on a roll, anything is possible with the bowling attack we have."

Before Friday's close, Sam Curran had John Campbell lbw, with West Indies set to resume on 32-1. England are looking to bounce back after a four-wicket loss in the first Test at Southampton last week in a campaign that marks international cricket's return from the coronavirus lockdown.

Stokes is a member of a revamped bowling unit, with England resting seamers James Anderson and Mark Wood. But they dramatically found themselves without Jofra Archer for this match when the express quick was omitted for a breach of the bio-secure regulations governing the series.

'Never nice losing'

Stokes found himself captaining England at Southampton after regular skipper Joe Root missed the first Test to attend the birth of his second child.

"It's never nice losing a Test match," said Stokes, with the West Indies bidding for their first series win in England for 32 years. "But I enjoyed the whole process of being captain for the five days. It was obviously different to what I'm normally used to, but driving to Manchester knowing that Rooty has got the blazer back, I was pretty happy. That doesn't take away from the fact that I enjoyed my time doing it. I'll look back on it with fond memories, but I've got the worst win percentage rate among England captains."

Defeat continued a worrying trend for England, who have now lost the opening Test in eight of their last 10 series. But, most recently, they came from 1-0 down in South Africa earlier this year to win a four-match series 3-1.

"I don't know really (why England are slow starters)," said Stokes. "We obviously speak about our cricket a lot and the more consistent we can be, the better we are going to be as a side. We want to use these first two days as a benchmark going forward of how we want to bat.”

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