The umbrellas were in demand more than the umpires’ counters to count the deliveries. The first day of the first Test between England and the West Indies did not go as expected, for rains and dark light frequently stopped play at an empty Rose Bowl. But, there was some cricket in between.
Within ten minutes of play, in the second over, opener Dominic Sibley, after promptly leaving the away-going deliveries of Shannon Gabriel, let go another one, which, to his surprise, came in and knocked the top of his off-stump. West Indies had struck and England were one down for 0. Their batsmen needed to dig in to play out the new ball, Rory Burns and Joe Denly by facing 55 and 48 deliveries respectively, just did that.
The two batsmen held their nerves, while the four-seamers of West Indies tested their resolve with the new ball bowling. Kemar Roach was the one to stand out by bowling four maiden overs. At stumps, the score was 35-1 (17.4 overs) of which 24 runs came from boundaries.
The toss was unusual, not because England opted to bat, but because there was no one to interview both the captains. They stood alongside Chris Broad, the referee and in front of a camera to answer questions from the commentary box. A new normal! Between Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad, the 81st captain of England, Ben Stokes went with the former. While, his counterpart, Jason Holder, was ‘not disheartened with bowling first’.
Earlier in the day, to observe a minute’s silence in memory of both the victims of COVID-19 and the passing of West Indies great Sir Everton Weekes, the players assembled in a semi-circle in the middle. Later, just before the first ball, they took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter movement.
Apart from early lunch and early tea, very little cricket happened in Southampton. The weather forecasts a cricket-friendly phase over the next four days. If that happens, 98 overs will be bowled in a day for the rest of the duration in this Test.
Featured image credits: The Australian