Kieran Powell scores century for West Indies against England Lions
Amid paltry competition this was the West Indies' best day on tour so far. They may not avoid a defeat against the England Lions but some of their batsmen scored runs; there were no interruptions; it was merely chilly rather than freezing.
Kieran Powell, the 22-year-old opening batsman from the Leeward Islands, hit only the second century of his career. Two other left-handers, rather more familiar to us, Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, hit half-centuries. With the pitch turning a more benign brown, the Lions were much tamer. In fact, by the end of the day their muscular attack looked distinctly toothless.
Powell is a willowy left-hander, picked for six Tests so far more on his potential than because of the production of a vast quantity of runs. He is orthodox, a little flirtatious outside his off-stump, especially as he experiences alien conditions for the first time, and he has an easy swing of the bat. He batted for an invaluable five hours and ten minutes, learning all the while.
Powell was dropped on 17, a tough chance to Nick Compton at third slip off Matt Coles, and then proceeded to take full advantage. He cracked a Joe Root off-break almost as far as the press-box and there were 13 sweetly timed fours. In the end he was defeated by a quicker delivery from Samit Patel and was bowled attempting to cut.
Bravo may have looked more assured throughout a wicketless morning session, though he was dropped a couple of times, the easiest chance taking Root by surprise in the gully.
It was also a surprise to onlookers, as well as Bravo himself, when he was bowled by Jack Brooks just after lunch. Perhaps the batsman went too far to the off-side as the ball cannoned off bat and thigh-pad before striking the leg stump. The solitary consolation for Bravo may be that Brian Lara occasionally got out like this and Bravo likes to look like Lara.
Then Chanderpaul was Chanderpaul, facing the wrong way before shuffling into line and flicking the ball deftly either side of diving fieldsmen. He had cruised to 77 when he padded up to Stuart Meaker and was lbw.
In the final session two men likely to resume their Test careers, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin, made merry. By the close the West Indies led by 183 with two wickets remaining.
Of the Lions' seamers, Brooks was the most impressive. He bowls from close to the stumps and gives the ball a chance to move. He comfortably out-bowled Jade Dernbach, who wasted the second new ball and who received some severe treatment from Samuels late in the day.
The other two pacemen would not look amiss in a rugby front row. Neither has subtlety as their chief ally. Meaker bowled the briskest deliveries of the day, while Coles thundered in eagerly. He may look raw – he is raw – but then so was Andrew Flintoff at the age of 21.
In the evening sunshine Coles induced Samuels to mis-hook to mid-on. The ball had come off the surface quicker than Samuels anticipated. Coles did not look out of place in this company. Neither of the part-time spinners, Patel and Root, could have much impact. It would have been a good time for Simon Kerrigan to bowl.
In the day the tourists had cracked 349 runs, eager to play their shots and enjoy themselves.
This young side gives the impression that they head to Lord's with expectations low and morale high, which can be a dangerous combination. Not that their batsmen can be over-confident after one good day on tour. Moreover, on the evidence of yesterday there is a gulf between England's first-tier attack and their second.