Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of this, the third day of the first Test between Ben Stokes’ England and Jason Holder’s West Indies. In the countless battles within the war that Test match cricket provides, it is firmly Stokes 0-1 Holder after Thursday’s events in the first #raisethebat Test at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
Events which seemed all too familiar for England fans. Holder, ably assisted by the slightly-more-erratic Shannon Gabriel gave England the combine harvester treatment, ploughing through the top order and making short work of the tail in emphatic fashion; the West Indies captain finished the day with career-best figures of six for 42 as England posted a meagre first-innings total of 204.
But let’s not dwell on the past. The destiny of this match is still in England’s hands, despite the visitors’ leap into pole position. If England can flourish with the ball today, albeit in better conditions for batting – the forecast is much-improved and we should get a fully day of cricket – then it will be game on as we head into the Saturday, the penultimate day. Jimmy Anderson might have provided England’s much-needed spark late last night, when he dismissed West Indies’ opener, John Campbell.
Skittling through this West Indies batting line-up will be easier said than done, however, especially with Holder in this mood. He showed no signs of abating or taking his foot off the gas last night, as he warned England he wanted a century with the bat to top up his excellence with the ball.
With the West Indies trailing by 147, England need no reminding of the damage the 6ft 7in all-rounder can do with the bat if the mood takes him – having been on the receiving end of his unbeaten 202 in Barbados last year.
“I have done a good job so far in the first innings but my Test is far from over,” he said.
“I’ve ticked one box so far, now it’s left to me to knuckle down and get a hundred. It’s a proud moment getting six wickets in England, anything to help this team, but my role is to contribute with bat and ball. I really want to make some runs now. I have a massive contribution to make with the bat.”
An intriguing day in store, then.