England in West Indies: Ben Stokes & Jos Buttler put tourists in promising position


England are already 2-0 down in the three-match series
Third Test, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia (day one of five)
England 231-4 (Stokes 62, Buttler 67, Paul 2-42)
West Indies Yet to bat

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler put England in a promising position after more top-order troubles on day one of the third Test against West Indies.

England fell to 69-3 but an unbeaten 62 from Stokes and 67 not out from Buttler saw them close on 231-4 in St Lucia.

The pair put on 124 – England’s first century partnership of the series – as they dominated the evening session.

Stokes was reprieved on 52 when he was caught and bowled by Alzarri Joseph but replays showed it was a no-ball.

The England all-rounder had already left the field by the time the decision was confirmed and unusually he had to return from the dressing room to resume his innings – only permitted since a law change in 2017.

West Indies have already clinched the series, after crushing victories in the first two Tests, but England’s best batting display so far in the Caribbean gives them a chance of setting up a consolation win.

Stokes and Buttler stand up

England’s highest score in the series so far is 246 all out in the first Test

England’s batsmen have been a major disappointment in this series with just one total of more than 200 in their four innings before this game.

With the team’s new-look top three all dismissed with only 69 runs on the board, and captain Joe Root out for 15 on the stroke of tea leaving the score 107-4, there were fears of yet another low score.

Buttler looked nervous at first, slashing at a full delivery and being dropped at second slip on nought, but grew into his innings.

He batted maturely with few loose shots after his frantic start and then scored more of his trademark boundaries late in the day.

Stokes, meanwhile, played with controlled aggression from the outset. He quickly overtook Buttler’s score and was first to reach his fifty – only England’s fourth of the series.

Stokes seemed to time the ball better than any of his team-mates. He also batted at what looked a more natural pace than the conservative approach he has adopted in his 12 Tests since returning to the team after being arrested outside a Bristol nightclub.

His one moment of fortune came in the evening session when he hit a pull shot straight back to the bowler Joseph, who took a smart reaction catch.

Under previous laws Stokes would not have been able to return to the crease once he had left the field but, on this occasion, once the no-ball was called Stokes returned from the dressing room, collected his gloves and helmet from the boundary edge and resumed his innings to loud cheers from the England fans.

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