Only 82 minutes and 17.4 overs were possible as rain wrecked the opening day of the first Test of the historic “bio-secure” series at Ageas Bowl on Wednesday, ruining high expectations after weeks of anticipation.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and global race protests providing the ideal stage for the series, players frustratingly spent most of the day trudging on and off the field on England’s south coast, as the unpredictable weather played havoc forcing three rain interruptions.
Perhaps the only highlight of an otherwise humdrum day was when speedster Shannon Gabriel forced opener Dom Sibley to shoulder arms in a moment of horrific misjudgement, spectacularly hitting his off-stump in the second over without a run on the board.
After that, left-handed opener Rory Burns plodded around for an unbeaten 20 while Joe Denly finished on 14 not out as England reached 35 without further loss before the last rain break at 4:27 pm (11:27 Eastern Caribbean time) forced players from the field for the final time.
Assistant coach Roddy Estwick said afterwards West Indies had not exploited their time in the field as best as they could have.
“Obviously 17 overs is not a long time in a day in a Test match. We had discussions at the various breaks and there are one or two things that we can do differently and there are one or two things we will try to put into practice tomorrow,” Estwick told media.
“Obviously it’s the first time we’re playing a Test match for a very long time so yes, we got a wicket but we think we can bowl a little bit better, we can bowl a little bit fuller and those are the areas we’ll be trying to work on tomorrow.”
Persistent drizzles had wiped out the first session, delaying the toss until 1:30 pm before play got underway at 2 pm, with both West Indies and England players taking the knee in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
With one hand cloaked in a black glove, the Windies players knelt for 30 seconds along with their English counterparts, invoking a pensive mood over the proceedings.
And Gabriel wasted little time in making the early breakthrough for West Indies in his first Test in 10 months when he brought one back to hit Sibley’s off-stump.
Only another over was possible before rain arrived with England on one for one and when the restart came nearly half-hour later, only seven balls were possible before the adverse weather drove players from the field again.
Though the break lasted 40 minutes, Burns and Denly appeared unfazed by the interruption, remaining compact while also cashing in with boundaries off both Gabriel and seamer Alzarri Joseph.
Burns clipped Gabriel to the mid-wicket fence in the sixth over for the day’s first boundary while Denly thrashed the same bowler in his next over behind point for another four.
Denly also pulled Gabriel confidently through mid-on for his second boundary before enjoying a slice of luck off the very next delivery when he edged through a vacant fourth slip.
The game was wandering when the rains arrived, forcing the tea interval and also bringing a premature end to the day’s play.