An embarrassing blunder from Ben Stokes has summed up England’s nightmare against the West Indies, with the Poms slumping to a four-wicket loss in the first Test.
The West Indies beat England on the final day of the first international Test since the coronavirus break, taking a 1-0 lead at the Ageas Bowl in a three-Test series thanks to a 95-run knock by Jermaine Blackwood.
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England made early inroads into the West Indies batting lineup on Sunday as the visitors targeted 200 to win, reducing them to 3-27 before Blackwood began to set the foundations for a big win for the Caribbean side, albeit behind closed doors.
However England let themselves down with their fielding, dropping a number of catches and muffing a possible runout.
And stand-in skipper Stokes summed up their woes with a baffling blunder at first slip.
With Blackwood on just 5, Stokes tried to anticipate where the ball was heading when the batsman shaped up for a cut shot.
Stokes took off to his right to premeditate the path of the ball, only to be left with egg on his face as Blackwood got a thick edge straight past where Stokes had been stationed.
Aussie cricket writer Geoff Lemon described the moment as “real commitment by the new captain to comedy cricket ideals.”
Ben Stokes running out of the way of a catch and falling over – that's a real commitment by the new captain to the comedy cricket ideals that @LiebCricket expects of England. pic.twitter.com/SpkAZInDBV— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) July 12, 2020
Others were also gobsmacked, with some saying they’d never seen anything like it.
I don't think I've seen a slip fielder do what Ben stokes just did there 🙈🤭#ENGvWI— Ryan's अड्डा (@RyanChadha) July 12, 2020
Ben Stokes just made a fool of himself in the slips. How do you premeditate a catch? I hope he rues that!#ENGvWI— Njabulo Kunene (@Jus_Njaps) July 12, 2020
Jofra Archer heroics not enough for England
When opener John Campbell retired hurt following a toe-crushing yorker from Jofra Archer, Blackwood came in before lunch and began to anchor the innings, sharing a 73-run stand with Roston Chase (37).
“It was a nerve-wracking start after losing quick three wickets and Campbell to injury,” Windies captain Jason Holder told BBC.
“But Roston and Jermaine put on a good partnership and settled the nerves. From there we could build on.
“I missed the Barmy Army but it was a level playing field without the crowds. It's been a good start back to international cricket, it sets the series up quite nicely.”
The Barbados-born Archer, who finished with 3-45, troubled the batsmen throughout with his pace and bounce but England were unable to dismiss the danger man Blackwood.
In the end the 28-year-old Jamaican narrowly missed out on his second Test century when he tried to lift a Stokes delivery over the infield, only to gift James Anderson a catch.
Campbell then returned to the crease with West Indies six wickets down to join Holder, who played a patient knock of 14 off 36 balls, to guide the West Indies home in the final session.