It has been an eventful 10 days in the West Indies, and a week and a half the English camp will want to forget – a demoralising innings and 23 run defeat including a second innings slump of 51 all out; a test match in Antigua which lasted only 10 balls before it was abandoned and moved 50 miles into town; but finally, some good news, as the English top order ran the West Indies fielders ragged on the first day of the 2nd test, take two.

With only 48 hours to prepare a test ground, the Antigua Recreation Ground had their staff working round the clock to covert a football pitch to a cricket ground, a ground of records: the fastest ever Test hundred, Sir Vivian Richards smashing the English attack to all parts, with Brian Lara doing the same eight years later to the same opposition, scoring the then world Test record individual score of 375.

The pitch is often described as a ‘featherbed’ – a batsman’s paradise, a run scoring deck prepared to give the fielders a long, hard day in the Caribbean sun. Alistair Cook and captain Andrew Strauss did just this, accumulating a tidy 86 – 0 at lunch, adding another 36 in the second session before Cook was caught brilliantly at slip for 51. Owais Shah, replacing Ian Bell at number 3 set his stall out immediately smashing his first ball for four, before belligerently cutting and driving his way to a more than impressive half century. Meanwhile, Strauss nudged and nurdled, pulled and drove onto 99, flicking Powell to square leg for two to bring up his 15th test century, and perhaps his most important. After the furore of Jamaica and the fiasco up the road at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium his innings of 169 – finally caught and bowled off Fidel Edwards at the very end of the day – has set the foundation for a 2nd day onslaught.

The day closed at 313 – 3, Shah running himself out on 59, with Pietersen a vigilant 8 not out. The hosts looked tired, the seamers un-penetrating and spinners ineffective, day two might be another day of chasing the ball to all parts. Strauss’ England need to keep their feet on the proverbial pedal and chase down the mental milestone of 500, before the new, and hopefully improved seam attack have a go at the in-form, run hungry Windies batting order.

Windies swelter in Antiguan sun