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Page last updated at 22:38 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Windies batsmen make England toil

First Test, Kingston (day two, close):
England 318 v West Indies 160-1

By Paul Fletcher

Chris Gayle (left) scores off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff
Gayle (left) played a mature innings as he finished unbeaten on 71

West Indies finished the second day of the first Test in Jamaica on 160-1 to trail by 158 runs as England's bowlers struggled to make an impact.

Chris Gayle (71) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (74), who had a lbw decision overturned after a referral, dominated after the early loss of Devon Smith.

The opener fell after Andrew Flintoff had a not out decision reversed in one of five referrals to the third umpire.

England had added 82 to their overnight 236-5, with Matt Prior scoring 64.

The Test match is the first involving England during which the trial referral system has been used - and it played a key role in the day's play.

The referrals came in clusters, with two towards the end of the England innings and three early in the West Indies reply - and with each decision taking several minutes it threatened to affect the flow of the day's play.

Ryan Sidebottom, playing his first Test since last summer, and Monty Panesar both failed with their referral decisions after they had been given out lbw towards the end of England's innings.


England had more luck with Smith, who was initially given not out after he completely lost a Flintoff delivery that struck him low on the pad at the start of the Windies reply.

The decision was sent up to third umpire Daryl Harper and after a lengthy delay the opener was on his way.

Another referral by England, this time against Sarwan, was unsuccessful but the batsman was later given out lbw to Harmison.

Sarwan, however, referred the decision upstairs and after yet another lengthy delay, Harper gave the batsman a reprieve, presumably on the basis of height.

The referral system was starting to dominate proceedings and Stuart Broad wanted it used again just before tea.

The bowler had a strong shout for lbw against Sarwan turned down but his hope of a referral was overruled by captain Andrew Strauss.

Each side has two referrals per innings, with one taken away for each unsuccessful appeal - and with only one remaining and nine West Indies wickets in hand, Strauss was clearly not prepared to gamble.

But there was precious little opportunity for England to contest any decisions in the final session of the game as the home team took control.

Flintoff and the disappointing Panesar bowled a series of maidens after tea as play resumed at a sluggish pace.

England wait for a referral decision
England's players wait for yet another referral decision

Panesar occasionally went past Sarwan's outside edge but he struggled to obtain the bounce and turn so often found by Windies spinner Sulieman Benn.

Sarwan started to find his touch while Gayle continued to play the odd huge shot and the two players brought up the 100 partnership with relative ease.

Each reached their half centuries despite the slow outfield, while Strauss eventually turned to Kevin Pietersen as he attempted to break the partnership.

England's bowling looked pedestrian, none more so than Panesar, who went into the match under scrutiny after a disappointing tour of India.

He did little to assuage his critics with 0-44 in 15 overs, while Broad and Harmison also failed to trouble the batsman.

Sidebottom had opened the bowling but he was sparsely used, bowling just two spells, as Gayle and Sarwan put on an unbroken 142.

England had started the day on 236-5 and hopeful of still compiling a decent total, but lost wickets at regular intervals, with Flintoff the first to go in just the third over of the day having failed to add to his overnight 43.

After such a diligent, watchful innings on Wednesday, the all-rounder tried to cut a short and wide delivery from Daren Powell but only succeeded in looping the ball into the arms of Brendan Nash at point.

Powell and Jerome Taylor bowled a probing fullish length and the latter eventually tempted Broad to edge a delivery to Benn in the gully.

Prior continued to impress, playing a series of punchy drives, and deservedly reached his sixth Test match half century before he was caught and bowled by Benn as he tried to drive forcefully down the track.

Sidebottom, who finished undefeated on 26, looked to score whenever possible but should have been caught after spooning a pull to mid-on.

Ramnaresh Sarwan (left) and Chris Gayle
England could not part Sarwan and Gayle, who put on an unbroken 142

However, the ball slipped through Shivnarine Chanderpaul's hands and Sidebottom and Harmison saw out the morning session, with the visitors reaching 311-8 at lunch.

Harmison was trapped lbw by a full delivery off Taylor shortly after the restart and his subsequent referral failed.

The end of the innings came quickly, but not before Panesar also used the referral system after he was adjudged lbw to Benn, who finished with 4-77.

Panesar felt that he had hit the ball - and indeed he had but not before it had struck his pad.

England had added just seven since lunch for the loss of their final two wickets but the entertainment levels briefly went through the roof at the start of the West Indies innings.

Gayle drove Flintoff for a huge six off the fast bowler's second delivery. Flintoff smirked as he walked back to his mark and responded with a searing bouncer and a ball that struck Gayle painfully on the hand.

It hinted at an entertaining afternoon's play but the Windies steady if uninspiring accumulation of runs against England's blunt attack was the true story of the day.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
06 Feb 09 |  England
Referral system causes confusion
06 Feb 09 |  England
Pietersen knock steadies England
04 Feb 09 |  England
Pietersen defends shot selection
04 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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