11 July 2024

Jamie Smith shines as England secure big first-innings lead against West Indies

11 July 2024

Jamie Smith became the second debutant in as many days to make their mark for England, with a punchy half-century helping his side to a 250-run lead in the first Test against the West Indies.

After fellow newcomer Gus Atkinson claimed seven wickets in the first innings at Lord’s, Smith introduced himself with a sparkling knock of 70 as England made 371 all out.

Smith, fast-tracked as the side’s new wicketkeeper-batter ahead of 100-cap veteran Jonny Bairstow and his own Surrey team-mate Ben Foakes, hit eight fours and two big sixes in an innings that showed the kind of dynamism the selectors want at number seven.

He was one of five players to reach 50, following Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root and Harry Brook, as England built a formidable position against opponents who had been knocked over for 121.

The 23-year-old proved he could go through the gears, building a solid base while he had Root and Chris Woakes for company before showcasing a more expansive side when joined by the tail. His second six, thrashed over the roof of Tavern Stand and out of the ground, oozed confidence.

Indeed, he only put a foot wrong right at the end of his stay – caught in the deep before last man James Anderson had faced a single delivery in what could be his final bat after 21 years of Test cricket.

England were already on solid footing at the start of the day, 68 ahead on 189 for three. With sunny skies and serene batting conditions they made a lively start as Root and Brook piled on 42 in the first half-hour.

At one stage Root helped himself to four boundaries in nine deliveries, while Brook hammered Shamar Joseph for six over midwicket on his way to a 55-ball half-century. His enthusiasm got the better of him soon after, going for another big swipe against Alzarri Joseph and spraying a top edge straight into Josh Da Silva’s gloves.

The end of the Yorkshire duo’s 91-run stand briefly invigorated the tourists, who added two more wickets as left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie produced a pair of brilliant dismissals.

The arrival of the left-handed Ben Stokes allowed him to make use of the bowlers’ footmarks and he did so in style, ripping one sharply out of the rough to take out middle stump.

Motie had less to work with against the right-handers but still did enough to outfox a well-set Root on 68, sneaking one past the outside edge and into the top of off.

The lead was still spiralling though, with 104 runs in the morning session, and Smith getting off the mark in Test cricket by slapping a drag down past mid-on for four. Twelve of his first 16 runs came in boundaries but he was measured as he joined Woakes in a solid stand worth 52.

He came out of his shell when the lower order came in, showing an acceleration that Foakes struggled to find during his own tenure in the side. Stepping away and giving himself room to swing for the fences he added 28 off his last 30 balls.

For the West Indies there was a champagne moment in the field, Mikyle Louis running out Shoaib Bashir with an outstanding direct hit before celebrating deliriously with a sprint around the ground.

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