Simmons stars on day of toil

England v West Indies
Lendl Simmons

Lendl Simmons guides through the off side in his mammoth innings of 171

England's Test bowling hopefuls were made to toil for scant reward as Lendl Simmons dominated the first day of the tourists’ final warm-up match.

Asked to bowl first, England struck just twice as Trinidadian duo Simmons and Adrian Barath weighed in with big hundreds, allowing West Indies A to close on a mammoth 343 for two at Warner Park.

Simmons led the way with an unbeaten 171 while 18-year-old Barath struck 132, putting on 262 for the second wicket.

If West Indies A choose to bat on, Simmons will resume 29 short of his career-best 200, with international batsman Sewnarine Chattergoon (24 not out) for company.

The second of two consecutive matches in St Kitts is effectively a bowl-off between James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison for places in the opening Test at Sabina Park starting on Wednesday.

But Anderson's seventh-over morning success was the only wicket to fall to any of England’s pacemen.

Anderson set a trap for attacking opener Kieran Powell and was rewarded when a pull travelled straight to Ian Bell at deep midwicket.

But Simmons, one of a handful of full West Indies internationals in the home side, took full advantage of the excellent batting pitch to reach his hundred from the first ball after tea.

Watch ECBtv's end of day report from St Kitts - as Ryan Sidebottom gets useful overs under his belt

Barath followed his lead in spectacular fashion five overs later by lofting Paul Collingwood for six.

Simmons, whose uncle Phil Simmons represented the Windies for a decade, was the more expansive of the second-wicket pair and, having launched a straight six off Graeme Swann during the morning session, continued to pepper the stands.

Off-spinner Swann was clouted for two sixes in an over and the same fate befell Collingwood soon afterwards.

Barath perished after surpassing his previous career-best 131 when he cut lazily to point in Kevin Pietersen's opening over.

England would have claimed a third wicket with the second new ball but wicketkeeper Matt Prior spurned a low chance off Anderson, when Simmons was on 159.

Left-hander Powell set the tone, hitting two boundaries in Anderson's opening over, which cost 10.

Ryan Sidebottom

Ryan Sidebottom went wicketless but bowled 13 overs in his first first-class match for six months

His opening partner Barath also registered an early boundary but it came in more fortuitous manner when an edge off Harmison flew the gap in the slip cordon.

Harmison also had an appeal for a catch in the slips turned down when a delivery of extra bounce clipped the shoulder of Barath.

Simmons' 76-ball fifty came shortly after the lunch interval via a cut off Swann, who had used the sea breeze to vary his flight flight impressively at the start of a 15-over spell.

It was during that period that the diminutive Barath, on 18, enjoyed a life via an inside-edge over the top of the stumps.

Barath's half-century came when he took advantage of a full delivery towards the end of Anderson's second spell and unfurled a cover drive for his eighth boundary.

Left-armer Sidebottom, playing his first first-class match in six months, was introduced in the 10th over and bowled 13 overs for an inexpensive 40.

Assistant coach Andy Flower suggested Sidebottom was in line for a Test recall should he come through this contest unscathed.

Meanwhile, all-rounder Andrew Flintoff spent the day running in a bid to return to fitness following a side strain.

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