Taylor to the fore as Lions dominate
Captain James Taylor’s 118 put England Lions in control against West Indies at Wantage Road.
Taylor shared a century stand for the sixth wicket with Jonny Bairstow, who contributed 50 and was then last out after adding another 130 with the last three batsmen - including 64 alongside number 11 Jade Dernbach.
More than once, at 98 for five and even 211 for seven, West Indies threatened to stay in contention on day two of four. But each time, the pressure faded through a combination of Taylor’s resourcefulness in a 157-ball century, and the tourists’ inability to consolidate.
They, therefore, conceded a mammoth first-innings deficit of 194 - and after stumbling to 28 for three at the close, it was hard to see how they could head to Lord’s next week without a defeat against their name already.
The Lions progressed to 92 for two this morning, only to lose three wickets for six runs shortly before lunch as the ball continued to seam and swing - though not so much as under yesterday’s leaden skies.
After Nick Compton appeared to be beaten for pace, losing his off-bail on the defence to Kemar Roach, Ian Bell and Michael Carberry began to prosper.
But Ravi Rampaul, who had bowled disappointingly from the Lynn Wilson End last night, switched to replace Fidel Edwards with the pavilion behind him - and was soon in the wickets.
He had Carberry edging to first slip, on the back foot, to begin the Lions' mini-collapse and then put himself on a hat-trick at the start of his next over when he bemused Bell with a delivery which had the look of an outswinger only to hold its line and bowl the Warwickshire man between bat and pad.
The bowler deserved plenty of credit for those two successes, but when Samit Patel chipped a check-drive straight back to Shane Shillingford, the Windies had a bonus wicket.
Taylor and Bairstow were subsequently brought together with just a single between them.
After lunch, assured batting from each served the Lions well - Taylor pulling and deflecting expertly and Bairstow presenting a fuller face for seven boundaries in a half-century scored at a marginally quicker tempo than his partner’s.
Yet just when it seemed the hosts were about to put themselves out of sight, Bairstow mis-timed a drive at Shillingford straight into the hands of mid-off and Roach bowled Matt Coles for a duck with a useful delivery slanted across the left-hander.
Taylor did not panic, and received manful support from Stuart Meaker, Jack Brooks and, most of all, Dernbach.
The Windies, led by Kirk Edwards in the rested Darren Sammy’s absence, did not always help themselves - emphasised by 17 no-balls in the innings - while Marlon Samuels gave Taylor and Meaker easy breathing space with a solitary over of off-spin that donated 11 runs.
Taylor remained composed throughout, battling impressively with numbers nine and 10 and then - after reaching his century with his 10th four, crashed past cover off Rampaul in the first over with the second new ball - he and Dernbach set about piling further frustration on the tourists.
Edwards would have ended the anguish on 309, with Taylor on 104, had he not overstepped again with a delivery which found the outside edge and was neatly caught at slip.
The fast bowler had already taken some of his frustration out with a series of short balls at Dernbach, one of which struck the tailender a painful blow on his right forearm and would later stop him taking the new ball.
Roach had limped off after having Brooks caught behind - and it was Edwards who eventually ended the innings, Taylor surprised to be given out in anti-climactic circumstances, caught behind down the leg-side.
Without Dernbach to help him open the bowling for the Lions, Brooks duly pinned Adrian Barath and number three Kirk Edwards lbw to take his match haul to five wickets on his home ground.
Coles then chipped in with the wicket of nightwatchman Fidel Edwards to round off a successful day for the hosts.