Onions follows Swann's lead
Graeme Swann shone with bat and ball and Graham Onions marked his debut with a five-wicket haul as a rampant England seized control of the opening npower Test against West Indies.
Off-spinner Swann registered his maiden Test half-century to propel the hosts to 377, then claimed three scalps in quick succession to undermine West Indies’ reply on the second day at Lord’s.
If Swann, with the help of Stuart Broad, made the early inroads into an alarming fragile batting line-up, Onions delivered the coup de grace by wrapping up the second half of the West Indies innings.
They were hustled out for a paltry 152 in just 32.3 overs and it came as little surprise when England captain Andrew Strauss asked them to follow on.
They fared little better at the second attempt, reaching 39 for two before bad light forced an early close. Trailing by 186, defeat seems a near certainty.
New boy Onions removed Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor and Sulieman Benn in one sensational over, and followed that up by trapping Denesh Ramdin lbw during a blistering post-tea spell that yielded four wickets in seven balls.
He also ended a frustrating last-wicket partnership between Lionel Baker and Fidel Edwards to finish with sensational figures of 5-38.
It said much for England’s almost complete dominance that their grip on this game could have been even tighter had they not dropped two catches and made a hash of an easy run-out opportunity late in the West Indies first innings.
Conditions may have been in the seamers’ favour, and there was hardly an abundance of application from the visiting batsmen, but that should not detract from the ruthlessness shown by Onions, in particular.
He was rewarded for maintaining an attacking off-stump line from close to the stumps, and surely cannot have dreamed of such an inspirational performance when he was awarded his Test cap yesterday morning.
Though Chris Gayle, who has only recently returned from Indian Premier League duty, appeared to be in Twenty20 mode as he raced to 28 courtesy of six fours, he played on attempting to force Broad off the back foot.
Ramnaresh Sarwan scored at quicker than a run a ball before he too fell to Broad, caught behind via a bottom edge chasing a delivery which kept a touch low.
Swann, who had earlier taken the new ball with no success, struck with the first delivery of his second spell, bowling Devon Smith through the gate as the left-hander lunged forward. He had made 46 off 50 balls without ever looking entirely comfortable.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul followed seconds later, drawn into a leaden-footed prod to a full-length ball from around the wicket which turned, took the outside edge and was smartly taken by Paul Collingwood at slip.
The same combination did for Brendan Nash, albeit courtesy of a more aggressive stroke and even sharper catch, before Onions took centre stage.
He found extra bounce from short of a length to find Lendl Simmons’ edge, saw Taylor glove an attempted pull to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, and induced an indeterminate back-foot waft from Sulieman Benn which found a diving Swann at third slip.
Ramdin survived a tough chance to Tim Bresnan at gully, only to fall playing back to Onions, and left-handed Baker’s spirited resistance came to an end when he took failed to get forward to a delivery which nipped back.
It was a sorry end to a miserable innings, and the pattern continued when West Indies batted again as Gayle edged James Anderson to third slip before Sarwan played on to the same bowler to leave England in complete control.
Earlier, Swann converted his overnight seven into a rapid unbeaten 63, dominating the scoring on the second morning as England, resuming on 287 for nine, were bowled out shortly after lunch.
Swann’s innings was the highlight of a profitable first session which saw the hosts add 88 runs for the loss of only Ravi Bopara for 143, but Edwards claimed the remaining two wickets within the first three balls after lunch to return fine figures of 6-92.
It was a measure of Swann’s fluency that he comfortably outscored Bopara either side of a 15-minute stoppage for bad light, comfortably surpassing his previous highest score in Tests - 20 not out against the same opponents on the recent tour of the Caribbean.
Swann brought up a 73-ball half-century by pulling Baker over square-leg for six, but he lost Bopara - his partner in an eight-wicket stand of 93 - courtesy of a tame drive to cover off Taylor. He had added 25 to his overnight 118.
Swann went in at lunch with 63 to his name, but he did not get the opportunity to add to his account as Edwards found Anderson’s outside edge and bowled Onions with successive deliveries immediately after the resumption.
It was as good as it got for West Indies.