Keaton Jennings called for honesty from his England Lions players as they reflect on the lessons of an innings defeat by West Indies A at Sabina Park which leaves them 2-0 down in the three-match series.
After conceding a first-innings lead of 277, the Lions were all out for 260 just before the close of the third day, with none of their batsmen adding to Joe Clarke’s first-innings half century, even though six of the top seven made it into double figures.
The West Indies spinners again did most of the damage, with Rahkeem Cornwall claiming four for 88 and Jomel Warrican taking four for 69, giving the 25-year-old from St Vincent 12 for 103 in the match and 20 wickets for the series so far. He was again named man of the match.
“We have to be harsh and honest with ourselves, and try and pull our games forward,” said Jennings.
“We’re trying to make progress in international cricket, so we need to iron out those errors – have a hard look at ourselves as a batting unit and a bowling unit, and find solutions and methods to compete in these conditions. It’s great that we’re being given such a tough challenge by the West Indies players – that’s what you want on a Lions tour. Now we have to find some answers.
“We’ve had a lot of guys get in, but the West Indies guys have gone to hundreds and other 80s and 90s that have been game-changing contributions that have allowed them to put pressure on us. We haven’t done that - as a batting unit we have to make sure we stretch those periods of pressure."
“We’ve had a lot of guys get in, but the West Indies guys have gone to hundreds and other 80s and 90s that have been game-changing contributions that have allowed them to put pressure on us. We haven’t done that - as a batting unit we have to make sure we stretch those periods of pressure.
“There’s no point having your head down, you’ve got to pick yourself up and go again, and find ways in order to compete. We go to Antigua now, and there’s a lot to play for – it’s much more than consolation. We’re competing for England Lions. It’s always an honour to wear this shirt and to play a first-class game of cricket for the Lions. Stick your hand up, make a hundred, make a game-changing opportunity for yourself.”
The Lions had started the day 243 behind but with quiet optimism after Jennings and Haseeb Hameed survived 18 overs with few alarms on Monday evening.
But a moment of madness in the fourth over of the day undermined that solid start as Hameed was run out for 20 by a direct hit from Jeremiah Louis at cover.
Jennings followed seven overs later, lbw to Cornwall for 20 as he failed to make contact with one of his trademark reverse sweeps.
Clarke could not last long second time around, as he was bowled by a ball from the left-arm seamer Raymon Reifer which seemed to keep low.
Then Nick Gubbins, who was desperate to bounce back from a first innings golden duck and looked in good touch as he drove two off-side boundaries then hit a six over long on, fell again to the first ball he faced from Warrican, pinned lbw on the crease for 22.
Alex Davies also looked to play positively and hit four fours in making 21 from 36 balls, three of them off consecutive deliveries from Cornwall, until Warrican had him caught at silly mid-on – leaving the Lions tottering on 104 for five at lunch.
Liam Livingstone and Paul Coughlin then produced the substantial stand that had thus far been missing, frustrating spinners and seamers alike with a combination of watchful defence and efficiently punishing bad balls, with Coughlin hitting three sixes.
But half an hour before tea, after they had put on 83 in 27 overs, Livingstone fell for 48 from 121 balls, top-edging a sweep at Cornwall and well caught by Louis running back from square leg.
Toby Roland-Jones followed quickly, lbw to Cornwall, and Coughlin fell for 47 in the same manner in the fifth over after tea, in his case trying to sweep whereas Roland-Jones had been defending.
Mason Crane then joined Jack Leach in a ninth-wicket stand of 43, and they were shaping well enough to threaten to make West Indies bat again until Leach was bowled by Warrican for 29 from 77 balls.
Jamie Porter fell lbw to Warrican for a duck, leaving Crane unbeaten on 25 having also shaped well in the first innings.
He will now head home to England to prepare to rejoin the Test squad in New Zealand next month, leaving the Lions to choose from 14 in Antigua – with Dan Lawrence, Dom Bess, Saqib Mahmood and Richard Gleeson all hoping for their first action of the series.