West Indies v England: Tentative England still in driving seat

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
James Tredwell bats
England's batting display on day two bore all the hallmarks of a team low on confidence, says Jonathan Agnew

England are still in a strong position after day two of the first Test against the West Indies.

After reaching 399 in their first innings, they reduced the hosts to 155-4 in reply.

With the new ball due before lunch on day three [Wednesday], it's perfectly possible they could bowl West Indies out quite cheaply and have a healthy first-innings lead to build on. So I'd much rather be in the England dressing-room at the moment.

However, that only tells half the story of a rather frustrating day for England that saw them squander some of the advantage gained on a dominant first day through tentative cricket.

The end of the England innings was a disappointment. They probably scored 100 runs fewer than they would have wanted to get after ending day one in such a strong position on 341-5.

West Indies bowled well, but England's lack of resistance was poor. Ben Stokes will be hugely frustrated he didn't go on to get his second Test hundred, while Jos Buttler, who made an uncharacteristic 22-ball duck, never got to grips with the conditions.

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special
"Nothing went to plan for England. They should have been batting until after lunch, but they just folded. They bowled quite well and got four of them out, and then just when you thought they had a chance of really getting stuck in, they let Chanderpaul and Blackwood get away with it. The England players might be sat in the dressing room thinking they should have done better."

It suggests a lack of confidence within the team, and that's hardly surprising. That's what happens when you haven't been playing good cricket recently, when you've been on the receiving end of criticism and when the coach and a number of the players are under scrutiny.

There's also been some pressure loaded on to the team by the incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves, who has suggested there will be an inquiry if England don't win this series. Frankly, that's the last thing the players need when they're not playing assertive, confident cricket anyway.

Nothing typifies the loss of confidence more than the decline of Stuart Broad's batting. He's a decent batsman, but at the moment he's got it in his head that he's very tentative about batting against anything above medium pace.

He hasn't been the same since he was struck in the face by Varun Aaron last summer, but he's got to find a way of getting over this psychological issue that he's got, because he's got some serious quick stuff to face later in the summer when England take on New Zealand and Australia.

England's Stuart Broad
Stuart Broad's nose was broken by a bouncer from India's Varun Aaron at Old Trafford in August last year

England's performance with the ball was generally good - what they did very well was make each run difficult to score for the West Indies batsmen. But I still think they could be more imaginative.

I'd like to see them liberate Stokes: tell him to bowl fast, bowl short, bowl bouncers, and if it costs runs it doesn't matter - we need somebody to go in and shake batsmen up a bit. At the moment the four-man seam attack is too samey.

One big positive for England was the performance of James Anderson in his 100th Test match. He bowled really well, despite the pressure of trying to overhaul Ian Botham's tally of 383 wickets to become England's all-time leading wicket-taker.

Having a big target like that dangling in front of your nose is always challenging for a bowler - I remember years ago I went in to the last game of the season on 98 wickets, and to be honest I bowled like a drain!

But Anderson is experienced enough to handle the pressure. He has a new ball to bowl with tomorrow and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets the three wickets he needs to break the record.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's James Gheerbrant.