England in West Indies: 'Rusty tourists must accept selection mistake'

Rory Burns is bowled
England opener Rory Burns played on for two

At the end of an extraordinary second day of the first Test, England are staring at being 1-0 down to West Indies.

Eighteen wickets fell on Thursday in Barbados, 10 of them belonging to the tourists as they were shot out for 77.

There may have been a tiny sniff for England when they reduced the home side to 61-5 in their second innings but, realistically, the game was already up.

And, with West Indies then recovering to 127-6 by the close - 339 ahead - it would take something absolutely remarkable for Joe Root's side to win this match.

It started going wrong for England when Root exchanged teamsheets with opposite number Jason Holder before the toss on Wednesday.

England decided to go for two frontline spinners, using Sam Curran as part of a three-man pace attack and omitting Stuart Broad. It turns out that Broad would probably have been incredibly effective on this surface, on which the West Indies have employed four frontline pace bowlers.

Now, you may wonder why I am talking about the decision taken on Broad, a bowler, when it is the batsmen who have failed.

It is not as simple as separating the two. You begin a Test by selecting the right team. Everything follows on from that. Who knows what might happened if Broad had helped dismiss West Indies cheaply on the first day.

Ultimately, England will have to admit they made a mistake.

On this second day, they fell victim to some classic West Indian dismissals at the hands of a home attack that used the conditions perfectly. They were very disciplined, they found the right lengths and the fielders held the catches when the edges came.

Before this match began, I spoke about England using this series to nail down the top three spots in their batting order and this collapse is already one opportunity missed.

Keaton Jennings was out driving, getting a thick edge to be caught in the gully. As we know, he has an upright technique, with his front foot not always getting to the pitch of the ball. It is a proven frailty.

His opening partner, Rory Burns, took 26 deliveries for his two before perhaps being a touch unlucky to play on to his own stumps.

There is plenty that I like about Burns, but I noticed in his first series in Sri Lanka that there are times when he could be busier, more positive at the crease.

That does not mean crashing the ball to all parts, but looking to tick the scoreboard over with singles pushed into gaps created by the attacking fields that opening batsmen face.

If you can be more active - rotate the strike and pinch the ones - it gives you momentum.

Highest successful Test chases at Kensington Oval
311-9: West Indies v Australia, 1999
268-8: West Indies v Pakistan, 1988
196-2: West Indies v India, 1989
Full list of fourth-innings chases in Barbados

Another who may count himself as unfortunate is Jonny Bairstow, who was bowled off his elbow when the ball bounced a little more than he was expecting.

If the dismissal was not entirely Bairstow's fault, there was still a gap between bat and pad through which the ball travelled.

We know that he likes to play the big off drives, which can be both a strength and a weakness. Opposing teams will look to exploit that and he has to tighten up.

The rest - the likes of Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes - simply looked rusty and underprepared.

A lack of adequate preparation is something that I can talk about until I am blue in the face because it keeps coming back to haunt England, who so often start away Test series badly.

On this occasion, they played two two-day practice matches, batting and bowling for a day in each. I do not know if that set-up works, but there certainly seems to be no adrenaline in those games.

They were offered a proper, four-day, first-class match by Cricket West Indies but turned it down.

The result was when facing good bowling in a tricky situation in front of a hostile crowd, the batsmen did not look equipped to rise to the challenge. If you asked each of the players to tell you honestly if they were as prepared as they could be for this Test, I doubt that many of them would say that they were.

And so, with defeat looking all but certain, England have to take as much as they can from the rest of this Test. In effect, they need to win the second half, even if they cannot win the match.

Moeen Ali, who bowled poorly in West Indies' first innings, has already picked up three wickets in the second. When the batsmen get another chance, they have to fight to get some runs, effectively using it as the preparation that they have not had.

Even if they are going behind, England can still set themselves up for the rest of the series.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Stephan Shemilt.

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