England out cheaply at Headingley

England's Ben Stokes celebrates his century

England's Ben Stokes celebrates his century

England flirted with collapse on day one of the second Test against the West Indies but centurion Ben Stokes and a record-equalling Joe Root took advantage of dismal catching to hand the hosts a foothold at Headingley.

The Windies' very worthiness as tourists was called into question after last week's day/night capitulation at Edgbaston but Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel bowled with pace, pride and purpose only for four dropped chances to undermine their bold attempt to reignite the Investec Series.

Stokes was put down on nine before making a devil-may-care 100, with Root's reprieve on eight allowed him to make 59, equalling AB de Villiers' world record of half-centuries in 12 consecutive Tests.

Kieran Powell and Kraigg Brathwaite were the guilty parties, both shelling regulation chances in the slips at an eye-watering cost of 142 runs out of England's total of 258, but Alastair Cook made no such mistake when James Anderson found the former's edge to leave the islanders 19 for one at stumps.

Stokes' boundary-laden ton - containing 68 runs in fours - proved the frenetic centrepiece of the innings while Root continued a relentlessly reliable scoring streak which dates back to Dhaka last October.

That only three of those have been converted into hundreds is a well-known point of concern to Root but England's real issue as they approach an Ashes winter is the glaring and repeated inability to fill positions at opener, three and five.

Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan all failed their latest auditions, contributing 30 between them against opponents who were considered impossibly easy pickings after their meltdown in Birmingham.

Root eagerly announced his intention to bat first after winning the toss under bright skies at his home ground and was surely imagining better than 61 for three at lunch.

But that was the least the West Indies deserved thanks to a tone-setting burst from Roach and Gabriel, who closed with four scalps each. Cook faced more than 400 balls for his 243 last time out but was first man down here, nicking Gabriel for 11 to continue a modest record in Yorkshire.

That brought together Stoneman and Westley, two Test newcomers who emphatically failed to advance their fragile credentials for Ashes spots this winter.

Westley made three, a tally which still flattered him, before Roach slammed a fast, full delivery into his back pad to win an lbw so clear the batsmen did not even raise the prospect of a referral with his partner.

Stoneman at least threatened to find his feet, facing 47 balls for his 19, but a loose drive and an inside edge to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich was an unedifying way to go.

Had Powell gathered the simplest of slip catches to add the prize scalp of Root the scoreboard would have read 44 for four but somehow the ball squirmed free and the skipper ticked along to 24 by the break.

Malan imploded early in the third over of the afternoon, cannoning Jason Holder inelegantly into off stump, but Root moved serenely towards his special 50 - bringing it up by slashing Devendra Bishoo to the ropes.

If his celebration was muted given the significance, his frustration at getting out to the same bowler soon after was anything but. An ill-conceived paddle sweep looped to slip and he flailed his bat several times during an angry walk to the pavilion.

By then Stokes had already been dropped by Brathwaite on nine, the fielder not only spilling the shoulder-high chance but also diverting it to the boundary for good measure.

Initially, at least, the all-rounder batted frantically, mixing mis-hits and body blows with some muscular boundaries. He did not really look in control until he reached 50 with a brutal strike through extra cover but thereafter he unfurled a highlights reel of swivel pulls, sweeps and drives threaded between fielders.

He was still two short of his sixth Test hundred when he clubbed Roach straight to mid-on, where Gabriel fumbled another easy catch to Roach's blatant displeasure. Stokes reached three figures off the very next ball but did not go further as Gabriel made amends by finding the outside edge.

Moeen Ali (22) and Chris Woakes (23) made brisk contributions but the lower order were dealt with professionally, another drop from Dowrich not withstanding.

That left 12 overs for the Caribbean side to face and Powell's bad day took another turn for the worse when he was picked off by Anderson, who is now seven short of 500 wickets.