Jermaine Blackwood’s maiden Test century has held the West Indies innings together but England still gained a healthy first-innings lead of 104 in dismissing the home side for 295 at tea on the third day of the first Test.
Defending a total of 399, English perseverance in the field on another sweltering day’s play eventually paid off and was highlighted by the effort of James Tredwell, the off-spinner claiming four for 47 off 26 overs.
He made the important breakthrough in Wednesday’s morning session at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua in removing Shivnarine Chanderpaul before adding the wickets of Jason Holder and Kemar Roach as the West Indies lower order failed to show any meaningful resistance with the last four wickets subsiding for 19 runs.
Blackwood’s unbeaten 112 was compiled in a stay of almost six hours at the crease, highly unusual for a batsman noted for his quickfire, stroke-filled innings.
He eventually reached the treasured landmark with a single off Tredwell, completing his hundred in 296 minutes off 205 deliveries with 13 fours and two sixes.
His fifth-wicket partnership with Chanderpaul had prospered to the tune of 93 runs when the left-hander departed for 46, caught on the off-side after a mistimed drive at Tredwell.
The senior batsman’s departure brought an immediate sense of vulnerability to the rest of the West Indies batting line-up and that potential fragility was magnified when new batsman Denesh Ramdin gloved a lifting leg-side delivery from Stuart Broad, to depart for just nine, and gave wicketkeeper Jos Buttler his fourth catch of the innings.
However Jason Holder, dropped at short-leg by Gary Ballance off his second delivery from Broad, contributed 16 in a 49-run stand until a loose drive, just after Blackwood had reached his hundred, gave Ballance the opportunity to make up for the earlier miss at extra-cover.
James Anderson wrapped up the innings by dismissing last man Sulieman Benn, lifting his tally of Test wickets to 382, just one short of the English record held by former all-rounder Sir Ian Botham.