England Lions endured a deeply frustrating final session of the second day of their series against West Indies A, after Jamie Porter and Jack Leach had bowled them into a dominant position.
Porter struck two key blows with the new ball, dismissing Test batsmen Kieran Powell and Jermaine Blackwood, then Leach took three wickets in a probing 25-over spell that started before lunch and finished after tea.
But from the grim position of 114 for eight, the home team recovered to 232 for eight, with Test wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich making an unbeaten 90 – comfortably the highest score of the match so far.
Left-arm spinner Jamel Worrican reached his half century with a six in the last over of the day.
“It was a tough day,” admitted Porter, who ended with two for 41 from 12 overs. “"For some of us it’s the first proper day out in the field for a while. But no excuses, I just think it got a lot tougher as the day went on, and unfortunately we couldn’t finish it off."
“It was a tough day,” admitted Porter, who ended with two for 41 from 12 overs. “For some of us it’s the first proper day out in the field for a while. But no excuses, I just think it got a lot tougher as the day went on, and unfortunately we couldn’t finish it off.
“The two guys not out, Dowrich and Worrican, played very well, so we’ve got to give some credit to them. Jack Leach bowled beautifully and was unlucky at the end there. But as that ball gets softer it gets a bit tougher to bowl, and a lot less happens. So we’ve just got to be patient and wait for the chances to come.”
The second new ball is due in three more overs.
Porter had struck with his fourth ball, squaring up the left-handed Powell for Keaton Jennings to take a superb low catch diving to his right at third slip.
Toby Roland-Jones made it 2 for 2 in the second over as Jennings took a more routine catch to dismiss John Campbell, another left-hander.
Blackwood counter-attacked in the style with which he has become associated in his 27 Tests, and had reached 35 by the time a shower forced an early lunch.
But after switching ends for a second spell, Porter dismissed him straight after the break, with the diminutive right-hander surprised by extra bounce and lobbing to Liam Livingstone at second slip.
“I managed to get one through,” smiled Porter, who was the leading wicket-taker in Essex’s triumphant 2017 Championship season, but was ruled out of the Lions training camp in Australia before Christmas after scans revealed a stress fracture in his lower back. “I just felt he was playing shots when it was pitched up, so I wanted to let him know he wasn’t going to get it all in his half.
“It’s very nice to get two of their established Test players out – those are the guys you want to test yourself against, so I’m very pleased.”
Leach was introduced early by Jennings and looked dangerous immediately on a pitch on which the home spinners had already taken six wickets.
He was rewarded with a classic left-armer’s dismissal as Shamarh Brooks was lured down the pitch, beaten by turn and smartly stumped by Ben Foakes.
Paul Coughlin, fresh from his half century on Lions first-class debut, then underlined his all-round ability by having Vishaul Singh caught behind with another short ball.
Raymon Reifer chipped Leach to Haseeb Hameed at mid wicket, and Coughlin then showed another strength of his game with an efficient piece of fielding to run out Rehkeem Cornwall after the burly all-rounder had been surprised by Dowrich’s call for a quick single into the covers.
Leach then bowled Jeremiah Louis in spectacular style, knocking his middle stump out of the ground, in the first over after tea to leave the Windies team eight wickets down and still 139 behind. But thanks to Dowrich and Worrican, they will resume day three with realistic hopes of pinching a first-innings lead.
The Lions had been hoping to extend their overnight total of 233 for six towards 300. But instead they lost their last four wickets for 20.
Roland-Jones fell without adding to his overnight 18, caught at gully off the leading edge trying to hit Reifer into the leg-side.
Coughlin moved to 60 before turning Cornwall’s off-spin into the hands of leg slip, Crane edged Reifer to second slip for a duck, and Leach was last out lbw to Cornwall, who ended with five for 68.