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By PA Sport
Last Updated: 03/07/20 6:58pm
England’s final preparations for the Test series against West Indies saw a handful of key batsmen spend important time at the crease on day three of their internal warm-up at The Ageas Bowl.
Five of England’s likely top six for the first Test against Windies enjoyed valuable workouts, with Ollie Pope top-scoring on the day with an unbeaten 55 for Team Buttler against Team Stokes.
Team Stokes ended on 157-4 in a nominal chase of 255 – the final equation having only been set up by Jos Buttler’s second declaration of the game – on a day on which all-rounder Sam Curran tested negative for coronavirus.
England vs W Indies
July 8, 2020, 10:30am
Now it is over to the selectors to fill in the blanks, with a 22-man squad due to be named on Saturday morning for next week’s #raisethebat series opener against West Indies in Southampton, cutting eight names from the original training group of 30.
In addition to Pope’s fifty, Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Stokes each passed 30.
Joe Denly failed to join them among the runs, falling lbw second ball to Jack Leach for one, but the belated appearance of Dan Lawrence at number seven suggests his place is safe for now.
There was greater clarity on the spinning position, too, with Dom Bess’ status as the man in possession only underlined by expensive spells from Leach and Moeen Ali.
The pair did share five wickets for Team Stokes but three of those came from the care-free pursuit of declaration runs and both were far too expensive.
Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson picked up the wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Sibley in the concluding session, only for Stokes to cool his momentum by launching him for 22 in a over.
Resuming 54 runs ahead of Stokes’ side, Team Buttler’s opening pair of Burns and James Bracey put on a care-free stand of 61 in the morning.
Bracey, whose day one 85 proved the top score of the match, was first down for 22, top-edging Stokes to fine leg, before Leach trapped new man Denly clean in front for one. That was a rare victory for Leach, who leaked five sixes and looks short of rhythm.
Moeen was also loose but had the satisfaction of bowling Burns on the back foot for 35 before lunch. Runs flowed freely in the afternoon, Pope scoring with consummate freedom as he shared 50-run stands with Buttler (35) and Chris Woakes (37).
Bairstow was invited to open alongside Sibley for the fourth innings, suggesting a place in the 22 awaits him, and the pair added 70.
Parkinson accounted for both but three huge sixes and a reverse sweep for four in a solitary over off the bat of Stokes proved the end of his stint.
The soon-to-be Test captain finished unbeaten on 37 from just 17 deliveries, while Crawley chimed in with a bright 34 before falling lbw to Wood.
Bess ushered in the early finish when he dismissed Moeen for six, underlining his new status as the man in possession of the slow-bowling berth.