NORTH SOUND: Ian Bell hit a polished 143 for his 22nd test century to help turn a precarious start for England into a powerful position on the opening day of the first test of the three-match series against West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Monday.
Bell had a partnerships of 177 with Joe Root, who scored 83, to completely change the tempo of the opening session when England crawled to 49-3 off 25 overs, striking just three fours. With Bell, Root and Ben Stokes taking the attack to the bowlers in the final two sessions, England ended the day 341-5.
Bell's wicket, caught by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin off Kemar Roach with the second new ball in the penultimate over, gave the West Indies a timely boost but they face a difficult time preventing a daunting total in excess of 400. His main scoring shots off the 256 balls he faced were 11 fours and a straight six off spinner Marlon Samuels.
As the West Indies bowlers lost their early momentum, Bell and Root took control before Root edged fast bowler Jerome Taylor's second ball of a second spell into his stumps. He hit 11 fours from his 133 balls, giving one chance, a straightforward catch to Sulieman Benn at midwicket off Marlon Samuels at 61. It was a bad day for Benn, the left-arm spinner, who didn't take a wicket from his 26 overs.
Bell, 88 at the time, went to his hundred soon after with his 14th four. The left-handed Stokes picked up where Root left off as he and Bell plundered the bowling with attacking strokes for a partnership of 130. Stokes reached 71 at the end of play.
Captain Ramdin's decision to bowl on winning the toss seemed justified by the West Indies early successes.
Jonathan Trott, in his first test since he withdrew from England's tour of Australia after the first test in November 2013, edged his third ball to first slip off Taylor's fifth ball of the match.
Kemar Roach went through the left-handed Alastair Cook's defense to bowl the opposition captain for 11 at 22 for two after eight overs. It became 34 for three when Gary Ballance, another left-hander, was taken at first slip off Jason Holder.
The West Indies struggled after that as Bell, Root and Stokes, to the delight of the estimated 2,000 travelling England supporters, took advantage of wayward bowling.
Both teams wore black armbands and observed a minute's silence in remembrance of Richie Benaud, the former Australia captain and the game's most eminent television commentator, who died in Sydney last Friday, aged 84.