Joe Root lit up the Kensington Oval with his 25th test century as England made a strong start to the second match of the series against the West Indies on Wednesday.
Playing with confidence after a knock of 109 in the second innings of last week’s draw in Antigua, Root was even better in Barbados as he reached 119 not out from a total of 244-3 on the first day.
Around 8,500 visiting fans were present to take in the spectacle and all four corners of the famous old ground received a wave of the England captain’s bat as they sang his name long and loud.
By reaching a quarter-century of test hundreds, Root vaulted past illustrious names such as Viv Richards, Greg Chappell and Mohammad Yousuf as well as contemporaries David Warner and Kane Williamson.
Dan Lawrence had looked certain to follow his captain to a century, but there was a sting in the tail for him as he picked out short cover one ball before the close. He had just hit back-to-back fours to reach a career-best test score of 91, but fell to the ground in despair after his exuberance cost him a three-figure score.
Earlier, the West Indies contributed to its own struggles, sparing Root a review on 23, dropping him on 34, and putting down Lawrence late on.
Root’s day had started with an 11th-hour change to his team sheet, with Craig Overton dropping out of the team in the morning after feeling unwell overnight. In came uncapped seamer Matthew Fisher.
Having already selected one debutant in the shape of paceman Saqib Mahmood, England now had two untried seamers in the same attack for the first time since Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions in 2009.
Root delayed their introduction by winning the toss and batting first, with gentle batting conditions not preventing England suffering its customary early loss.
Zak Crawley followed up his century in Antigua with a seven-ball duck. Uncertain about whether or not to play at Jayden Seales, he sent a tentative edge straight through to the keeper.
England reached lunch at 47-1 as Alex Lees showed determination, managed just 16 runs in two hours of occupation by waiting for loose deliveries.
Root was brighter as he almost doubled Lees’ contribution, smashing Seales through cover on one knee and tucking into the first of many swivel pulls. He was, though, also offered a second chance.
Had the West Indies pursued Jason Holder’s shout for caught behind, the TV umpire would have ruled in the hosts’ favor but the DRS timer ran down.
Root was then strangled down the leg side by Kemar Roach, only for the ball to pop out of Josh Da Silva’s glove as he dived.
Root cashed in though Lees couldn’t, his stay ended in suitably low-key fashion for 30 when trapped lbw to a gentle turner from Veerasammy Permaul. Of the 138 balls Lees faced, he scored off just 15.
Lawrence took 10 balls to get off the mark but soon found his range, beating mid-on to the right and left with back-to-back drives before clubbing Permaul for six.
Root had already opened up his favored scoring areas at third man and soon started working through his sweeps.
At tea, England was 136-2 and Root was finding it all too easy. And, helped by a misfield from John Campbell at deep square and some more uninspired bumpers from Seales, Root was soon raising his arms in a familiar celebration.
The West Indies missed a run-out chance when Lawrence over-committed, then put him down at slip as a regulation chance evaded Joseph. In the end he gave it away right at the close, hitting Holder straight to the waiting catcher.