England's 'Artful Dodger' Lawrence steals the show

Last Updated: 16/03/22 11:46pm "There is an air of the Artful Dodger about Dan Lawrence… he looks to steal from bowlers' pockets." That was the assessment of former England batsman Mark Butcher as Dan

England's 'Artful Dodger' Lawrence steals the show

Dan Lawrence hits 13 boundaries and one six on his way to notching highest Test score of 91 on day one of the second Test against the West Indies in Barbados; England close on 244-3, with captain Joe Root unbeaten on 119

Last Updated: 16/03/22 11:46pm

Dan Lawrence struck 13 boundaries and one six on his way to his highest Test score of 91 on day one of the second Test Dan Lawrence struck 13 boundaries and one six on his way to his highest Test score of 91 on day one of the second Test
Dan Lawrence struck 13 boundaries and one six on his way to his highest Test score of 91 on day one of the second Test

"There is an air of the Artful Dodger about Dan Lawrence… he looks to steal from bowlers' pockets."

That was the assessment of former England batsman Mark Butcher as Dan Lawrence peppered the boundary on his way to a highest Test score of 91 on day one of the second Test between England and the West Indies in Barbados.

Lawrence provided some much-needed impetus in the second half of a day that England dominated, but one in which the tourists were ticking along scoring at less than two runs an over - 80 runs coming off the first 45 overs - until his arrival in the middle ignited their first innings effort.

Lawrence struck 13 boundaries and one six in his 91 off 150, sharing a superb 164-run stand with skipper Joe Root (119no), before his and England's day was somewhat soured with his dismissal off what proved to be the final ball of the day.

Lawrence's strength, his cavalier strokeplay that had served him so well to that point, was ultimately his undoing as he attempted to strike a third boundary in succession at a point at which most would be looking to just safely negotiate the final two deliveries of the day through to stumps.

West Indies vs England - Stumps, Day One

  • Joe Root hits 25th Test ton as England close on 244-3
  • Captain 119 not out from 246 balls in Barbados
  • Root adds 164 with Dan Lawrence for third wicket
  • Lawrence falls for 91 in the last over of the day
  • Root put on 76 from 251 balls with Alex Lees (38 off 130)
  • Zak Crawley out for duck after England bat
  • Saqib Mahmood, Matt Fisher handed England debuts
  • Mark Wood (elbow), Craig Overton (ill) drop out

But it is precisely this approach which will have England fans hopeful that they have found their answer at number four in the order.

On a tour which has already seen Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow cement their spaces opening the batting and at number six, respectively, after centuries in the first Test, and seen Root reacquaint himself with the number three spot in stunning style in this innings, it appears England have yet another position in their long-lambasted and brittle batting order solved.

In truth, No 4 was the one spot they perhaps didn't need fixing. Before this tour, Root was playing the best cricket of his career, scoring seven hundreds from the position since the start of last year.

But something had to change following another abject 4-0 Ashes drubbing Down Under over the winter and, as mentioned, those initial tweaks - including Root's move up a spot - appear to be paying off, although it should be said that the flat, docile West Indian wickets have also more than played their part in England's batting resurgence.

However, there is a template beginning to emerge that England can look to replicate. Crawley - although he failed here, falling for a seven-ball duck - ensures England aren't too plodding out of the gates, Root is there to counter any such early setback and then Lawrence can, ideally, cash in once the ball is a little older and bowlers wearier.

His arrival to the crease after 45 overs provided just such an opportunity and it was one he duly took with both hands until throwing it back somewhat with his regrettable lapse in concentration late on.

"He is always looking to be on the front foot, push the game forward," Butcher added. "And there is some risk that comes with that."

The nature of Lawrence's dismissal - chipping tamely to the fielder at cover - will so disappoint him as his innings was generally free from 'risk' till that point.

Yes, there was the odd chance taken, but it was far from mindless hitting on show. Lawrence was put down on 72 by Alzarri Joseph at slip, a bad drop, but, if anything, it was his running between the wickets that brought the most alarm as England's 'Artful Dodger' looked to pinch a fair few too many risky singles to go with the West Indies bowlers' pockets.

Otherwise, it was intelligent, thoughtful batting from the 24-year-old Essex batsman who is appearing in only his 10th Test match.

A predominately legside player, Lawrence repeatedly pierced gaps on the offside, prompting regular tweaks to the field in the hope for more protection on that side, only for Lawrence to then target the other side of the wicket. It was one such scenario that prompted Butcher's canny comparison.

It won't always be so easy for Lawrence. If, or perhaps more likely, when England's old familiar batting woes return, Lawrence's aggressive approach may not be quite so effective if forced in early and with the ball nipping around in more bowler-friendly conditions.

It's precisely why Lawrence will be kicking himself, knowing this was an opportunity missed with a maiden Test ton there for the taking, one that would have served as credit in the bank for any forthcoming leaner patches.

For now, England's Artful Dodger will just have to hope he can pinch a few more runs when he gets his next chance on this tour.

West Indies and England will resume the second Test at 2pm UK time on Thursday. Follow over-by-over text commentary from 1.45pm on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

References

  1. ^ #WIvENG (twitter.com)
  2. ^ @IGcom (twitter.com)
  3. ^ pic.twitter.com/YedxtiI02z (t.co)
  4. ^ March 16, 2022 (twitter.com)