England drop selection hints

Their four days of cricket against a St Kitts & Nevis XI have been desperately short of competitive edge and, though there must be real concerns that the tourists will head to Antigua on Friday undercooked, they ensured each of their likely team saw some batting action.

The decision to linger in the middle after two rain delays in order to allow Chris Jordan and James Tredwell to face some admittedly low-quality bowling, suggested those two would claim the disputed places in the team.

Barring a raging turner in Antigua next week there will be only one spinning place and Tredwell, already a likelier pick than Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid, was sent in ahead of his counterpart for a late hit.

His dismissal gave Rashid a chance of his own but Tredwell was given priority and can now start preparing for a second Test cap.

Jordan, meanwhile, was afforded a decent stint at the crease in the final session, when England pressed for an extra half-hour’s play following rain delays.

That suggests he has done enough to remain ahead of Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett, who both bowled for the hosts without doing anything compelling to push their case.

Those decisions aside the second in a pair of two-day fixtures has been little more than a glorified training drill, with Plunkett, Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow dropped in to strengthen the flimsy local side, while Gary Ballance, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root featured for both teams at various points.

That made a mockery of the idea that this was a match in any meaningful way, but coach Peter Moores deserves credit for tactfully brokering the unusual deal.

Without those negotiations, England might simply have steamrollered their hosts and learnt even less.

Ian Bell looked in best form, making a fluent 43 before retiring, while captain Alastair Cook also opted to end his own innings having ground out 22 runs in the morning session.

Trott, who made 72 in the first match, was dismissed by Monserratian seamer Quinton Boatswain for two, having already made a duck batting for the hosts.

That pair of knocks will not do his cause much good but he is still Cook’s most likely opening partner after Adam Lyth fell for a streaky 23, his first knock in England colours also containing two drops.

Jos Buttler and Gary Ballance both mustered 23, the latter retiring after a rain break in the evening session, while Ben Stokes made 29 before nicking off to Wood.

Stokes, who has bowled with skill and batted with intent, has probably taken more from the week at Warner Park than anyone else and is now a certainty to make his Test return.

England finished on 220 all out after a late flurry of retirements and slogs into the deep, but the scoreboard had long since failed to be relevant.

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