Saqib Mahmood and Richard Gleeson answered Andy Flower’s selection call and were the pick of the bowlers as England Lions dominated the opening day of the final “Test” against West Indies A in Antigua.
The hosts won the toss and chose to bat first at a sun-drenched Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and were bowled out for a disappointing 236, owing much to 63 from Shamarh Brooks.
He held the innings together but Mahmood impressed throughout and took three wickets, while Gleeson took two and Jack Leach continued his excellent Caribbean form with a further three wickets.
The Lions then saw out the closing 11 overs without drama and finished the day 226 runs behind the hosts.
It was the Northamptonshire seamer, Gleeson, that started proceedings, as he found the inside edge of Captain Kieran Powell’s bat in the sixth over and Alex Davies took a stunning catch behind the stumps.
Nottinghamshire all-rounder, Paul Coughlin, then joined the attack and Jermaine Blackwood greeted him with back-to-back boundaries, before the bowler had a huge caught behind appeal turned down against John Campbell.
Two more lives followed for Campbell, with Gleeson and Coughlin both having loud LBW decisions rejected by the umpire.
The opener’s luck finally ran out as he was trapped LBW for 33 by an in-swinging delivery from Mahmood, who had just returned for his second spell.
Blackwood, playing an unusually restrained innings, finally succumbed to Jack Leach after several aerial chances avoided fielders and he flicked into the hands of Gubbins at short-leg for 28.
The umpires conferred and confirmed the ball carried and Blackwood trudged off in dismay.
Both Gubbins and Leach were in action again shortly after, but the former couldn’t cling on to a tough chance from Jahmah Hamilton this time.
Coughlin looked to have taken the wicket of Hamilton as Davies once again dived to his right to take the catch, but the umpire ruled it not out, much to the bowler’s disappointment.
Then Brooks and Hamilton briefly steadied the ship combining for a 50-run partnership from 111 balls.
England continued to toil after Lunch with little reward in difficult conditions, as Brooks and Hamilton moved along untroubled against the older pink ball.
As the game entered the twilight zone of Day One though, Mahmood returned and broke the partnership, picking up his second wicket of the innings, trapping Hamilton LBW for 20, leaving West Indies A on 150/4.
Brooks continued to accumulate and brought up his 50 from 97 balls, after hitting Gleeson for four.
Wicket-keeper, Shane Dowrich, struggled to get going and faced 12 balls without scoring, before edging a delivery from Mahmood to Davies.
That left West Indies A reeling on 154/5, with Brooks trying to keep the innings together.
Raymon Reifer joined him, and was given a chance on nought when Joe Clarke failed to hang on to a difficult diving chance at backward point.
It was Gleeson who broke Brooks’ resistance though, trapping him LBW for 63, to leave the home side 187/6.
That brought the dangerous pair of Reifer and Rahkeem Cornwall together, who moved the scoring on at a brisk rate against some tired Lions bowling.
The two put on 41 from just 60 balls, before Captain Keaton Jennings made an inspired change and brought himself into the attack.
With his third ball, he found the edge of Reifer’s bat and the ball looped up to Leach in gully, who made no mistake.
Keemo Paul came and went fourth ball trying to hit Leach back over his head, only to find Sam Northeast at mid-on, leaving the Windies requiring something special from the lower order to get them to a par total.
It didn’t come, as the dangerous Cornwall flicked Coughlin to mid-wicket and the 25-year-old finally got his reward after running in all day to no avail.
Somerset spinner, Leach, finished the job, trapping Keon Joseph LBW, as West Indies A crumbled to 236 all out.
Haseeb Hameed and Jennings opened for the Lions and Hameed survived an early scare after Reifer wrapped him on the pads.
The Lions were then content to see out the closing 11 overs, and did so with very few alarms, closing on 20/0 against the pink ball under lights.