West Indies v England: Alistair Cook saved by Bell
England closed day one of the first Test in Antigua on 341-5 thanks to 'magnificent' Ian Bell
Alastair Cook was saved by his Bell as England finished the first day of the first Test against the West Indies on 341 for 5.
Ian Bell was dismissed shortly before stumps for 143, his 22nd Test century, and one that extricated England from a precarious position after a flurry of early wickets.
Put into bat by the West Indies on what appeared an innocuous Antigua wicket, England lost Jonathan Trott to his third ball.
The South African-born batsman was appearing in his first Test since quitting the 2013-14 Ashes tour due to fatigue but he was undone by a sharp delivery from Jerome Taylor that he edged to slip.
Cook soon followed, the England captain bowled by an inswinger from Kemar Roach for 11. The dismissal extends Cook's miserable form with the bat with the Englishman still searching for his first Test century since May 2013.
When Jason Holder removed Gary Ballance for 10, the tourists were teetering on the brink of an all-too familiar collapse. But rather than disintegrating, England consolidated with a fourth-wicket partnership of 171 between Bell and Joe Root.
Taking the attack to the West Indian bowlers, the pair accelerated in the second session with Sulieman Benn coming in for particular punishment as he conceded 86 wicketless runs.
Root was eventually bowled by Taylor for 83 after tea but that brought Ben Stokes to the wicket and the young all-rounder continued to attack, sharing a fifth-wicket partnership of 130 with Bell, who had reached his century in 194 balls.
Bell finally fell in the penultimate over of the day, caught by Denesh Ramdin off the bowling of Roach, but with Stokes still there on 71, England will feel confident of passing 500 on day two of the Test.
"It was a tricky first morning," explained Bell. "Then the wicket dried out and it was nice to cash in during the afternoon. I thought they bowled well for two hours."
For the Warwickshire man, his century was the perfect way to banish memories of his last visit to this ground in England colours. "In 2009 I was dropped here in Antigua, so it was nice to come back here and put things right from my own perspective," he said.