With Kevin Pietersen waiting in the wings for a potential recall for the Ashes in the summer, England's current eleven began positively against the West Indies in the first Test match in Antigua yesterday. They had to recover from a poor start, which saw captain Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Gary Ballance all dismissed cheaply by the pacey Caribbean bowlers. Once again it was the dependable Ian Bell and Joe Root who repaired much of the damage, with Bell hitting a wonderful century, before some belligerent strokes from the recalled Ben Stokes added some gloss to the total of 341-5 at the close of play on day one.

Pietersen's fine knock against the Oxford students will no doubt have added some extra pressure to the current incumbents of the top order batting positions, with Ballance at number three, perhaps the main man in the firing line. Unfortunately, the Yorkshire player was among the three early wickets to fall after the hosts had won the toss and elected to field first, leaving England teetering on 34-3. Trott was first to go for a duck after facing just three balls on his return to the international fold, following his well-documented stress-related issues during the 2013 Ashes' series, Down Under. Fellow opener Cook had reached 11 when he was clean-bowled by Kemar Roach, with Balance making just 10 to complete the early misery for England.

The fourth-wicket partnership of 177 between Bell and Root patched up the innings before Root fell on 83 to provide Jerome Taylor with his second wicket of the day. That brought Stokes to the middle and he seemed determined to catch up for lost time, after being in and out of the side over recent seasons. He remained not out on 71 at the close, after Bell had finally been removed by Roach for 143, as they shared in a stand of 130 for the fifth wicket.

That was Bell's 22nd century in Tests, leaving only Cook and KP above him on the all-time list for his country.

The early promise for the home side with the ball seemed to evaporate as the day wore on, with the conditions becoming more conducive to batting than bowling through the afternoon and into the final session. England will look to build on their score on day two and then seek early inroads of their own during the West Indies' innings, with hopefully a big score of at least 450 - 500 on the board by then to defend.