“It’s always a dream to play at Lord’s,” – Kavem Hodge shines on day one of England tour game

Kavem Hodge helped the West Indies Test squad make a confident start to their Tour of England with a purposeful hundred against a First-Class Counties Select XI yesterday.

The 31-year-old Dominican slammed 112 and three others gathered half-centuries before the Caribbean side were dismissed for 339 in their first innings after they won the toss and decided to bat on a chilly first day of a three-day match at the Kent County Cricket Ground.

Alick Athanaze and fellow left-hander Kirk McKenzie – both on their first Test tour to England like Hodge – and lanky opener Mikyle Louis – on the first Test tour of his career – supported with contrasting half-centuries to get the visitors off to a strong start.

The FCC Select XI were 15 without loss at the close with their captain Ben McKinney, not out on 11, and fellow opener Harry Singh, not out on two.

Earlier, Hodge practically guaranteed himself a spot in the side to play against England in the first Test, starting at Lord’s this coming Wednesday, when he led the West Indies batting with a three-hour innings that included 14 fours and two sixes from 128 balls.

Hodge, who is on his maiden England trip, said he found it cold but enjoyed his first outing and cannot wait to get to Lord’s.

“It’s always a dream to play that at Lord’s,” Hodge said after the day’s play. “Something growing up as a kid that you sit and dream about, you watch a lot of cricket at Lord’s. It’s something I am looking forward to: getting the opportunity to sit and watch the game, play there with the crowd, the prestige, the home of cricket, it’s something that every cricketer aspires to do.”

Like Shamar, Hodge – who at 31 has played only two Tests – was part of the memorable win at the Gabba win in January, scoring 71 and 29. Hodge said the character shown by West Indies in the Australia series could keep their self-belief high in England too.

“It [the Gabba win] has played a big role in the sense of belief that we have as a team. Going into a Test match against Australia with [several] debutants [on the tour], I don’t think much people give us a sniff, but it proved to everybody that the belief that we have as a team, we prepared well.

“I must big up Andrew Coley [head coach] and his backroom staff, they put in a lot of work and a lot of work that people don’t see, but it showed there on the field. So it’s something that really pushed us and we just continued to ride off that.”

He reached his hundred from 119 balls when he charged down the pitch to off-spinner Farhan Ahmed, younger brother of teenage England leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, and lofted a delivery over long-on for his second six.

Athanaze supported with 74, McKenzie made 73, and Louis equipped himself well with an even 50 in between the Caribbean side losing the opening pair of their captain Kraigg Brathwaite and fellow Barbadian Zachary McCaskie cheaply and the bottom half of the batting crumbling.

Ahmed ended with four for 48 from 12 overs, and South Africa-born pacer John Turner finished with four for 60 from 12.1 overs.

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