BEN STOKES endured a remarkably mixed first day on England’s tour of the West Indies as one of four batsmen to hit half-centuries only to then also serve up a bizarre over which cost 23 runs in the comfortable victory over a UWI Vice-Chancellor’s XI.
Eoin Morgan (95), like Jason Roy (79) and Yorkshire’s Joe Root (71) before him, failed to cash in three figures in this first of two warm-up matches at Warner Park - but the captain’s six fours and six sixes helped to set inexperienced hosts a daunting target of 379-8, which proved beyond them despite Test batsman Chadwick Walton’s memorable innings of 121.
It was Stokes, though, who suffered the most outrageous and contrasting fortunes before eventually completing England’s 117-run victory as the Chancellor’s XI were bowled out for 262.
Just six days after becoming the Indian Premier League’s £1.7m record overseas signing, the charismatic all-rounder began by struggling at times before launching some big hits in his 61 to ensure England got back on track after racing to 239-2 in 30 overs.
Stokes could hardly complain during the home chase that Morgan was then reluctant to give him more than one over after his first lasted nine balls, contained two wides and a no-ball as well as two sixes - one off a free-hit - and two fours.
Roy had earlier set the tone for England when he got under way with a pull for four off Keon Harding from the first ball of the match, after the tourists were put in, and by the time he was done less than an hour later he had put his team on course for a mammoth total.
His opening partner Sam Billings fell to an outstanding catch at point off Jermaine Levy (4-100).
But Roy had already climbed into a series of crunching back-foot fours off the pace bowlers, hitting 12 fours and three sixes from just 43 balls before poking a simple catch back to left-arm spinner Khary Pierre.
Root and Morgan also picked off the boundaries in their third-wicket partnership of 126.
England’s new Test captain was dropped at cover by Tagenarine Chanderpaul off Burton on 64 and seemed set for a century until he dragged a drive at Levy low into the hands of midwicket.
Pierre returned to have Morgan lbw pushing forward, and Jos Buttler edged an attempted drive at a wide one from Levy on to his stumps to go for just a single.
England therefore stalled, until Stokes put his foot down.
He was dropped on 18 and 36 - when one big hit to long-off and a second to long-on were both parried for sixes - on his way to a 47-ball fifty in a sixth-wicket stand of 68 with Liam Dawson.
After Steven Finn took two wickets in three balls, the hosts were 10 for two in the second over of their reply.
Finn made short work of opener Amir Jangoo and number three Anthony Alleyne, as the left-handers both made ducks - pinned lbw and well-caught at second slip by Stokes.
Then in a bruising third-wicket stand of 70, Shimron Hetmyer showed he had little respect for Stokes’ IPL riches.
It was hardly the most encouraging start to the tour for the all-rounder, who was memorably smashed for four successive sixes by Carlos Brathwaite in his most recent - uncompleted - over against West Indies as they mugged England in last year’s ICC World Twenty20 final in Kolkata.
Walton went on to play especially well here, succeeding where England’s batsmen had not, by reaching three figures from 101 balls - his second century in his last three List A innings containing 12 fours and four sixes before he eventually fell lbw to Root’s part-time off-spin.
The opener lacked lasting support, though, Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett taking revenge on Hetmyer when he was caught at mid-off immediately after Stokes’s horror over.
England scrambled the run-out of Cassius Burton, with a deft click back on to the stumps from Buttler, after another 81 had been added for the fourth wicket.
Thereafter, England’s hosts ran out of resources - and Morgan was even able to bring Stokes back for a morale-boosting second spell which ended when No 11 Levy was caught behind.