So many things were different and yet so much remained the same as the English weather ruined day one of the first Test between England and West Indies, as international cricket returned after a four-month absence.
England and the West Indies managed just 82 minutes of play in the rain-hit opening day, that started with players taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
England was 1-35 at stumps having faced only 17.4 overs because of light and intermittent rain at Southampton’s Rose Bowl.
There were no spectators present for a match being played in an isolated, bio-secure environment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rory Burns was 20 not out and Joe Denly was unbeaten on 14, with Dom Sibley the man out bowled by Shannon Gabriel off the 10th delivery of the day.
Moments before the first ball was bowled, West Indies’ fielding players knelt in the outfield while their England counterparts did the same around the boundary edge in support a movement that has grown since the killing of George Floyd in the United States in May.
Prior to the match, West Indian great Michael Holding and former England women’s international Ebony Rainford-Brent featured in a video in which they spoke about the racism that they had experienced during their careers.
“Racism is taught. No one is born a racist,” Holding said. “The environment in which you grow, the society in which you live, encourages and teaches racism.”
“I was never taught anything good about black people. You cannot have a society brought up like that, both black and white, only teaching what’s convenient to the teacher.
“History is written by the conqueror, not those who are conquered. History is written by the people who do the harm, not by the people who get harmed.
“We need to go back and teach both sides of history and until we do that and educate the entire human race, this thing will not stop.”
A Black Lives Matter logo also was on the collar of the test shirts worn by players from both teams.
The kneeling gesture has been made before Premier League matches since the resumption of soccer in England last month.
“It was a great moment,” Gabriel said, “showing something we stand for and that racism has no part in cricket.”
England assistant coach Graham Thorpe said the team felt it was important to show solidarity with the West Indies players.
“We don’t want racism in our game and we want a fair and equal society for our children,” Thorpe said.
Players also stood for a minute’s silence in honour of those who died in the coronavirus pandemic and West Indies great Everton Weekes, who died last week.
Play started after a three-hour delay because of light rain and a wet outfield, and only lasted for three overs before the teams had to go back inside because of another shower.
By then, Sibley had seen his off stump knocked back following a poorly judged leave of a ball that angled in.
After that, the players went off for rain three times, and there was no play possible after 4:28 pm local time.
“It’s been a bit tough, coming off and on,” said Gabriel, who had figures of 1-19 off five overs.
“We just have to keep switched on when we come back on. It’s been a tough day but we’ve been doing well so far.”
Ben Stokes, England’s stand-in captain because Joe Root was absent because of the birth of his second child, won the toss and opted to bat under overcast skies.
Captain for the first time, Stokes made a big call in leaving out veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad — a long-time regular in the team.
Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and James Anderson will make up England’s pace attack along with Stokes.
After the toss was made, Stokes briefly forget about social distancing when he went to shake the hand of Holder. Holder moved his hand away and both allrounders laughed.