Alastair Cook with welcome ton for England

Alastair Cook hits through the offside on his way to 101 in England's opening tour match. Picture: Getty
Alastair Cook hits through the offside on his way to 101 in England's opening tour match. Picture: Getty
Share this article
0
Have your say

England’s batsmen continued their businesslike domination on the second day of the warm-up clash in St Kitts.

The day began with captain Alastair Cook completing a morale-boosting century – his first in England colours since a tour game in Hobart in November 2013 – and there were also cheap half-centuries banked by Ian Bell and Joe Root.

England declared on 379 for six at tea, Cook and Bell having retired to share the feast with the rest of the batting order.

But as the game meandered sleepily along at sun-soaked Warner Park the merits of facing a chronically under-powered St Kitts & Nevis XI were increasingly questionable.

Cook decided to call it a day having made 101 in 198 deliveries and could probably have batted all day without being removed.

Bell followed suit, walking off with 59 to his name immediately after Root was given lbw for 64.

That double change allowed all-rounder Ben Stokes and 
wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to spend some time in the middle, with the former taking advantage in making a cavalier 41 in 50 balls.

Earlier, Cook had resumed on 95 not out and wasted no time doing the necessary. He sent the first ball of the morning to the third man boundary – via a controlled thick edge – and brought up his ton with a nudged two into the on-side.

It was hardly a memorable 
innings but should at least offer a psychological boost for a player whose reputation for batting long and scoring big has tailed off in the last couple of years.

His relief manifested itself in a dignified waft of the bat and a handshake for Gary Ballance, who was finding life less comfortable.

Ballance was struggling for fluency and dug himself into something of a rut by the time he departed for 16.

He was undone by the left-arm spin of Elvin Berridge, who has never played first-class cricket and was used last week as a net bowler by England.

Ballance was the author of his own downfall, turning Berridge straight to short leg.

Root was next man in and almost immediately overtook Bell, who was holding his end in watchful fashion.

Root showed an attacking intent that had been missing from the top four, looking to score from the off but lacking some of the requisite timing.

He would have scored more freely had Steve Liburd not been stationed at silly point, with Root hitting him on three separate occasions in the same over.

His lively innings should have ended on 19 when Quinton Boatswain took the new ball and immediately found the outside edge.

The ball sailed straight into Jacques Taylor’s hands at first slip and bounced straight out again, much to the bowler’s frustration. Jeremiah Louis found some swing from the other end, and hit a solid line and length to quell the scoring rate.

Both Root and Bell eased to 50s in the afternoon session, in 83 and 82 balls respectively, but all the impetus had evaporated from proceedings.

Root fell lbw to Leon Clarke and took Bell with him to the pavilion to give Stokes and Buttler a chance. Buttler made 18, but Stokes raced to 41 in a flurry of boundaries before holing out to bring on the declaration.

England, having given up on the game as a competitive affair, added Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood to their side for the second innings, which had 35 overs to run.