Cook and Trott post 125 for strong first wicket

Alastair Cook's innings of 76 is brought to an end as the England captain is bowled by West Indies' Shannon Gabriel  Picture: AP
Alastair Cook's innings of 76 is brought to an end as the England captain is bowled by West Indies' Shannon Gabriel Picture: AP
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Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott shared England’s first century opening stand in more than two years as the tourists closed in on a lead in the second Test against West Indies.

Trott (59) and Cook (76) posted 125 for the first wicket, responding to concerns about their form with a determined partnership that laid the foundations for a tea total of 253 for three.

That left the tourists just 46 behind, with Joe Root hitting a fluent half-century as he and Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance added an unbroken 89.

The last time England’s first-wicket partnership reached three figures was against New Zealand at Dunedin in March 2013, when Cook and his then partner Nick Compton put on 231.

It has been a lean time at the head of the innings since then, with Compton, Root, Michael Carberry and Sam Robson all failing to establish themselves alongside Cook.

Both openers had been in the spotlight before the match, Cook looking to score his first hundred in 34 innings and Trott battling to justify his recall after 18 months away from international cricket.

A solid start on the second evening meant they resumed on 74 for nought with everything from the clear blue skies to the lack of seam movement in their favour. But the first session was a slow grind, yielding 69 runs in 34 overs for the solitary wicket of Trott.

The batting was cautious but controlled, intent on building a platform. There were just three boundaries in the morning, only one of which – a wonderfully timed on-drive by Trott – showed real intent.

The landmarks ticked by without fanfare, both men passing 50 with a single and the hundred coming up with a jogged two off Devendra Bishoo.

Cook has now scored ten half-centuries since last converting, but for Trott it was a first since August 2013, since when a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

His hopes of more runs evaporated when he was drawn out by Bishoo, pushing at a delivery tossed up at off stump and feeding Jermaine Blackwood at second slip.

Bishoo might also have had Cook before the break when he turned one into the left-hander’s pad as he propped forward in defence.

Denesh Ramdin’s decision to review a not out verdict initially appeared a good one but HawkEye only showed the ball clipping the top of the middle.

Cook would have been back in the pavilion had the on-field decision been out, but he could not make the most of his chance in the afternoon.

He added only nine runs after the restart, four of them pulled off one knee as Bishoo dropped short.

Shannon Gabriel went round the wicket to angle one into Cook, who attempted a positive shot but dragged a skiddy delivery into his stumps.

His 211-ball stay was not the work of a man at the peak of his powers, but it was a welcome throwback to the doughty determination of his early career.

Gabriel struck again at the start of his next over.

This time he persuaded the right-handed Ian Bell to follow Cook’s example, with a big inside edge uprooting off stump.

That left England 164 for three, but Yorkshire pair Root and Ballance steadied the ship nimbly.

Ballance got the wheels moving with three boundaries in the space of ten balls, punishing a pair of wider ones from Kemar Roach and handing Bishoo a sweetly-timed off drive.

Root was even quicker to move through the gears, punishing a pair of tired efforts from Bishoo and depositing Jason Holder to third man and fine leg.

A one over experiment with Blackwood’s spin coughed up 14 runs, six of them coming when Ballance flogged a long-hop into the stands.

Root’s half-century came from just 69 deliveries, with Ballance unbeaten on 47 at the interval.

Meanwhile, New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson will have to recover from a broken finger if he is to play in the Test series against England, starting next month.

All-rounder Anderson, who has ten Test caps, is to miss the remainder of the Indian Premier League season after suffering the injury with Mumbai Indians.

New Zealand are already set to arrive in England without several first-choice players, who will miss two tour matches and then fly in from the IPL just in time for the first Test at Lord’s.

Seamer Adam Milne, uncapped at Test level, is also out injured – after having to sit out the latter stages of the World Cup with a heel problem.