Generated with Avocode. Generated with Avocode.
14th May 2009

2nd npower Test Match Latest News

Alastair Cook appeared to exorcise any lingering demons by striking his ninth Test century on a day of dominance for England at Chester-le-Street.

Cook went 27 innings without a century between the tour of Sri Lanka in 2006-07 and the fourth Test at Bridgetown, but he demonstrated his renewed confidence as a Test opener with a 209-ball hundred, on an admittedly benign surface at the Riverside.

He and Essex team-mate Ravi Bopara (79 not out) put on 166 for the second wicket, as England reached 235 for one by drinks in the evening session on the first day, laying the foundations for a mammoth total that would secure the Wisden Trophy.

Bopara, England’s new number three, has in his sights a third successive Test century, a rare accolade at such an early stage of a Test career. In his last two innings, Bopara made 104 at the Kensington Oval and 143 at Lord’s.

England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss on a chilly morning and elected to bat first, with both teams unchanged from the first npower Test at Lord’s.

West Indies’ pacemen persevered with a line wide of off stump for the first few overs, until Strauss forced them to bowl straighter with a couple of square drives for four.

Cook hooked confidently off Fidel Edwards and Lionel Baker, but lost his partner to the second over of spin with the score at 69.

Strauss, trying to sweep Chris Gayle, was strangled down leg side by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. who juggled before holding on.

Cook then edged Gayle just short of first slip’s fingertips just prior to lunch, which England took at 85 for one.

Gayle retained spin from both ends after the resumption, but he and Sulieman Benn were milked too easily for ones and twos, allowing Cook to bring up his 20th Test half-century, from 108 balls.

Bopara moved without alarm into the thirties, but was fortunate to survive a lazy clip just short of Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid wicket.

The right-hander reached his fifty with his seventh four, a tickle through fine leg. But it was evident from Bopara’s unusually reserved body language that he regarded this as just the beginning.

Shortly after, Bopara had a real let-off, leg-glancing Baker behind, where Ramdin could only get a fingertip to a decent chance.

Cook began to expand his range approaching tea, coming down the track to play a full-blooded pull-drive through mid wicket.

And little changed in the evening session, as the batsmen continued to pick off the odd loose ball amid otherwise accurate bowling.

Amid an unremarkable passage of play, Bopara had one isolated moment of alarm which he transformed to his advantage.

Medium-pacer Lendl Simmons produced an inswinging yorker which caused Bopara to overbalance, but he dug it out by flicking through mid wicket for four.

Cook endured a nervy couple of balls on 99, but went to three figures with another controlled haul to leg. Bopara reached his century soon after, but was eventually dismissed for 108 20 minutes before the end of play. James Andreson was sent in as a nightwatchman and will resume in the morning on 4. Alastair Cook will resume on 126.

Day Two: Play was abandoned for the day at 16.00pm. No play was possible.

Day Three: Play started on time at 11.00AM. England batted confidently throughout the day moving to 569/6 at tea. Andrew Strauss declared at tea, putting the tourists into bat for the final session. England then reduced the West Indies to 94/3 at the close of play with James Anderson bowling impressively to take 3 for 36. Local lad Graham Onions returned figures of 7-3-15-0 in an economical spell.

Day Four: Play is scheduled to start on time at 11.00AM. England will be hoping for quick wickets in the morning session to put themselves in a winning position. Tickets are still available on the gate, priced from £35 for adults and £10 for juniors.

Day Five: Play is scheduled to start on time at 11.00am.  Tickets can be purchased on the gate from 9.00am priced at £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.