WI tour: Alastair Cook scores first century for England since 2013
England captain Alastair Cook completed a confidence-boosting century on the second morning of England's first tour match in the West Indies
St Kitts: England captain Alastair Cook completed a confidence-boosting century on the second morning of England's first tour match in the West Indies. Cook resumed on 95 and reached three figures with minimal fuss before retiring to allow the rest of the line-up time in the middle.
The modest nature of the St Kitts & Nevis Invitation XI made it one of the simpler hundreds he has ever scored but after being ditched from the one-day side on the eve of the World Cup, any runs are welcome.
Cook, whose last England ton came in a tour game at Hobart in November 2013, finished with 101 from 200 deliveries. At lunch England were 261 for three, with Ian Bell on 28no and Joe Root on 37no.
Cook steered a thick edge to the boundary from the first ball of the day to reach 99 and in the following over punched the ball for two off the back foot. He offered a gentle wave of the bat and a handshake to partner Gary Ballance before heading back to the pavillion.
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. The number three will get another chance, perhaps two, before the Test series begins and will be looking to regain some of the touch that brought him three Test hundreds last summer.
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 entirely absent 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 in to 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.
England's contented progress continued unchecked at the start of the afternoon session. Bell was noticeably improved, reacquainting himself with the cover drive and the late cut to good effect.
Root was first to 50 though, getting there in 83 balls with a dismissive pull for four off Sheeno Berridge. Bell was not far behind, and took one fewer delivery to post a low-key half-century.
The game shifted when Leon Clarke, added to the home side having not featured on day one, won an lbw decision against Root. Root was attempting to work the ball off his pads but was trapped full and straight with 64 to his name.
That persuaded Bell that he had also seen enough, the Warwickshire batsman retiring on 59. That brought Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler out to sample the home team's generous bowling with the scoreboard reading 320 for five.