Cook double-century leaves WI with no place to hide
West Indies 44 for 1 (K Hope 25*, Powell 18*) trail England 514 for 8 dec (Cook 243, Root 136, Malan 65) by 470 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For the second day running, Edgbaston was a picture under lights - resplendent in the setting sun, as a tanked-up crowd sang gleefully into the advancing night. This time, however, their dulcet overtures were accompanied by the incessant thud of raindrops, as the down side of staging day-night Test cricket in England revealed itself in no uncertain terms.
The lights had been involved in the day's action for just seven overs of the evening session, in which time West Indies responded to another Alastair Cook magnum opus by inching along to 44 for 1, a deficit of 470. After the early loss of Kraigg Brathwaite for a duck, Kyle Hope and Kieran Powell were granted a life in the cordon apiece as they reached stumps on 25 and 18 respectively - their pride still just about as intact as their wickets.
But the day, and the match so far for that matter, belonged to Cook, who had resumed with intent on 153 overnight, and ground on, and on, and on, eventually falling to the spin of Roston Chase for a gargantuan 243 from 407 balls. His departure, deep into the tenth hour of his innings, triggered an immediate declaration and, as he left the field to a justified ovation, West Indies' fielders made a point of chasing after him to offer their congratulations - a magnanimous gesture that spoke of the huge esteem in which he is held by his opponents.
By that stage, he had run most of their team into the ground, in compiling his fourth Test double-century, and what would eventually be the third-highest of his 31 hundreds.
The sheer mental will that went into Cook's innings was amplified (Joe Root aside) by the relative paucity of the scores around him - Dawid Malan's 65 was the next largest contribution - but he might as well have been batting in the nets for all the resistance that was offered by a supine West Indies attack.
Rarely in the course of his 145-Test career can Cook have been less challenged by either the conditions or the opponents. His resumption in the morning was epitomised by the struggles that Kemar Roach, in particular, endured in his spirited but unsupported attempt to raise the collective levels of West Indies' attack.
Though he was obtaining some appreciable outswing with the still-new pink ball, the closest that Roach came to a breakthrough was when Cook, on 159, fell across his stumps to a delivery that struck his pads but was missing leg stump. He rarely missed out on his bread-and-butter clips off the pads thereafter, with Alzarri Joseph particularly culpable in that regard. All told, he conceded 20 boundaries in his 22 overs, a rate of attrition that rendered him unusable in the closing stages of the innings.
The manner in which Cook brought up his double-century epitomised the occasion's air of lethargy. On 198, he slashed the toiling Roach for a single to third man, only for the fielder, Kyle Hope, to trip over his own feet as the ball dribbled through his legs to the boundary. Cook acknowledged the crowd's ovation with an underwhelmed wave of the bat - a sign of enduring ambition, maybe, or an acknowledgement that it was all coming to him a bit too easily.
At the other end, of both the pitch and the career graph, Malan built on his overnight 28 to record his maiden Test fifty, a landmark that he achieved with a forceful pull through square leg in the final 20 minutes of the session. But then, on the stroke of lunch, he poked an off-stump delivery into the hands of Blackwood at slip, and stalked from the field swishing his bat in anger. He knew he could, and should, have piled on the agony deep into the afternoon session.
After enduring a sticky start to his innings on the first evening, Malan had been decidedly more assured this time out, with his cover-drive in particularly good order on two eye-catching occasions. He may not be offered quite so many half-volleys in Australia, should he go on to book his place on the Ashes tour, but it is a Test batsman's duty to take advantage when the going is in your favour - a lesson that his senior partner demonstrated admirably.
The final hour of England's innings heralded the start of what would prove to be West Indies' most effective mini-session to date. England shipped five wickets for 65 runs in the space of 18 overs, including the dangerous Ben Stokes and the in-form Jonny Bairstow, in their attempt to raise the tempo as the declaration drew nigh.
Stokes' departure was a particularly deflating moment for another packed crowd who had been nodding contently along to Cook's rhythms but were clearly ready to rock out in the afternoon session. Instead, on 10, Stokes attempted a reverse sweep and was smartly caught by an alert Jermaine Blackwood at slip, and the atmosphere went audibly flat. Bairstow soon followed, playing on to Jason Holder for 18, before Moeen Ali - never one to stick when he can twist, especially with a scoreline of 505 for 6 to back him up - slashed airily to point for a duck against Chase who finished with a hard-earned four-wicket haul.
By that stage, however, England were already in utter control of the contest. A combination of fallible catching - Stokes, unusually, let Powell elude him at gully before Moeen failed to lay a hand on Hope - and slightly less-than-pinpoint new-ball bowling from Broad, in particular, allowed West Indies to finish the day with more optimism than might have been anticipated. But the rain had the final say on a day that, Cook's feat notwithstanding, seemed tinged with grey throughout.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket