England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day June 9, 2007

Cook puts England in sight of series

West Indies 229 and 22 for 1 (Gayle 11*, Smith 10*) need 433 more runs to beat England 370 and 313 (Cook 106, Pietersen 68, Sammy 7-66)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Darren Sammy's seven wickets hurried England's innings to a close © Getty Images
Alastair Cook struck his sixth Test century as England set West Indies 455 on the third day at Old Trafford. He added 122 with Kevin Pietersen, against some undemanding bowling, but West Indies finally sprang into life during the final session as Darren Sammy claimed seven wickets on debut, the second best by a West Indian, including three in one eventful over. England still ended on a high as Steve Harmison struck with his third ball and Monty Panesar will be a major handful on a wearing surface.

West Indies' late resurgence, with England losing seven for 48 after Cook was trapped for 106, has come too late to save this match, or the series, but it enlivened a day which meandered along as England set their sights on a huge lead. The collapse meant a decision about declaring was taken out of Michael Vaughan's hands; the pace of England's innings suggested he would have batted all day. But the final eight overs brought them one wicket closer to victory with Daren Ganga ending a poor match, trapped on the crease by Harmison as in the first innings.

Throughout the series former players, who battled against the immense West Indian attacks of the 1970s and 1980s, have lamented the easy runs on offer from the current side, but the sight of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle - who bowled 16 overs despite his rib injury - looping down non-turning spin will have been close to the final straw. The England batsmen hardly had to break sweat during the first two sessions, except for the occasional burst of aggression from Fidel Edwards. Cook and Pietersen didn't want to waste the chance of Test runs, but were overly cautious at times even the normally effervescent Pietersen.

However, they were aided by fielding which, for large parts, lurched from amateurish to abysmal. Cook was handed a life, on 42, when Corey Collymore failed to get a hand on a top-edged hook. He played within himself, after being annoyed at giving his first-innings away on 60, and was determined to make the most of a boot-filling chance. Pietersen's sedate 68 was his first Test fifty at Old Trafford but, after being missed on 32 and 51, the opportunity of a century went in extraordinary circumstances. A Dwayne Bravo bouncer caught him by surprise, knocking off his helmet which then crashed into the stumps.

Alastair Cook had his fair share of luck, but continued his fine form © Getty Images
Cook's 198-ball wasn't as eye-catching as his effort at Lord's earlier in the series, but no other Englishmen has made six tons by the age of 22. Only Don Bradman (8), Sachin Tendulkar (8) and Javad Miandad (7) have managed more and Cook has seven Tests left to equal or surpass that record. For the second time this series he was trapped lbw by Gayle, despite replays showing the ball would have headed over the stumps, although Cook can't really complain about a lack of luck after the inside edge which was missed by Billy Bowden yesterday evening.

Shortly after Cook's dismissal Sammy, who claimed the first wicket of the day when he pulled off a reflex caught-and-bowled to remove Vaughan, began his tour de force. He wasn't used during the afternoon session, as Ganga preferred the gentle offerings of his part-time spinners, but was finally brought back into the attack after tea, seemingly to tie up an end as West Indies tried to make England bat as long as possible.

Sammy's 17th over set the ball rolling when the first delivery held its line to nick Ian Bell's edge. He followed up with a similar dismissal, as Matt Prior pushed at his opening delivery to register a first failure in Tests, and Sammy was on a hat-trick. That honour eluded him, but three balls later Liam Plunkett inside-edged onto his pad and Bravo pulled off a stunning catch, diving forward, at gully. Bravo had spent time having treatment on an ankle injury, but forgot all about that as he ran round in celebration. It was in stark contrast to the embarrassing efforts during the earlier stages of the day. A few moments later Bravo was keeping wicket after Denesh Ramdin took a blow under his right eye from a Gayle delivery which spat out of the rough.

Sammy polished off the innings, having Paul Collingwood taken at midwicket and Panesar at first slip, in the space of three balls and his figures slotted in behind Alf Valentine's 8 for 104, also at Old Trafford, in 1950 as the second best by a debutant for West Indies. A few more players with his spark and enthusiasm would leave West Indies in much better shape, but despite his memorable performance another series defeat should arrive later on Sunday.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo