Antigua and Barbuda v England A, Antigua, 1st day February 20, 2006

Cook underlines his credentials

Cricinfo staff

England A 341 for 8 (Cook 101, Louden 95, Tonge 4-48) v Antigua and Barbuda

Alastair Cook and Alex Loudon both impressed on the opening day of the tour of the Caribbean, as England A closed on 341 for 8 against Antigua and Barbuda at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Cook made a delightful 101 and Louden 95 as England made the most of winning the toss on an easy pitch. Cook and Michael Yardy (47) started with positive intent, putting on 82 for the first wicket with Yardy the more aggressive. He appeared set for a fifty before falling to Adam Sanford.

Owais Shah (18) was dismissed by Gavin Tonge immediately after lunch attempting an ambitious pull, and England A were in danger of losing their way when Tonge then removed Vikram Solanki (1) and Ed Joyce, caught behind for 0 in his first outing in England colours, to leave them wobbling on 126 for 4. In 23 balls after the break England had lost 3 for 8.

But Cook, who hit a double hundred against the Australians last summer, took up the challenge and hammered the bowling to all parts, edging Wilden Cornwall to slip shortly after bring up his hundred off 199 balls.

Loudon then took centre stage, and added 50 for the sixth wicket with Rikki Clarke (27) and then 92 for the seventh with Chris Read. Although Loudon and Gareth Batty (0) fell in the last two overs of the day, Read remained unbeaten on 40 and England A went home the happier side.