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March 2, 2009
Fidel Edwards was the man everyone was talking about overnight and this morning: the one bowler to have extracted any life from this surface. He charged in from his first over, but immediately had problems with Aleem Dar who was unhappy with the follow through. It seemed to unsettle Edwards as Dar spoke to him a few more times, while Chris Gayle also got involved for a moment. Once England had weathered the early barrage their task was fairly straightforward.
One of the few chances that came West Indies' way on the final day was when Alastair Cook went to slog-sweep Sulieman Benn and got a big top edge towards deep midwicket. Brendan Nash, who isn't the tallest, turned and sprinted at full pace to try and get under the catch. At the final moment he seemed to be nearly there and pulled out a dive, managing to get his hand on the ball but unable to hold on. How he probably wished he was 6ft 7in like Benn.
After his four frontline options had failed to break through, Chris Gayle brought himself on and did the trick with his fifth ball. Andrew Strauss, who had been playing so comfortably yet again, went back to cut a ball that was too close and got a bottom edge into the stumps. West Indies captain 1, England captain 0 on this occasion.
Stuck on 99
It isn't as though Cook hadn't approached Test centuries before, but it's the fact it had been 14 months (and 16 Tests) since his previous ton that made the final run seem so tough. When he cut Gayle through backward point to move to 99 it was enough to become the youngest England batsman to reach 3000 Test runs, but he stayed on 99 for 11 balls before finally managing to whip Ryan Hinds past mid-on for three. His celebrations were low-key - this was a comfortable hundred - but inside it will have been a huge release.
After tea West Indies needed another substitute - Lendl Simmons was already on the field - so called into service their assistant coach David Williams. The last Test Williams played was on this ground, against England, in 1998 so his brief comeback was well timed. He was a bundle of energy in the field, skipping about from slip like a little kid and being cheered by the other players. It was that sort of afternoon.
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