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Cook ends hundred drought but WI take honours

England 240 for 7 (Cook 105) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Dobell: England masters of their own demise

England captain Alastair Cook recorded his first Test century in just under two years, but West Indies are still on top in the third Test match, in Barbados

A popular number during this series has been the days since Alastair Cook scored a hundred, even if only on a small percentage of them could he physically have made a century. The counter can be reset to zero now after he batted into the final over of the opening day in Barbados, holding a faltering England display together, to score his 26th Test hundred and first since May 2013.

As the shadows lengthened across Kensington Oval, Cook clipped Shannon Gabriel off his toes from his 259th delivery for a boundary which meant he could acknowledge three figures at international level after almost two years. There was a prolonged standing ovation from the England supporters who had helped fill out the ground and lengthy applause from his team-mates on the balcony.

Yet while Cook took the personal honours West Indies ended the happier team, especially when Cook fell to what became the last delivery of the day as he edged a cut against Marlon Samuels to leave England 240 for 7 after deciding to bat first. On a surface that started suggesting some pace, then showed signs of turn, it will be difficult to judge a score until West Indies bat - but the home side are certainly in with a chance of levelling the series.

Talk about Cook's form in Test cricket was well on its way to being quashed before this innings and the pressure on him early in this tour was often imbalanced due to his pre-Christmas difficulties in the one-day game, which led to his axe in that format and various other issues within English cricket. But after the low point of the India Test at Lord's year - Cook admitted he almost quit the captaincy - he had scored five fifties in eight innings before today, including two in Grenada last week, to show that, even if they were rarely fluent, the hunger remained.

A hundred, though, was needed, if only to stop the counting and the discussion. His immense reserves of mental fortitude were on show, playing to his strengths of leaving the ball and latching on to anything short, although the cover drive was making the occasional return even if it did not often find a gap. He did not give a clear life, although may have edged a no-ball from Jerome Taylor on 5 and replays suggested he clipped Veerasammy Permaul to short leg on 22, with Jermaine Blackwood getting fingers under the ball, but as usual the umpires erred on the side of caution.

However it was far from the perfect day for Cook. His top order wobbled and he was also the guilty party in the run out of Moeen Ali for 58 who was playing increasingly confidently in a stand of 98 for the fifth wicket, which had lifted England from 91 for 4 when the in-form Joe Root was caught behind.

Before play Jason Holder, appearing on his home ground where was honoured by his local club, Wanderers, had sounded slightly foreboding when speaking of a batsman's surface. What transpired was a dry pitch that already showed signs of turn; West Indies' two spinners, Permaul, recalled in place of the injured Devendra Bishoo, and Samuels, sent down 46.2 overs between with Samuels, who was introduced for the 11th over, sending down 26.2 of them.

The statistics - which, whisper it quietly, England were surely aware of - also do not back up the theory of this ground being a road for Tests in recent seasons. In the previous two Tests the highest innings total had been 331 (albeit one of those matches involved Zimbabwe) while since England's last visit, in 2009, when 600 for 6 played 749 for 9 and everyone went home, only two innings - when Australia faced West Indies - have crossed 400.

England, as was always the likeliest route, did not change their XI once Ben Stokes passed a fitness test on his back although the evidence of the opening day, closely witnessed by Cook for more than six hours, ought to have at least made them ponder whether Adil Rashid should have been in this team rather than shortly flying to Ireland for next week's ODI.

But it was pace which did the early damage. Shannon Gabriel was again sharp, delivering a potentially decisive blow to Jonathan Trott's Test career, although he was sparsely used. This was especially surprising against Moeen, who had his technique worked over by the Indian quicks last summer and, to a lesser extent, at the World Cup. Holder, showing no ill-effects after turning his ankle on the final day in Grenada, claimed two in the morning session which left England 38 for 3.

For much of the day, West Indies managed to keep a lid on the scoring rate. On a couple of occasions England threatened to cut loose, firstly when the counter-punching Root was hustling along after lunch and then later when there was a little pressure applied after tea. However, Root edged Permaul as he played off the back foot and for the second time in consecutive innings Moeen, after driving and sweeping strongly in 109-ball fifty, was run out.

Although this time most of the blame was attached to Cook, there appeared to be a white-flag from Moeen halfway through the run. The tone of wastefulness continued until the end of the day when Stokes guided a late cut to gully to give Gabriel his second, followed by Cook's tired cut.

However, while Cook ended one talking point another gained a greater head of steam. His fellow opener Trott fell third ball in ugly fashion when he flapped a short ball from Gabriel into the leg side. It was his third nought of the series - the first England batsman to notch that unwanted record in a series of three matches or fewer - but it was the manner of the dismissal, rather than just the scoreless innings, which had a sense of finality about it. Chances of his Test career extending beyond this series now appear slim.

After the surfaces in Antigua and Grenada the sight of deliveries skimming with good pace and carry to the keeper with the new ball provided early excitement, although it did not last. To his third ball, Trott began a forward movement to Gabriel, who was already touching 90mph, and was then in a horrid tangle against a well-directed short delivery as he fended it away off the top of the bat into the leg side where Permaul sprinted in from square leg to hold a low catch. Trott's head went down, and stayed that way back to the dressing room. The future, in the likes of Adam Lyth and Alex Hales, was lurking.

He was not the only duck, though, in the morning, with Ian Bell also failing to score when he bunted a return catch to the impressive Holder, which followed his removal of Gary Ballance when he speared a full delivery between bat and pad. From there it could have been better for West Indies and worse for England; by the close the feeling was probably reversed.

West Indies 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st35KC BrathwaiteSD Hope
2nd0DM BravoKC Brathwaite
3rd35MN SamuelsDM Bravo
4th10S ChanderpaulDM Bravo
5th108DM BravoJ Blackwood
6th6D RamdinJ Blackwood