Close England 313 for 5 (Trescothick 105, Thorpe 61) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
One day, Marcus Trescothick may learn what it is that makes him tick. Until that day comes, however, he will continue to enthral his fans with innings such as this - an effortlessly superior 105 from 182 balls - and frustrate them with periods in the doldrums, such as that which befell him in the Caribbean earlier this year, when he mustered just 78 runs in seven innings.
Today, however, he banished all memories of that grim run of form with a thumpingly confident performance. After hurtling to his fifty in a breakneck first hour, Trescothick throttled back and bedded down, and didn't reach three figures until the penultimate over before tea. His century was the bedrock of England's close-of-play total of 313 for 5, and was made all the more valuable because it came in spite of a much-improved West Indian bowling performance, in which Dwayne Bravo was once again instrumental.
After winning a good toss, England rampaged to 76 for 0 in the first 15 overs, on a placid pitch that caused scarcely a murmur of discomfort, and at that stage England had visions of emulating the 391 for 2 that they racked up on the opening day of the series. It was a much-changed attack - neither Fidel Edwards nor the injured Tino Best made the final XI - but the first impressions were all too familiar, as Trescothick brought up his fifty from 61 balls.
Trescothick had a quiet match at Lord's, but in the first hour today, he was unstoppable, using his heavy bat to pepper the deep-cover boundary with rasping drives, and capitalising on the slightest hint of width. Pedro Collins was scythed for three fours in an over, and even Corey Collymore, whose probing line and length was a welcome addition to Brian Lara's armoury, could not stem the flow.
It required a rush of blood at the other end of the pitch to upset England's applecart. Trescothick had utterly dominated his 77-run opening stand with Andrew Strauss, who had been his usual compact self, taking few risks but missing few chances to score. His first 21 runs included five cleanly struck fours, and he seemed quite content to play second fiddle when, quite out of the blue, he aimed an expansive carve at a wide delivery from Jermaine Lawson, and found a thin edge through to Ridley Jacobs.
It was a timely wicket, and when West Indies emerged with a keen resolve after lunch, they made two more vital breakthroughs. Despite his sound eye for a scoring opportunity, Robert Key's slight weakness outside off stump was highlighted in a tight spell from Collins, who beat him twice before finding the edge at the third time of asking, as he flinched a simple chance to Brian Lara at first slip.
In Key's place came Michael Vaughan, who instantly oozed class and seemed odds-on to make it four centuries in as many innings against West Indies. But, after clipping Bravo off his toes for four and stroking him dreamily through the covers in the same over, Vaughan allowed himself to get carried away, and Bravo clung onto a firm return catch at the second attempt.
Trescothick was undaunted, however, and continued to show the same sort of judgment that earned him a century on a far spicier pitch at Headingley last month. He moved into the nineties with a belting cut for four, and in fact his only moment of concern came on 99, when he launched into a full-blooded drive off Omari Banks, only for the ball to clatter painfully into Ramnaresh Sarwan's shin at silly point. Momentarily distracted, Trescothick played and missed at his next ball, but at the third attempt he picked the gap and raised his bat.
Trescothick went to tea on 103 not out, but he didn't last long afterwards, as Bravo bowled from wide of the crease to exploit that familiar weakness to the angled delivery. Trescothick couldn't resist a swish outside off, and Lara at slip caught a flying edge at the second attempt. But Graham Thorpe picked up the cudgels with another half-century, and with Andrew Flintoff biding his time, England were still pushing on towards a 400-plus total.
At 210 for 4, Thorpe's first fifty of the series was a timely affair, as another quick breakthrough could have had England in a spot of bother. But his whipped pull was to the fore, as he and Flintoff rattled along to a 52-run partnership. It did eventually cause his downfall, as he under-edged Collymore onto his thigh and through to Jacobs, but Flintoff responded with a towering six, as Banks dropped in a long-hop in the very next over.
With Banks settling in for a probing spell of offspin, Lara resisted the temptation to turn to the new ball, and it was something of a surprise when the umpires offered the light to the batsmen with four overs to go. England had little to gain and much to lose by remaining in the middle, and tomorrow morning's duel between Flintoff, Geraint Jones and the new ball will be instrumental in deciding the outcome of a contest that, so far, is pretty finely balanced.