England in control


BRIDGETOWN, February 27 – Andrew Strauss hit his 16th Test hundred and Alastair Cook was eyeing his eighth in a record opening stand for England before tea in the fourth Test against West Indies on Thursday.

ENGLAND_CRICKETStrauss was undefeated on 136 and Cook was not out on 84, as England reached 221 without loss in their first innings at the break on the opening day at Kensington Oval.

Strauss reached his hundred, when he struck his 150th ball from spinner Sulieman Benn over mid-wicket for a six onto the roof of the Greenidge and Haynes Stand.

Cook had earlier passed 50 for the third straight innings time in the series, when he steered Benn to third man for two in the first half-hour after lunch.

The two continued to bat England into a formidable position, and they set a new England opening record against West Indies to eclipse the mark of 212 set by Reg Simpson and Cyril Washbrook 59 years ago at Nottingham.

Before lunch, Strauss had hit a crisp half-century and Cook had given unshakeable support to give England a bright start.

England reached 108 without loss at lunch as the two openers helped themselves to easy runs, after the visitors chose to bat on a hard, true pitch.

Strauss reached 50 from 71 balls, when he drove Benn through cover for his eighth boundary, but it appeared to be a nervous period for the England captain.

The ball after he reached the milestone, he edged Benn past a diving Devon Smith at slip for his ninth four, and then on 58, he was dropped by West Indies captain Chris Gayle at first slip off Fidel Edwards.

England made three changes to their side from the previous Test with Ravi Bopara, Tim Ambrose, and Ryan Sidebottom replacing Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior, and Steve Harmison.

West Indies were unchanged, and they lead the five-Test series 1-0, following an innings and 23-run victory in the opening Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, the abandonment of the second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and a draw in the third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.