Strauss leads from front as England take control

England 301-3 v West Indies

Captaincy can have a strange effect on a batsman. The burden of collective responsibility can provoke introspection at the crease, a reduction of personal powers leading to long-term decline and the need for psychological help.

This is otherwise known as utter tosh in Andrew Strauss's lexicon on leadership. Once more he led England from the front yesterday: his century on the first day of the fourth Test was his 16th in Tests, his second of the series and his fourth in 15 innings as the side's captain. The role seems to galvanise him. He had spoken about inflicting scoreboard pressure on the West Indies and he followed both the spirit and the letter of his entreaty.

On another unfeasibly blameless wicket it looked as though it might be the most potent weapon at England's disposal. Strauss and Alastair Cook shared an opening partnership of 229, the highest for the first wicket since Strauss and Marcus Trescothick put on 273 at Durban in 2004. Perhaps more significantly, it was England's largest of all against the West Indies, beating the 212 of Cyril Washbrook and Reg Simpson at Trent Bridge in 1950.

No matter how much records are made only to be broken, it is always slightly sad to see the old ones fall. For England it was necessary to do something of this nature if they are to draw level in this series, not least because by the end of the first day they had been dragged back by the home side.

The tourists' glittering start, in which runs flowed at more than three an over, came to a shuddering halt in the final session. At lunch, they were 108 without loss from 30 overs, at tea 221 without loss from 62, at the close 301 for 3 from 90 – identical to the first-day total in the dramatic draw in Antigua. Had Kevin Pietersen been caught for 20 when he hooked Fidel Edwards to long leg – Jerome Taylor making a porridge of it – England might have been in real trouble.

West Indies were again rewarded for simply hanging on in there, a virtue not many would have accused them of possessing at the beginning of this series. Strauss, badly dropped on 58 by Chris Gayle at slip off Fidel Edwards was the dominant and more fluent partner in his sixth three-figure stand with Cook. For Cook, having shared in a record and scored 94 precious runs, there was, paradoxically, the grim feeling of failure. It was his 27th consecutive Test innings without a hundred but also the 11th in that sequence when he has not converted a half-century into a century.

From the moment he reached 80 or so yesterday he was agitated, his feet suddenly refusing to obey his brain, his shot-making choices anxious. He offered a top-edged chance on 85 and edged between wicketkeeper and slip on 86. Another more authentic boundary took him to 94, but then he essayed another hook, miscued and was caught at midwicket. Cook has already confessed that the run without a century is a monkey on his back and a gibbon is rapidly transmogrifying into a gorilla. Counselling may be the next step.

England were hoping for, indeed expecting, pace and bounce. It was apparent in the first 15 minutes that these two qualities were absent and theories propounded by many observers on the various successful methods by which any side might take 20 wickets to win the match all involved cheating or sharp practice, unless the surface wears as the match goes on.

But the tourists could do no more than they did after winning the toss. This was perhaps the acme of the transformation in Strauss's fortunes, though he will be well aware of the fickleness of it all. Less than a year ago, against New Zealand in Napier, he was playing for his career.

The elevation to the captaincy appears to have energised him. In 2006, when he performed the role in a caretaker capacity, he made two hundreds against Pakistan. Overlooked afterwards, he stalled slightly.

He regained some form, scoring two hundreds, in England's defeat by India in Chennai in December. This is the flourishing renaissance of a man who answered the call of his country after the Peter Moores-Pietersen imbroglio led to their being deposed in the first week of January. He has cut an impressive figure since, calm, thoughtful and authoritative, but the beating his side took in the first Test in Kingston may still have an enduring effect on this series.

Strauss was eventually undone by a stupendous ball from Daren Powell, a yorker which was aimed at the batsman's feet and swung devilishly late. The poor batsman was upended as he took evasive action and his stumps were splayed. Cook followed five overs late and an inept innings by Owais Shah ended with a lunge to slip.

In their desperation to draw level, the tourists made three changes. Two – Ravi Bopara for the injured Andrew Flintoff and Tim Ambrose for Matthew Prior who is on paternity leave – were expected. Ryan Sidebottom's inclusion at the expense of Stephen Harmison was surprising, particularly as it was expected that the pitch might be bouncy. It is not and whatever happens here it is conceivable that Harmison's mercurial international career is done.

*An announcement is expected today on the future of Andrew Flintoff on the West Indies tour. He had continuing treatment at the Kensington Oval yesterday and seems certain to miss the final Test in Trinidad.

Ball of the day

It took until the 65th over but, boy, it was worth waiting for. It was a viciously late- swinging yorker from Daren Powell which knocked Andrew Strauss from his feet and splayed his stumps. Electrifying stuff.

Shot of the day

Strauss's uncharacteristic slog sweep for six off Sulieman Benn to bring up his hundred. It was only the eighth six in his 108th Test innings and was the assertion of a man at the top of his game.

Moment of the day

In the 55th over Alastair Cook nudged the ball routinely to leg, he and Strauss strolled a single and England had their first first-wicket double-century partnership for more than four years and only their 17th in all. Whatever the pitch, they are worth savouring.

Kensington Oval Scoreboard

First day of five, close of play; England won toss

England – First Innings

*A J Strauss b Powell 142, 250 min, 210 balls, 18 fours, 1 six

A N Cook c Hinds b Taylor 94, 275 min, 187 balls, 9 fours, 1 six

O A Shah c Smith b Benn 7, 66 min, 47 balls, 1 four

K P Pietersen not out 32, 95 min, 64 balls, 3 fours

P D Collingwood not out 11, 53 min, 36 balls, 2 fours

Extras (b5 lb1 w5 nb4) 15

Total (for 3, 371 min, 90 overs) 301

Fall: 1-229 (Strauss) 2-241 (Cook) 3-259 (Shah).

To bat: R S Bopara, †T R Ambrose, S C J Broad, G P Swann, R J Sidebottom, J M Anderson.

Bowling: Taylor 18-5-45-1 (7-3-16-0, 4-0-11-0, 4-1-10-1, 3-1-8-0); Edwards 14-0-64-0 (nb3 w5) (3-0-11-0, 4-0-12-0, 4-0-20-0, 3-0-21-0); Powell 17-3-72-1 (nb1) (5-0-33-0, 3-0-16-0, 7-3-14-1, 2-0-9-0); Benn 16-4-59-1 (7-1-32-0, 4-0-21-0, 5-3-6-1); Gayle 15-4-28-0 (4-3-4-0, 11-1-24-0); Hinds 4-0-18-0 (one spell); Nash 6-1-9-0 (2-0-3-0, 4-1-6-0).

Progress: First day: 50: 68 min, 14 overs. 100: 116 min, 27.5 overs. Lunch: 108-0 (Strauss 71, Cook 37) 30 overs. 150: 166 min, 41.1 overs. 200: 216 min, 54.4 overs. Tea: 221-0 (Strauss 136, Cook 84) 62 overs. 250: 298 min, 74 overs. New ball taken after 84 overs at 260-3. 300: 369 min, 89.3 overs.

Strauss's 50: 93 min, 71 balls, 8 fours. 100: 169 min, 144 balls, 15 fours, 1 six. Cook's 50: 150 min, 95 balls, 4 fours, 1 six.

West Indies: *C H Gayle, D S Smith, R R Sarwan, R O Hinds, S Chanderpaul, B P Nash, †D Ramdin, J E Taylor, S J Benn, D B L Powell, F H Edwards.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and R B Tiffin (Zim).

TV replay umpire: D J Harper.

Match referee: A G Hurst.

60.57 runs

Andrew Strauss's Test batting average during his two spells as captain. When not in charge he averages 41.04.

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried