Cook eyeing ton as England dominate tour game against St Kitts Invitational
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC):
Captain Alistair Cook coasted to the brink of a hundred, as England made an enterprising start to their tour of the Caribbean by dominating a St Kitts Invitational XI on the opening day of their first two-day game here yesterday.
At the close at Warner Park, the tourists were 181 for one in their first innings, in reply to St Kitts' paltry 59 all out.
The left-handed Cook was unbeaten on 95, while Jonathan Trott scored 72, the pair adding 158 for the first wicket before being separated.
Cook has so far faced 188 deliveries in just over four hours at the crease and counted 10 fours and a six, while the right-handed Trott struck nine fours off 149 balls in a knock consuming 3-3/4 hours.
The pair carried England to 65 without loss at the tea interval, before controlling the final session, spending precious time at the crease ahead of next week's first Test against West Indies.
Off-spinner Steve Liburd got the only wicket, when he had Trott caught at short leg by Ross Powell. Gary Balance, unbeaten on nine, joined Cook to see England safely to the close without further loss.
Earlier, England's seamers crippled the St Kitts Invitational innings, after the hosts won the toss and opted to bat. Ben Stokes led with three for 10, while Stuart Broad (2-16) and the Barbados-born Chris Jordan (2-19) finished with two wickets apiece.
Jason Peters, batting at number seven, top scored with 22, while openers Shane Jeffers (11) and Sherwin Peters (10) were the only other two batsmen to make it into double figures.
They added 18 before seamer James Anderson removed Peters in the morning's ninth over, and Powell then fell to a catch at slip by Cook off Stokes for six with the score on 27.
Two balls later in the same over, Jeffers was taken at point by Balance, and when Liburd was snared at slip by Cook off Stokes, St Kitts had slumped to 32 for four and never recovered.