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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Alistair Cook
Cook got his century after falling short with 97 in the first innings

Alastair Cook's eighth Test century - and probably his least fluent - secured England their draw on a pitch on which only 17 wickets fell from start to finish.

It is a shame that such a beautifully remodelled cricket ground should have such a road as its centrepiece, but hopefully the ground staff here will learn valuable lessons from these five days.

This was Cook's first hundred in 28 innings. He has passed fifty 11 times in that period, but contrived to get himself out in ways that must seriously have aggravated him.

Cook is still young and might very well score more Test runs for England than anyone else over the coming years, and he will have gained valuable experience from the past 14 frustrating months - as the old 'uns will tell you: when you get in, you stay in!

Apart from Cook's hundred, the final day had little to commend it.

Kevin Pietersen's half century was not taxing, and so inevitably attention drifted to what England can, or will do to their team for the final game in Port of Spain.

Bearing in mind that England were strongly fancied to win this series, their position is deeply disappointing.

They have to go for the win now, even at the risk of losing, and they have to take a long look at every aspect of their game and make changes.

In the event of their needing five bowlers, which seems inevitable, one of Ravi Bopara (who scored a hundred in Barbados) or Owais Shah (recently handed an 'extended run' at number three) will have to go. If it is Shah, who bats at number three?

And what of the wicketkeepers? I rather take Geoff Boycott's view that Matt Prior's decision to go home to visit a baby that had already been delivered perfectly safely seemed unnecessary.

Tim Ambrose kept well, and scored 76 not out - but I expect England would prefer Prior at number six even if he has been away from the game for over a week.

Apart from Ryan Sidebottom - who looks to be struggling here - every bowler will be seriously considered, and that includes Amjad Khan and Adil Rashid.

I do not think it is sensible to play both of them, but Amjad's prospects depend on how Steve Harmison responds in the nets to his recent demotion.

There could be a return for Monty Panesar, giving England two spinners for the first time in this series when, in fact, they could have played in every match.

It is, literally, a case of starting from scratch for this one-off Test match.

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see also
Cook ton helps England earn draw
02 Mar 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
01 Mar 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
01 Mar 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
27 Feb 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
27 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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