Fourth Test, Barbados (day five):
West Indies 749-9dec v England 600-6dec & 279-2 - match drawn
Alastair Cook recorded his first Test century since December 2007 as England batted out day five to draw the fourth Test against West Indies in Barbados.
The tourists, who resumed 143 runs shy of West Indies' first innings total on 6-0, lost Andrew Strauss before lunch.
Owais Shah fell after the interval before Cook (139) passed three figures for the eighth time in Tests.
Kevin Pietersen made 72 but the captains shook hands as England declared on 279-2, a lead of 130.
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1950: Eng 275-2
KP drills a driven four through cover to bring up the 150 partnership and go to 72. Is that it? It is - KP and Gayle shake hands, and a draw it is. West Indies will go into Friday's final Test 1-0 up in the series. We're done. Go and treat yourself to a cold one.
1948: Eng 275-2
The rest of the England players are lined up on the balcony with a football. I sense the end could be nigh.
1945: Eng 274-2
Cook glides to 137 with a sweetly-timed cover drive off Benn. Gayle has a chat with the two batsman - did I lip-read the word "declare and we'll call it quits" there?
1942: Eng 268-2
Full toss from Sarwan; Cook puts it away for the easiest four of his life. Is anyone still reading this?
From TrickieDickie in Hollywood:
"Not with a bang but
A whimper this test will fade
Away, like Ashes."
1937: Eng 262-2
With a tickle away, Cook goes to 128 - highest Test score in the bag. It's help-yourself time from now on.
1933: Eng 259-2
Wide and dropped short by Sarwan, and KP helps himself to a buffet four to go to 65 after Cook touches a single square to go to 126. Rumour is that the captains might call it quits in about 20 minutes. Hold tight, my friends, hold tight.
1930: Eng 254-2
KP briefly raises pulses with a switch-hit for two. Looks like Sarwan to have a tweak at the other end, with Cook now three runs short of his highest Test knock.
1927: Eng 250-2
Two more singles. England lead by 101. In associated news, the Windies have named an unchanged squad for the final Test, which starts in Trinidad on Friday.
1923: Eng 248-2
Hinds to Pietersen, and a heavy torpor hangs over the ground. Three pointless singles. The game is being kept going on a life support machine. Please someone pull out the plug.
1920: Eng 245-2
Single apiece for the batsmen off Powell. This could be the most meaningless session of cricket I've ever watched.
1910: Eng 243-2
Byes and more singles. KP to 55 off 84, Cook to 120 off 234. Eight needed by Cook for his highest Test score. Zero pressure being applied.
1910: Eng 238-2
A smattering of singles, greeted with supreme indifference from players and spectators alike.
1904: Eng 234-2
Hello - we've got Windies assistant coach David Williams fielding at leg slip - think he's on for Taylor, with sub fielders already on for Chanderpaul and Sarwan. Who said this final day wasn't an absolute belter?
1841: Eng 233-2
Hinds takes the final over of the afternoon session. KP's single takes him to 50; Cook paddles two more. England are 84 ahead. Only question now is how much meandering we'll do before everyone decides to call it off and head for the bar.
1837: Eng 230-2
Cook runs a full bunger away to third man for his 13th boundary as the clingfilm is removed from the sangers in the pavilion.
From Orson St John, TMS inbox: "Celebratory haiku:
The Cookie does not
Crumble, so at last he can
Hob Nob with others."
1833: Eng 225-2
Ah, that's nice - a late cut from Cook off Hinds to take him to 111. Seven minutes until tea.
From Steven Thomas, TMS inbox:
"Ageing's a pain: I
Keep calling Stuart Broad "Chris".
Good batsman, his dad."
1829: Eng 220-2
KP to 47 off 69 with a little dab-pull around the corner, and the partnership goes up to 91. Wind in the air, which could presage a quick rain shower.
From Exiled Addick in Kidderminster, TMS inbox: "When England declared they were dreaming/ Of a ball that was swinging and seaming/ But instead of all that/The wicket's dead flat/ And the spectators are barely still breathing."
1824: Eng 218-2
That's more like it from KP - a mighty smash down the ground for the first six of the day, just after Cook has a big escape when Smith at slip inexplicably spills a simple bat-pad effort. 16 minutes until tea, should you feel a thirst coming on.
From Jon Tunney, TMS inbox: "That the scribe was just bored, twas quite clear/ As words came right out of his rear/ His poem was trite/ Though that's meant as no slight/ As the Test was nowt but pure drear."
1821: Eng 207-2
Cook, freed from his shackles, plays away five dot balls and then nibbles a slow single. Rock and roll.
From Tony Brown, TMS inbox: "By the great poet John Cooper Clarke:
To convey one's mood
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffic."
1818: Eng 206-2
Next target for Cook - 128, to top his previous Test best. Might keep a little interest alive in this catatonic contest, anyway.
From Colin, TMS inbox: "To the best of my knowledge, haiku, when translated into the English equivalent, are 17 syllables in length, in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively... has this been pointed out yet? Some of those offered to date are merely short rhymes... fun-certainly, haiku-not."
1813: Eng 206-2
KP steps away to Gayle and creams two meaty fours off the back peg. And now Cook's back on strike - two dot balls, and then - that's it! A clip past mid-on, and that's his eighth Test ton. 11 fours, 193 balls. Off comes the lid, a big beaming smile appearing underneath, and he waves his blade to the applauding England balcony.
1810: Eng 195-2
KP slog-sweeps for four, and follows with a patted single. Two balls for Cook to nudge that single - but the nudges go straight to fielders. The wait goes on.
1807: Eng 190-2
Cook thought that was it, there - he drives Gayle through point, but the ball holds up on the outfield and he has to settle for two, and a temporary marooning on 99. He has clocked up 3,000 Test runs, however, and becomes the youngest Englishman to reach that landmark. Oohs from the remaining England fans, steaming gently in the stands.
1805: Eng 188-2
Very restrained from KP - a selection of dead bats to Hinds, concluding with a little edge that lands in front of first slip. Absolute nailed on chance if we'd been playing "one hand, once bounce" rules.
From David Harper, TMS inbox: "Haiku on English Cricket generally:
We invented it
Others got better than us
Better luck next time."
1801: Eng 186-2
Hinds again, and this could be just what Cook needs - a nurdle for two, another single to leg. 96 not out. A nervy silence hangs over the ground.
1759: Eng 182-2
Gayle returns to put the squeeze on Cook as the ton hoves into view. 93 now. Gulp. KP strolls down the pitch and advises him to go for successive sixes. Probably.
1755: Eng 178-2
Hold onto your seats - Cook races into the 90s with consecutive fours, one clipped off his pads and one driven beautifully between extra cover and mid-off. Fidel does the funky tea-pot.
From Neil in London, TMS inbox:
"Ian Bell, thwack!
There go your stumps again
1751: Eng 170-2
Hinds to continue after the break for refrescos. KP steers a thick edge past slip to go to 22. Is that Joel 'Big Bird' Garner in the crowd? And was Eddie Floyd's soul stomper of the same name a tribute to the pace-bowling legend?
From Thom Tuck, TMS inbox: "Dear sir, I am deeply concerned with the quality of haiku being thrown into the TMS textboard. As any student of the style knows, the final line must encapsulate a universal truth that was previously alluded to via a specific detail in the two prior lines. So. here goes:
He sweats, as he frets
Over his ginger eyebrows.
1743: Eng 166-2
Dicey from Cook - he spoons a drive against Edwards just over the head of short cover. But that's better - he middles an over-pitched one, and this one races away to the cover fence. 18 needed for his ton - which would be his first since December 2007, 27 innings ago. Drinks.
From Foxy, TMS inbox:
"Under Barbados sky
The paint became dry
And looked more exciting."
1740: Eng 157-2
Gayle calls for Hinds and his left-arm tweak. Smash - KP, left elbow high, drives him back down the ground for a lusty four.
1735: Eng 152-2
An hour from tea on day five
The Test match was barely alive
Will Cookie go on
And snaffle his ton?
Does he have enough skill to survive?
1730: Eng 151-2
An over of utter meander, although it's worth pointing out that England are now the equivalent of 2-2. What's that? Not enough excitement for you? You want all the commentary updates in limericks?
From Ian Shirley, TMS inbox: "Andrew Flintoff's bat/ Is heavier than Ambrose/ Tiny little man."
1725: Eng 147-2
Looks like Gayle wants to test KP with some pace here - Fidel Edwards has got the summons. KP races through for a dicey single as the stumps are thrown down by Powell at mid-on, but he's home by a couple of feet. Sun back out overhead.
From Rob Gallagher, TMS inbox: "He's not technically in the team (probably for the best) but I think he deserves a haiku:
Flailing willow branch
The thrashing of the salmon
Monty comes to bowl."
1720: Eng 146-2
Benn keeps KP guessing, twirling one past a flashing outside edge before a single is pinched. In the stands, the Morrison figure conducts a small brass band in a rendition of "Ole, Ole, Ole."
1716: Eng 145-2
Super shot from KP, stepping into a full one from Benn and battering it straight back down the ground for his first four of the innings. A man in the crowd wearing a suit and bowler hat in the style of Mark Morrison does a little dance. If that rain comes back this way, perhaps we'll see the return of the mac. Ahem.
From Hannah in Ascot (and my Mum, in Cuckfield), TMS inbox:
"Cookie, Boy next door
My mum fancies you - And I
Really do too. Yum."
1711: Eng 140-2
Two men close in on the off side for Cook, plus a slip and leg slip, but the ball is dropped short and he cuts with relish for a dashed three. KP, eyes out on stalks, prods his bat down the pitch and glares happily at Gayle.
From Mike in London, TMS inbox:
"Big hands, Monty
Shame that they cannot
Catch very much."
1708: Eng 135-2
Cook tries to turn Gayle to leg and almost gets a leading edge back down the track. Behind the castle, Ramdin chirps like a cicada.
1659: Eng 132-2
KP doesn't mess around - he's of the mark first ball with a driven two before Cook moves up to 66 with a tickle and a reaching push. The rain seems to have drifted into the distance - we'll be going for a while yet...
From Gareth in Luxembourg, TMS inbox: "Freddie Flintoff Haiku:
Oh Freddie Flintoff
The pastry bakers legend
You ate all the pies."
1652: WICKET - Shah lbw Benn 21, Eng 129-2
Now then - that might make things interesting... Benn flights one right up, Shah plays over it and is struck on the boot, and Umpo Dar has no hesitation in pointing the digit. Good decision, and that'll bring KP to the krease. Rain holding off.
From Dave F in London, TMS inbox: "A haiku for F5ers everywhere:
As I sit at work
F5 I press to refresh
Please boss don't catch me."
1648: Eng 127-1
Gagh - Shah chases at Benn, gets a thick inside edge and breathes a squeaky sigh of relief as the ball races away fine for four. Partnership up to 39; first misty hints of rain over the stands.
1648: Eng 122-1
Gayle continues from the other end, drifting a fraction down leg and getting pushed and tickled away with ease. Bit of breeze in the air as the rain gets closer.
From Graham in Courtrai, TMS inbox: "Haiku for Ryan:
A no-nonsense Yorkshireman
Except for his hair."
1648: Eng 117-1
Solid over from Benn, but that definitely looks like heavy rain in the distance. Shah nudges one off his tummy-button for two.
From Matthew James, TMS inbox:
"Aussies will not be worried
By this performance
Or, indeed, any other this year."
1645: Eng 115-1
...and for once, the Harpoon says no. Goodness.
1644: Eng 115-1
Hello - it's the first referral of the day. Cook stretches forward to Gayle, there's an appeal for a bat/pad catch. Aleem Dar sends it upstairs to Daryl "Always Out" Harper...
1639: Right - we're back, and there are big fat grey clouds overhead. Ominous.
From Max Darroch de Haldevang, TMS inbox: "I know he's not playing but perhaps he would be if my haiku were listened to:
Oh, Steve Harmison Someone
Please for the love of God
Make him angry."
1559: Eng 115-1
Cook steals two more, Shah defends with bat prodded out in front of pad - and that's lunch. England would have settled for that at start of play, and you've got to think we're drifting draw-wards. Not that I don't want you to come back in 40 - not when there are haikus like this to be written:
From Matt in London:
To write on Steve Harmison
Would be excessive."
(And while I remember, you can still listen in to the Test Match Special commentary on 5 Live sports extra or discuss the match on 606. Merci.)
1556: Eng 111-1
Cook steps away to Benn and slashes him through cover -that's four, and his half-century. It's taken him 86 balls with eight fours - solid knock, and he'll want to go on to notch the three figures this arvo.
1552: Eng 105-1
Rapid-fire maidens from Benn and Gayle as the batsmen catch the whiff of sandwiches and safety in their nostrils.
From Alex R, Dublin, TMS inbox: "A Pietersen haiku:
a poet of the willow
1548: Eng 105-1
Shah tucks into the twirling Gayle - two off his toes, and three more with a flick in the same direction. That's the 100 up for England - 12 minutes to luncheon, and the Windies lead is down to 44.
From Iain Macleod in Milton Keynes, TMS inbox: "A haiku for the whole team:
I do not know why
I always think we can win.
It seems we just can't."
1543: Eng 99-1
That's nice from Shah - a fullish one from Benn and he's onto it in a flash, cracking it through cover with wristy relish. There's singles available all around with all those close fielders in, and the England pair work the ball around with flinty-eyed concentration.
1537: Eng 91-1
That wicket has woken up the crowd. We've now got Benn bowling from one end and Gayle at the other, and new-man Shah is twitching around with adrenaline like a budgie on a bungee. Slip, leg slip, silly point and silly midwicket all in.
1533: WICKET - Strauss b Gayle 38, Eng 88-1
Gayle, frustrated by his team-mates' progress, brings himself on for a twirl - and he's got him! Strauss goes back and tries to chop the ball away, but succeeds only in inside-edging onto his exposed stumps. Strauss throws his head back and stares up at the sky as Gayle beams like a dreadlocked Doris Day. That's the breakthrough...
From S in London, TMS inbox: "I feel a haiku for each member of the England team would be appropriate to pass the time. My effort:
I love Stuart Broad.
Golden locks shimmering as
He sends down the ball."
1527: Eng 80-0
If it wasn't certain suicide to say so, I'd say Strauss is getting on top of Taylor here. He leans back to cut a short one behind square for a muscley four and then flicks the over-corrector away fine for a strolled single.
1523: Eng 74-0
Singles apiece off Benn as Cook moves to 38 off 59 balls and Strauss to 34 from 64. "Oooh-agh!" shouts Benn as Cook drives the ball into his own foot and nearly kicks it back onto his timbers.
From Rob in Bromsgrove, TMS inbox: "That's 51 ticked off then - cue celebrations on the balcony among the England players when they reach 149. How about setting the Windies 250 off 20 overs? See if Master-blaster Gayle fancies it?"
1519: Eng 72-0
Taylor nails his off-stump line and Strauss stays watchful, darting out from behind the barricades to drill a drive through point for two. Splendid mix of clear blue and fluffy white overhead - shouldn't be any issues with downpours for the foreseeable.
1515: Eng 70-0
Bit of a breeze out there for Benn to hang his drifters on, and Strauss is almost tempted into an injudicious nibble at one outside off. "Oh yes yes yes!" yells a happy Ramdin behind the timbers.
1512: Eng 69-0
Roars from the toasting tourists and Skipper Strauss produces the shot of the day so far - a creamy, dreamy drive through covers for a don't-bother-running four. Taylor is then left shouting with frustration as an uppish push floats a few feet past his stretching left hand.
1507: Eng 65-0
Still not much turn for Big Benn out there - plenty of flight, but nothing sideways. Strauss nurdles one to leg, Cook pushes gently for two through cover and Gayle glimmers on from first slip.
1501: Eng 62-0
Jerome Taylor is thrown the ball and winds up for a charge. Cook touches off his toes for a single before Strauss pushes off through extra cover for two more. That's drinks, and England are through the first hour without shipping a wicket away. Who's that at the back counting chickens? Behave yourself, man...
1457: Eng 59-0
Benn tosses one up, Cook has an enormous heave-ho, the ball spirals high into the Barbados sky... and Nash, sprinting back from midwicket, can only lay a desperate finger on it. Escape for Cook, big sulk from Benn.
1453: Eng 56-0
Edwards has spotted that Strauss is stepping across his stumps a little, and spears some fullish straight ones in at leg peg. Strauss works one away with a flick that a sprawling Powell lets through his slide in the deep for four, and then gets lucky with an inside edge that saves an almost certain leg before.
1449: Eng 52-0
Time for a change, decides Chris Gayle, and signals for Big-Unit Benn to loosen his languid limbs. Not much tweak early on, however, and there's a single apiece to the England pair. In the crowd, a large England fan with pale skin and dark chest hair smears his torso with gloopy factor 20.
1445: Eng 50-0
Good ding-dong from Cook here. Fidel goes short again - too short - and Cook has time to fasten onto it and crash it over square leg for four. Next ball is a cover version of the first and gets the same treatment, the third is even shorter and clears Stumper Ramdin to race away for four byes and the fourth is tickled away for one. Strauss then tucks into the fun with a delicate dab down the leg-side for another boundary. Murmurs of appreciation from the tourists slowly grilling in the Bajan sun.
1440: Eng 33-0
Powell's over-reaching a fraction here - he drops too short and is pulled away cleanly by Cook, who then helps himself to a sweetly-timed two through the covers off the back foot and a push for one into the same slot.
1436: Eng 26-0
Edwards reckons Cookie is prone to a panicked pull when peppered with the short stuff, and he could be right - the doe-eyed Essex opener waves a worried glove at a spicy one and spoons a catchable one just past the waiting man behind square. But that's more like it - a crack away through the off-side for four, with a pushed single to follow.
1431: Eng 21-0
With great predictability, the pitch is now showing as much bounce as the opening credits of Baywatch. Powell has Strauss swaying and sweating before one too short is chopped away through gully for a tension-easer of a four.
From Andy in Dorset, TMS inbox: "Hi Tom - how are the legs feeling?"
The alternative Tour de France
I won't lie to you Andy - I'm a fraction jaded. Buoyed by the memories of arriving at the Stade de France, for sure, but lacking a dash of the usual vim and vigour. Could be a day for constant teas.
1426: Eng 17-0
Another fast skiddy one from Fidel, and Cook keeps his arms shouldered. A whole lot of chat going on from the 'keeper and three slips, with Sulieman Benn jogging up between balls to offer other kindly words of encouragement. How sweet.
1420: Eng 17-0
Decent menace from Powell, and this pitch is showing signs of Lazarus-style behaviour - there's spit and lift, and Strauss wears a rapid one on the right glove after Cook steals a single off his pads. Testing times out there for the hopping England pair.
1417: Eng 16-0
Fidel receives a wagging finger from Umpire Dar about following through on the pitch. Re-reading that sentence I see room for misunderstanding - to clarify, Fidel's follow-through is taking him down the middle of the track. A brutish lifter has Cook jumping up with gloves raised in front of his nose, and the ball flies behind square for a streaky single.
1410: Eng 14-0
Powell to Skipper Strauss, and a loosener on leg is tucked away for the second four of the day. Powell straightens his line and Strauss leaves a batch of outside-off tempters alone.
From Phil, TMS inbox: "To Simon from Luxembourg - if we lose this one, I'm applying for Luxembourgish citizenship."
1403: Eng 10-0
Fidel to Cook to get us going, and there's a safe-ish edge along the ground through vacant third slip first up. And then - ooof - a straighter one beats both bat and off-stump by half a hair's width. Next ball up, Edwards does the same again. The ghosts of Sabina Park rise to their spectral feet and rattle their chains.
"Mr Faulkner, you could teach Henry V something about man motivation. I will gladly sign your doomed petition for a miracle, even as I strap myself in for an afternoon of tentative nicks, ill-judged nurdles and a pitch that magically deteriorates into a lunar landscape. Sigh."
Andy C via the TMS inbox
1347: So, what kind of surface can England expect today? According to Mikey Holding on Sky, only "scoreboard pressure" can haunt England. Ramnaresh Sarwan, though, reckons Fidel Edwards's pace and Sulieman Benn's spin can cause the tourists problems today.
"If we lose this one, I'm applying for Australian citizenship."
Simon, Luxembourg via the TMS inbox
1341: Tremendous levels of optimism filtering through via email and text. Justified? Hmmm...
"Right then, Straussy and Cook to put the hammer down this morning, a quick slog to 300 by lunch and an attacking declaration. Jimmy to rip through them in the last two sessions... who's with me?"
Will Faulkner via the TMS inbox
"The gameplan right now should be to bat for a draw, blood the new guys in the final test and hope for a win to square the series. Clearly we need five bowlers and one of them won't be an unfit Sidebottom."
AndieRae on 606
Join the debate
1335: Afternoon all, and if some of us are a little weary after other sporting endeavours in the past few days, let us concentrate minds on the Battle of Bridgetown. I say battle - on the four days so far, batsmen have gorged themselves like Henry VIII at his 18th birthday celebratory banquet - but today could be a nasty little tester for England. On one hand, the pitch is flatter than a steamrollered pancake; on the other, England's deficit is still 143. And the memories of that 51 all out are still horribly fresh...