Cook fighting to save his job

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The England captain, without an international century for almost two years, failed for the second time in the first Test as his old failing against the full ball just outside off-stump was again exploited by West Indies.

To compound Cook’s misery, there was also another failure for Jonathan Trott, who has endured a nightmare return to the England team for his 50th Test 18 months after his Ashes trauma.

The double blow at the start of England’s second innings left them with much to do if they are to work their way towards a winning position at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium even though they earned a first-innings lead of 104.Cook cannot afford many more mistakes, with new ECB chairman Colin Graves demanding victory here over opposition he condemned as ‘mediocre’ ahead of this trip.

Cook returned to something like his best last year with three half-centuries in his last four Test innings against India but his woeful one-day form in Sri Lanka led England to jettison him as 50-over captain ahead of the World Cup.

He arrived here still smarting from that blow but with a slightly altered technique and looked refreshed in scoring a warm-up hundred against Saint Kitts.

The step up to Test level, however, has seen Cook struggle again and Jerome Taylor looked anything but mediocre in sending both him and Trott back with just 20 on the board as England began their second innings after tea.Trott has been recalled in the unaccustomed role of opener but has looked jittery in scoring a duck and now four, and was noticeably falling over in the crease as he edged a decent ball from Taylor to Denesh Ramdin.

It is far too early to say that England’s gamble in bringing back a man who left Australia with what was later diagnosed as ‘situational anxiety’ has backfired but Trott will be under significant pressure in the second Test.

Cook’s problems have been going on much longer and it is no exaggeration to say that he will be fighting for his job for the rest of this three-match series, particularly with change sweeping through English cricket.

Here he pushed forward hesitantly to a ball he could have left alone from Taylor and succeeded only in edging to the delighted Sulieman Benn at gully.And when Ian Bell, a century-maker in the first innings, was run out, after a terrible mix-up with Gary Ballance, England were struggling on 52 for three, only 156 ahead.

Earlier England had toiled before dismissing West Indies for 295, with the unlikely figure of James Tredwell finishing with four for 47. Jimmy Anderson was only able to claim his second victim to remain one short of Sir Ian Botham’s England record of 383 Test wickets.

Moeen Ali’s absence gave an opportunity to an off-spinner who could not even get into Kent’s championship team last season, the promise of Adam Riley being preferred to him, and Tredwell had to go on loan to Sussex to get a game.

Yet Tredwell is reliable, steady and under-stated and England knew he would not let them down when they preferred him to the more naturally talented but inconsistent Adil Rashid for this first Test.

It will be difficult for England to leave him out now, even though Moeen will join the squad in Grenada in time for the second Test, particularly if Tredwell can spin them to victory on this slow pitch.

This was a worthy performance from Tredwell, who was disappointed not to feature more prominently in the World Cup, and one that ended up with him only being denied a five-wicket haul by Anderson’s late intervention.

It was Tredwell who made the first breakthrough of the day for England and the most important one in persuading the limpet-like Shivnarine Chanderpaul to chip tamely to extra cover in an off-side dominated field.

That should have opened the door for England but they needed to be patient and work for their wickets until the last three West Indians fell in 11 balls to a combination of Tredwell, Anderson and sharp work in the field from Stuart Broad to run out Taylor.

Throughout it all Jermaine Blackwood stood firm for West Indies to go to his maiden hundred in his sixth Test with a combination of living dangerously and some quality stroke-making.

Blackwood, in particular, severely tried the patience of Ben Stokes, who could have had him three times but ended up wicketless as the 23-year-old Jamaican finished unbeaten on 112.

It was Blackwood who was reprieved by Stokes overstepping on the second evening when he was caught at slip and it was Blackwood again who survived when he was dropped by the diving Tredwell on 43 and then when he edged Stokes through the vacant second slip on 80.

For Anderson this was another frustrating day, with little reverse swing on offer, but he did move a big step closer to the record when he had last man Sulieman Benn caught by Joe Root at short leg.Yet the ultimate English frustration belonged to Cook and Trott.

ALASTAIR COOK has now gone 61 combined Test and ODI innings without making a century. His last ton for England came against New Zealand at Headingley in May 2013, 690 days ago. –Daily Mail

Original source: Cook fighting to save his job

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