West Indies reached 44 for one before the rain came at Edgbaston to bring an early end to day two
ON and on he went, like a reliable diesel rather than some flashy turbo-charged model.
Alastair Cook’s fourth double century for England spanned 135.5 overs, 407 balls and 562 minutes. And he hardly made a mistake.
In terms of patience, concentration and discipline, there have been few batsmen ever to match Cook.
He remains unchallenged as England’s premier opening batsman after 11 years and 145 Test matches.
Cook provided the ballast of England’s imposing total of 514-8 declared in the First Test at Edgbaston.
There was also sufficient time for James Anderson to nip out West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite before rain curtailed play.
England would have taken more wickets if Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali had not dropped chances off Stuart Broad.
Cook’s 243 was his first international century since the opening Test of last winter’s Indian tour — a gap of 17 innings.
He seems to be revelling in handing over the responsibility of captaincy to Joe Root as he now has seven centuries in all cricket this summer.
After Root’s century on day one, Dawid Malan helped Cook put on 162 for the fourth wicket and made 65 before being caught at slip in the final over before lunch.
Malan enjoyed some luck but grew in confidence and fluency. After two dire Tests against South Africa, he has not done his chances of getting on this winter’s Ashes tour any harm at all.
Malan said: “Alastair gave a batting masterclass and I had the best seat in the house.
“I learned a lot — he was so disciplined with his game plan and he didn’t look like he strayed once.
“He was quite chatty between overs.
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“I have a couple of habits, such as tapping bats and gloves between overs, and he was happy to go along with that to help me feel relaxed.”
Malan added: “I needed that innings. I didn’t look like scoring a run against South Africa so it was nice to hit a few and feel more composed.
“There is a lot more media scrutiny in Test cricket, a lot of eyes watching and more pressure.
“The intensity is greater on the field, the pace bowlers are consistently quicker and there are fewer bad balls. I’ll try to be as consistent as possible in the next two games and, if the call comes to go to Australia, it would be fantastic.
“But really I’m not looking that far ahead.”
The middle-order engine room of Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen scored just 28 runs between them and were unable to ramp up the run-rate.
But Cook remained unmoved and unfazed at the other end.
He batted at his own tempo, rather than risking anything extravagant, although his strike-rate of 59 runs per 100 balls was respectable enough.
West Indies’ bowling lacked discipline and their fielding was poor.
So it was appropriate that Cook’s double century was reached courtesy of a misfield at third man by Kyle Hope, who somehow allowed the ball to trickle over the boundary.
Cook has previously made double centuries against Australia in Brisbane, India at Edgbaston and Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
He was finally lbw to spinner Roston Chase, although it took a review to send him on his way after umpire Marais Erasmus ruled not out.
Root declared immediately and that gave Anderson and Broad two bites with the pink ball — nine overs before tea and what turned out to be seven overs after the interval.
Brathwaite nicked Anderson and Kieran Powell was put down by Stokes in the gully on two. Then Hope also edged Broad and Moeen failed to cling onto a difficult low chance at second slip.