Runs flow to captain Strauss

England v West Indies
Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss looks in fine fettle as he prepares to lead England at Sabina Park

England’s openers’ experienced contrasting fortunes in their last chance for batting practice ahead of the first Test in Jamaica next week.

After Alastair Cook had fallen for a first-ball duck, his partner Andrew Strauss rattled along to a half-century by stumps on day two against West Indies A at Warner Park.

The tourists will resume tomorrow on 134 for two, Strauss 59 not out and Kevin Pietersen 12no. Ian Bell made 52.

England stood in the field for more than five sessions as West Indies' second-string compiled a mammoth 574 for eight declared, led by an innings of power and immense concentration from Lendl Simmons, who made 282.

When West Indies A captain Darren Sammy eventually declared his side’s effort after 149.5 overs, England had 28 overs of batting in the day, with a further 90 possible tomorrow on a kind surface.

Cook sliced his first ball from Kevin McClean to gully.

Bell played fluently for his fifty in his attempt to cement the number three spot for Sabina Park. Bell, who made 36 and 52 in the first warm-up match on this ground, was given a reprieve on 49 today.

But five overs from the close he was bowled around his legs for 52, attempting to sweep leg-spinner Gavin Wallace.

West Indies A started the day on 343 for two after Simmons and Adrian Barath’s heroics on day one.

James Anderson claimed his second wicket of the match by removing West Indies Test player Sewnarine Chattergoon in the morning session. After tempting the Guyanese left-hander outside off-stump, Anderson induced a nibble through to Prior.

But Simmons celebrated his 200 in the next over, sent down by Paul Collingwood, with a clipped single off his pads.

Graeme Swann was driven majestically through the covers for four and then cracked for a flat, straight six - Simmons' sixth of the innings - after opening up this morning.

Andrew Strauss & Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff makes a brief appearance as substitute fielder in a bid to make the first Test

Simmons, nephew of former West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons, pressed the accelerator in the second hour, clearing the rope for a seventh time off Kevin Pietersen.

He was given a helping hand by England when two separate overthrows off the same delivery gave Simmons the rarity of a seven.

Simmons passed his 250 in a stand of 78 with Leon Johnson, when Steve Harmison's post-lunch spell reaped a double breakthrough.

Extra bounce from the Durham fast bowler did for Johnson (26) and a fortuitous leg-before decision accounted for Sammy (14).

It was during that period that Andrew Flintoff appeared briefly as a substitute fielder.

Flintoff, left out of this match as a precautionary measure, tested out his side strain this morning when he warmed up alongside his fellow bowlers during pre-play practice, sending down three deliveries at a very gentle pace, and later headed to the nets for a more extensive workout.

Simmons eventually departed just before tea, lbw to Ryan Sidebottom - the Nottinghamshire left-armer’s first first-class wicket in six injury-plagued months.

Though the wicket was benign, it was an outstanding effort from the 24-year-old Trinidadian, who batted nine-and-a-half hours and faced 381 balls for his career-best knock. He hit eight sixes and 26 fours.

After Simmons fell, Harmison boosted his confidence with the scalps of Devon Thomas and McClean.

After a tough day of perseverance, the battle for the fast bowling spots remains unresolved. Assistant coach Andy Flower intimated that Sidebottom (1-61) would feature at Sabina Park injury-permitting. Anderson (2-92) made early incisions, while Harmison (4-101) had success at the end.

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