Splendid Strauss leads from the front
Andrew Strauss struck a composed unbeaten century as England moved into a dominant position in the first Investec Test against West Indies at Lord’s.
Much has been made of the skipper’s recent run in certain quarters, with just one three-figure score – a 110 during England’s famous rearguard in the first game of the Ashes at Brisbane 18 months ago – coming in his last 50 innings prior to today.
Yet Strauss answered any doubts with an assured performance; he reached his hundred via a cut through backward point before delivering a loud roar that showed how much it meant.
The captain put on 147 with Jonathan Trott and 50 alongside Kevin Pietersen as England replied impressively to West Indies' 243.
They were 16 ahead on 259 for three when play ended, with Strauss on 121 and Ian Bell five.
With the day's first ball, Stuart Broad found the perfect line and length to locate the edge of Shannon Gabriel, facing his first delivery in five-day cricket, and complete career-best figures of 7-72 as the tourists were dismissed.
That wicket ensured Broad became only the fourth England bowler to take a seven-for at the home of cricket, following in the footsteps of Trevor Bailey, Sir Ian Botham and Dominic Cork.
Yet it was an effort that would eventually be overshadowed by those of Strauss and, to a lesser degree, Trott.
After Alastair Cook dragged Kemar Roach on, the duo picked West Indies’ bowlers apart with the kind of ruthless precision that has become common during England’s ascent to the top of the world.
Trott enjoyed a life on 17, when - having narrowly survived a review for lbw - he feathered Darren Sammy behind, only for West Indies not to review following a muted appeal.
Otherwise, he played in the same manner that has brought him so much success during his 29-Test career. Anything straight was worked through leg to complement a succession of elegant off-side drives when the bowlers erred in length.
His dismissal, on 58, came as a surprise. Sammy found just enough away movement to find the edge of Trott, driving expansively, and give Denesh Ramdin a simple catch.
Strauss was quickly into his stride and from the moment he planted a cover-drive to the fence off Fidel Edwards in the fourth over, you felt something special could be coming.
The signature cuts then followed, along with a series of further flowing front-foot shots, which, for the left-hander, often signify him being at the top of his game.
So it proved today, with his only false shots coming as the century approached; nerves even affect the seemingly unflappable Strauss, illustrated by him being dropped at slip off a Fidel Edwards no-ball.
Pietersen showed flashes of brilliance in a cameo innings of 32, but fell just prior to stumps when he edged part-time off-spinner Marlon Samuels behind.
Live Text Commentary
6:20pm - STUMPS - ENG 259/3; Strauss 121, Bell 5 - That is that for the day at Lord's. We saw a wicket with the first ball and then just three off the ensuing 482. All in all, that represents a fine effort from England, who will look to build upon their advantage tomorrow.
6:15pm - West Indies take the new ball as they seek another breakthrough before the close. Yet they only get to bowl two deliveries with it as the umpires take the players off the field due to bad light - a decision that looks wise given the gloom. That will likely be the end, but we will wait for official confirmation.
5:59pm - WICKET! Pietersen c Ramdin b Samuels 32. ENG 244/3 - The words Pietersen will probably get to fifty tonight had just left my mouth. Well he will not, it seems. After England move into the lead, Samuels gets a reward he scarcely deserves as the right-hander edges an attempted cut, Denesh Ramdin taking a fine catch.
5:52pm - Things are calming down at Lord's a little as stumps approaches. Pietersen finds the boundary with another glorious straight drive - this time off Sammy - but England are profiting, in the main, from good strike rotation.
5:33pm - The collective roar of "shot" in the Media Centre said it all. We may not see a better one than this in the series. With Roach bowling from wide of the crease, Pietersen moves outside off stump and whips the ball down the ground with typical flamboyance.
5:23pm - While the scribes in the press box begin typing more frantically, Strauss and Pietersen are playing with serene freedom. Both help themselves to a boundary off Kemar Roach; West Indies suddenly look out of ideas.
5:06pm - CENTURY - Strauss (213b 17x4 0x6) - Kevin Pietersen is quickly into his stride, pulling Edwards disdainfully through midwicket before attention quickly turns to Strauss. And there it is: the skipper reaches three figures with a cut through backward point, and then unleashes a loud roar and fist pump. Well played.
4:54pm - WICKET! Trott c Ramdin b Sammy 58. ENG 194/2 - While Strauss has been the focus of attention, Trott has been quietly going about his business. Yet that ends as, attempting an expansive drive, he edges Sammy behind.
4:48pm - Well, well, well. Strauss edges to slip off Edwards and Chanderpaul drops the catch, only to look up and see, much to his relief, the umpire's arm out for a no-ball.
4.45pm - No signs of nerves there! Strauss gets on the front foot and plants a drive straight back past the bowler and to the fence. He is just five runs away.
4:40pm - A cut through point takes Strauss into the 90s, but he is still enduring some nervy moments, especially against the increasingly dangerous Edwards.
4:28pm - Two more false strokes outside off stump from Strauss against Edwards, who is showing impressive heart and gaining assistance from the Lord’s slope.
4:20pm - Edwards makes Strauss play and miss with one that nipped away from back of a length. The next ball is punched firmly through cover-point and a dreadful piece of fielding from Adrian Barath results in the first four of the session. Strauss on to 84 now.
4:14pm - Perhaps the Windies captain has heard my mutterings. After an over from Fidel Edwards, he brings himself on to replace Samuels. Nothing to worry Strauss and Trott at present, however. Neither batsman in the mood to give it away.
4:05pm - Darren Sammy clearly does not believe in starting a session with his most threatening bowler. Marlon Samuels continues with his innocuous off-spin from the Pavilion End and Trott plays out a maiden.
4:00pm - Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott make their way back out to the middle at Lord’s. England’s skipper is 22 short of a century that would put a smile on many faces.
3:40pm - TEA - ENG 167/1; Strauss 78, Trott 50 - And that is tea. England are now in complete control of this first Investec Test and, barring any interruptions, will likely lead by this evening.
3:39pm - FIFTY - Trott (105b 6x4 0x6) - This partnership is really taking the game away from West Indies. Trott joins Strauss in moving to a half-century and, having been reprieved earlier, one feels a significant score is in the offing.
3:23pm - Edwards is proving as expensive as his bowling colleagues at the moment; after Strauss drives through mid-off, his partner cuts to herald the fifth boundary in three overs.
3:14pm - 100 PARTNERSHIP - It is all becoming a bit too easy for England now. Gabriel strays down leg for four byes, before Trott leans into two glorious drives through the off side off Fidel Edwards. Strauss then brings up the century stand with a glorious flick over midwicket off Samuels.
3:04pm - We have got a bit of a stalemate between Strauss and Gabriel, who has two men back on the leg-side fence. Cue a series of bouncers from the paceman, though Strauss, for now, seems happy to duck and sway.
2:53pm - I cannot help but think Sammy may be regretting his decision to leave out premier tweaker Shane Shillingford. England are picking off Samuels with ease at the moment, while Shannon Gabriel is also struggling to make an impact on an increasingly benign surface.
2:40pm - Part-time off-spinner Marlon Samuels comes on for West Indies, with Trott quickly helping himself to a boundary through point off a short-and-wide long hop. Strauss follows that up with a fine clip through mid-on; the England captain is ticking now.
2:26pm - 4:30pm - FIFTY - Strauss (97b 9x4 0x6) - The 100 comes up as Trott clips to leg for a single, before Strauss punches Sammy through midwicket for another four. West Indies are struggling to maintain the pressure they were applying not too long ago, epitomised by Strauss being gifted another boundary; he flicked off his hips to move to a deserved half-century.
2:17pm - We've finally seen the first boundary since lunch. Just seven runs were added in 35 minutes before Strauss breaks the shackles with a flick through leg, after which some terrible West Indies fielding gives the left-hander another off a back-foot punch down the ground.
2:09pm - This is excellent stuff now from West Indies, who appear to have taken a page out of England's book. The runs have dried up since lunch and we are now seeing some proper Test cricket. Who will blink first?
1:58pm - A switch to the Nursery End has paid dividends for Sammy, who beats Trott's edge. West Indies' muted appeal suggests they do not feel he nicked it, though Hot Spot disagrees; it shows the faintest edge. Trott then ends a 21-ball spell without a run by clipping to leg for a single.
1:49pm - REVIEW - Darren Sammy raps Jonathan Trott on pad and, after umpire Aleem Dar says not out, the skipper opts for a review. But, by the smallest of margins, Trott survives with Hawk-Eye showing the ball was not hitting enough of leg stump.
1:38pm - The Lord's floodlights are on, yet the players have emerged from the dressing rooms, so I imagine play will commence as expected. The darker clouds that were hovering prior to lunch appear to have passed by so, if anything, I would expect it to brighten up.
1pm - LUNCH - ENG 80/1; Strauss 31, Trott 17 - England reach the interval with Strauss and Trott looking in good nick. Trott epitomises that with a lovely drive through mid-off on the stroke of the break, at which point the home side were 163 behind.
12:45pm - Runs are flowing now as Strauss and Trott mix excellent running with the odd four - one of which came via a glorious cover drive from the latter.
12:33pm - That’s even better from Trott. Moving across his stumps, the right-hander clips Sammy to the square-leg boundary with consummate ease.
12:27pm - Jonathan Trott gets off the mark with a trademark flick through midwicket for three, which prompts skipper Darren Sammy’s decision to bring himself into the attack.
12:20pm - That dismissal has signalled a lull in proceedings as England look to build another partnership. Strauss, though, shows he is still in fine touch by cutting Roach through point for a third boundary.
12:08pm - WICKET! Cook b Roach 26. ENG 47/1 - It was all going so smoothly for England, but now Cook goes. The left-hander attempts to cut one that is too full and inside edges on to his stumps to give West Indies a much-needed breakthrough.
11:53am - Unknown quantity Gabriel is into the attack now and appears to be the fastest bowler on show. He beats Cook's bat with his second delivery, after which England's opener pushes through cover for three. Solid first over from the debutant, though.
11:42am: The pitch seems flat at Lord's, and England's openers will be aiming to prosper. Cook plays his first authoritative shot of the day, driving powerfully through backward point off Roach.
11:33am: Strauss is looking in good touch early on, epitomised by a glorious cover drive off Edwards, who is struggling to make things happen at the moment.
11:28am: Roach is starting to cause some problems as, using the slope, he finds Alastair Cook's edge, only for the ball to fall short of Darren Bravo and go to the boundary. The bowler follows that by beating the edge, after which Cook hits a streaky shot through third man for another four.
11:16am - That's either a brilliant leave or slightly fortuitous. Strauss shoulders arms to a Fidel Edwards delivery that narrowly misses off stump before squirting one away for three through third man to get off the mark.
11:09am - Well, it's been a frenetic start to say the least here at the home of cricket. Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are now in the middle as England prepare to begin their reply. Just a quick stat before they begin: Broad has now become only the fourth England bowler - after Trevor Bailey, Ian Botham and Dominic Cork - to take a seven-for at Lord's.
11:01am - WICKET! - Gabriel b Broad c Swann 0. WI 243 all out - And that's exactly what Broad has done. Gabriel, facing his first ball in Test cricket, can only edge to Graeme Swann at slip. Chanderpaul, on 87, can only watch on from the other end as he is denied a 26th Test century.
10:59am - The players have followed the umpires into the middle at Lord's and we're almost ready for the action. Stuart Broad has two deliveries left in the 90th over and, with Shannon Gabriel on strike, the perfect opportunity to pick up his seventh wicket.
10:45am - There are many sub-plots to look forward to this morning; can Stuart Broad claim the final wicket and subsequently a first Test seven-for? Can Shivnarine Chanderpaul, currently 87 not out, reach a 26th five-day century? Can West Indies debutant and number 11 Shannon Gabriel hold his own with the bat? A first-class average of 4.85 does not inspire confidence.
10:30am - Hello and welcome to day two of ecb.co.uk's live text commentary service from Lord's. I'm pleased to say we look set to start on time once again here, with conditions similar to yesterday. West Indies will resume on 243 for nine under dreary skies in the first Investec Test against England.