Strauss poised to prolong purple patch
Andrew Strauss spent 18 months seeking a Test hundred but, having struck two in as many weeks, is now determined to make the most of his fine form.
The left-handed opening batsman followed his first-innings 122 in England’s five-wicket win at Lord’s with an unbeaten 102 today as his side fought back in the second Investec Test at Trent Bridge.
From 304 for six after day one, West Indies were dismissed for 370 this morning and Strauss batted for the rest of the day to see the hosts to 259 for two at stumps.
Strauss added 80 with Jonathan Trott and an unbroken 136 with Kevin Pietersen, who contributed 72.
“It’s a very strange game,” Strauss said. “Sometimes batting feels very difficult and other times when you’ve got a few runs under your belt it feels a lot easier.
“Certainly it took a lot less out of me today than it did at Lord’s last week. I’m just delighted to be in a bit of form now and determined to make the most of it, not just tomorrow but over the rest of the series.”
Strauss has a small statistical anomaly to overcome tomorrow; whenever he has been unbeaten on a century overnight in Tests, England's skipper has failed to add more than six runs the next day.
“You can never look too far ahead, but I’m just going to focus on trying to get myself back in, in the morning,” he added.
“That’s a big enough challenge for me and to take each innings as it comes. It’s nice to feel back in form and nice to feel as captain that you’re contributing and leading from the front.”
Pietersen has also this year emerged form a lean period in Tests and Strauss is delighted to see him batting with such confidence.
“He’s playing with a lot more freedom now, he’s playing his natural game and he’s playing in a manner that makes him very difficult for opposition captains,” Strauss said.
“I love seeing him play like that because I think it’s when he’s at his best and when he is genuinely world-class.
“So it’s nice to see him playing with that freedom. It’s great to see him enjoying his cricket as well which is obviously an important part of it.”
Strauss was not the only captain to make three figures today; Windies skipper Darren Sammy registered his first Test ton this morning.
However, he and overnight centurion Marlon Samuels could not add significantly to yesterday’s scores, both falling to Tim Bresnan, who took 4-104.
“It’s good to get a Test hundred, a good feeling,” Sammy reflected. “But from a team point of view we didn’t bat as we were supposed to this morning.
“The plan was for Marlon and myself to see out the first hour and look to get a big score of over 400.”
Further frustration for Sammy was seeing paceman Kemar Roach twice having Alastair Cook caught behind from no-balls either side of lunch.
Fortunately for the tourists, Ravi Rampaul forced Cook to edge to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin on 24.
“Thank God Cook didn’t cash in on it and Ravi got him out a few balls later,” Sammy said.