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Cook relishing England return

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Alastair Cook

Opener Alastair Cook is looking forward to resuming hostilities with West Indies for England

Alastair Cook declared himself fit for the first npower Test against West Indies after hitting an unbeaten 74 for Essex against the tourists.

Cook wrung his hand in pain several times yesterday on his way to 46 in his first outing of the 2009 season but found the second innings much more comfortable.

The 24-year-old suffered a fractured left index finger when county colleague Mervyn Westfield struck him in the nets three weeks ago and was forced to test out the injury this week with time running out before the Lord's contest against West Indies on May 6.

"It is still sore but it is definitely getting better," said Cook, who helped Essex to an overall lead of 292 with seven wickets intact.

"It was much better than yesterday. Perhaps I hit more balls out of the middle of the bat because it was the balls I didn't hit right yesterday that caused quite a bit of pain. Maybe it is just getting used to batting again."

He has one LV= County Championship contest between now and meeting up with his England colleagues a week today but, of the international summer, confirmed: "I'll definitely be fine for that."

Cook was afforded a lengthy stay second time around after young pace duo Maurice Chambers and Westfield combined to take seven wickets as West Indies were blitzed for just 146.

Jamaican-raised Chambers finished with a career-best 4-62 and it was only veteran Shiv Chanderpaul's unbeaten 66 which averted a more devastating collapse.

"There is a nip in the wicket and if you hit that area well there is reward to be had," Cook said.

"It is good to see our young attack producing the goods. You couldn't have asked for a better performance from a pace attack under the age of 22."

West Indies stand-in captain Darren Sammy suggested his side take note of Chanderpaul's discipline in dealing with the moving ball in English conditions

"Chanderpaul showed on his first outing on tour he is still in excellent nick leading up to the Test series," Sammy said. "It was a lack of application and some poor shot selection from the rest of us.

"The ball was moving about a bit and Chanderpaul applied himself and judged the ball correctly - that is why he came off not out.

"We need to take a page out of his book and in the future look to play the way he plays. We have quite a few guys who have not played much cricket in England but we all have to learn very fast."

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