Alastair Cook and Dawid Malan sleepwalked their way to significant personal milestones on the second morning at Edgbaston, although they might as well have been batting in the nets for all the resistance that was offered by a supine West Indies attack that seemed merely to be running down the clock towards England’s inevitable declaration.
Malan fell for 65 to the spin of Roston Chase on the stroke of lunch, bringing to an end a fourth-wicket stand of 162, but Cook had ground along from his overnight 153 to reach 213 not out, his fourth Test double-century and second on a ground where he has now eclipsed David Gower’s tally of 767 runs to become the venue’s leading Test run-scorer.
Cook’s landmark was brought up in ignominious circumstances that fitted the occasion’s over-riding air of lethargy. On 198, he slashed the toiling Kemar Roach for a single to third man, only for the fielder, Kyle Hope, to trip over his own feet as the ball dribbled through his legs to the boundary. Cook acknowledged the crowd’s ovation with an underwhelmed wave of the bat – a sure sign that he has heftier milestones in his sights as the day wears on.
At the other end, of both the pitch and the career graph, Malan built on his overnight 28 to record his maiden Test fifty, a landmark that he achieved with a forceful pull through square leg in the final 20 minutes of the session. But the swish of his bat as he left the crease, after poking an off-stump delivery into the hands of Jermaine Blackwood, spoke volumes. He could, and should, have piled on the agony deep into the afternoon session.
After enduring a sticky start to his innings on the first evening, Malan had been decidedly more assured this time out, with his cover-drive in particularly good order on two eye-catching occasions. He may not be offered quite so many half-volleys in Australia, should this innings go on to book his place on the Ashes tour, but it is a Test batsman’s duty to take advantage when the going is in your favour – a lesson that his senior partner was doubtless willing to impart.—AFP