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Saturday, May 16, 2009

England v West Indies, 2nd npower Test,

England v West Indies, 2nd npower Test, Chester-le-Street, 3rd day

England declare on 569 for 6

May 16, 2009

Tea England 569 for 6 dec (Collingwood 60*, Broad 28*) v West Indies
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

Matt Prior carves through the covers during his half-century, England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street, May 16, 2009
Matt Prior batted with increasing freedom in a free-flowing 63 from 83 balls © Getty Images

Matt Prior hit a quickfire 63 from 83 balls, and added 94 for the sixth wicket with Paul Collingwood, as England made up for lost time after the second-day wash-out at Chester-le-Street. By tea, they had marched on from their overnight 302 for 2 to reach 569 for 6, with all eyes on the England captain, Andrew Strauss, who confirmed the declaration during the interval.

After an entertaining morning session, in which a fired-up Fidel Edwards provided the impetus for his team in an 11-over spell, the second session was more a case of waiting for the inevitable. With the honourable exception of Sulieman Benn, who bowled with flight and variety and added the prize scalp of Kevin Pietersen to his earlier extraction of Alastair Cook, West Indies were once again bereft of attacking intent, and any pre-tea declaration would have been a mercy.

All of England's batsmen made starts, even the nightwatchman, James Anderson, whose mere presence coaxed Edwards into his most hostile spells of the innings, late on Monday night and again when play resumed this morning. Edwards eventually got his man after he had been gifted two lives - one via a bad drop down the leg-side from Denesh Ramdin, the other from a no-ball that was fenced to second slip - but instead of carrying that intent forward for the rest of the innings, Edwards and his team-mates rather shrunk from view once Pietersen got into his stride.

Pietersen got off the mark second-ball with a clip through midwicket off Edwards, but it was the next over he faced, from Jerome Taylor, that really set him up for his innings. Taylor has been woefully short of form and confidence since his five-wicket heroics in Jamaica three months ago, and Pietersen was gifted three fours in five balls - plus four byes down the leg-side - as he struggled to locate his line, length and optimum pace.

By lunch, Pietersen had added six further fours, all of them from the pace of Edwards, who aimed full in an attempt to find some swing, but was met more often that not by a full and flashing blade. The one man who did stifle Pietersen's attacking intentions was Benn, in a continuation of his strange weakness against left-arm spin. Locating a hint of extravagant turn from an otherwise blameless surface, Benn suckered Pietersen soon after the break when - on 49 and with another milestone in his sights - he swished wildly outside off, and skied a leading edge straight into the hands of backward point.

By this stage Benn had already accounted for Cook, who had progressed with utter anonymity during the morning session. He began the day on 126 not out, and while Anderson and Pietersen attracted the attention at the other end, he ground onwards and upwards with a range of clips into the leg-side. He duly posted the first 150 of his Test career and looked set for a massive total when, with lunch looming, he played around his front pad to Benn, and chipped a leading edge to a fumbling Chris Gayle at mid-off.

At 419 for 5, the stage was set for Prior to play his shots. Paul Collingwood, in front of his home fans, accompanied him diligently, and his penchant for leg-side shots, coupled with Prior's off-side repertoire, caused West Indies' radar to become totally scrambled. By the break they had sent down a total of 61 extras, 14 of which were Edwards no-balls.

Prior's eventual dismissal meant regular glances towards the England dressing-room, where Andrew Strauss must have been contemplating an early declaration. Instead he decided to push onwards and upwards, with Collingwood adding a half-century of his own, and Stuart Broad enjoying more valuable time (and luck) in the middle with a 25-ball 28.