Strauss leads by example and steers England to a dominant position.
After Stuart Broad removed Shannon Gabriel with the very first ball of the day (cue much laughter at Shivnarine Chanderpaul, stranded on 87* after taking a single from the first ball of an over that ended with consecutive wickets), the day was all about the England captain. For much of the morning session he looked slightly ill at ease, with some uncertain footwork and one wild slash to a wide delivery from Fidel Edwards. But as the day progressed, Strauss seemed to somehow both grow and turn back the years as he found scoring easier. The harsh truth for the visitors was that their four-man bowling attack lacked the pace, movement or consistency to create pressure; certainly Strauss was able to cut and drive impressively, ably supported by Jonathan Trott at the other end.
On 95* however, Strauss chased a wide one from Edwards and edged to Shiv Chanderpaul at first slip. The veteran dropped the simplest of chances, but by the sort of weird coincidence that sometimes occurs in cricket, it was also a no ball. A few minutes later Strauss cut yet again and before the ball was past gulley he unleashed a primitive roar of delight / relief. That Kevin Pietersen looked equally happy as he hugged – in a manner we’ve not seen since our local nightclub played You’re My Mate by Right Said Fred – his skipper was a heart-warming sight. The Lord’s crowd clearly agreed and their standing ovation was a sure sign that they believed Strauss was back where he belonged all along.
Eyes will be cast skywards, not least because one of 51allout’s real-life-and-in-no-way-imaginary friends will be heading to Lord’s. Provided the rainclouds head elsewhere (we suggest Thames Ditton) and the light is good, there’s no reason not to think England could bat until the final session and extend their lead to at least 200, such is the paucity of the West Indian attack. Actually, they did have some good moments and the conditions today were probably more helpful to the batsmen, but it will be surprising if they bowl England out without some careless batting as the home team aim to increase the scoring rate.