England dominate drawn mismatch

A St Kitts & Nevis XI only just clung to a draw in this two-day mismatch, following up their first-innings total of 59 with 76 for seven.

England had earlier declared on 379 for six, with both Alastair Cook (101) and Ian Bell (59) retiring to give others the chance to share the cheap runs.

Another two-day game follows against the same shellshocked side but an agreement has been struck that will see England bowl for a full 90 overs on Wednesday and bat for the same period on Thursday, regardless of wickets.

If the hosts perform as feebly with the bat as they have done so far, England could conceivably bowl them out on two or more occasions.

Those contrivances reduce the fixture to little more than a glorified training drill and threaten to leave England short of proper preparations going into the first West Indies Test on April 13.

But it does at least guarantee coach Peter Moores and captain Cook a chance to survey all their options before moving on to Antigua.

The first hint that England were losing faith in the pretence of competitive cricket came when Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood, initially left out of the side, shared the new ball in the second innings.

That swelled the tourists’ ranks to 14 players as Moores did his best to gerrymander match conditions to suit his purpose.

The day began with Cook on 95 not out and eyeing a first century in England colours since a tour game in Hobart in November 2013.

He sent the first ball of the morning to the third man boundary – via a controlled thick edge – and brought up his ton with a nudged two into the on-side.

It was hardly a memorable innings but should at least offer a psychological boost for a player whose lack of major scores has become an albatross around his neck.

Cook wandered off contented but Gary Ballance was finding life less comfortable and managed only 16 before donating his wicket to Elvin Berridge, a left-arm spinner England used as a net bowler at the weekend.

That brought together Bell and Joe Root, who settled in for a fourth-wicket stand of 118.

Bell took time to get going, but eventually reacquainted himself with his trusty cover drive and late cut.

Root, meanwhile, looked to score briskly but should have gone for 19 when Quinton Boatswain found his edge with the new ball.

The ball sailed straight in to Jacques Taylor’s hands at first slip and bounced straight out again, much to the bowler’s frustration.

Both Root and Bell eased to fifties in the afternoon session, in 83 and 82 balls respectively, but all the impetus had evaporated from proceedings.

When Leon Clarke had Root lbw for 64, Bell simply decided to go with him, allowing Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler some time in the centre.

Stokes hit seven fours and a six as he made a breezy 41 before holing out to hasten the tea-time declaration.

For the second time in as many days the St Kitts & Nevis batsman were dismal in response.

Wood worked up a good head of steam during his first spell as an England bowler, making a mess of Shane Jeffers’ stumps.

Three wickets then fell in four balls, Plunkett picking off Sherwin Peters, James Tredwell removing Ross Powell and Darren Hobson adding a comical run out.

When Jaison Peters wandered out to bat with his pads only half-fastened – in an apparent bid to avoid being timed out – a new low was reached.

Tredwell sent him and Jeremiah Louis packing with successive deliveries to keep the revolving door spinning, but just one more wicket fell, Adil Rashid having Clarke held at cover.

The sides will renew hostilities in the morning though there seems to be little to learn from that clash.

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