BIRMINGHAM - Alastair Cook ground on, and on, and on on the second afternoon at Edgbaston, eventually falling to the spin of Roston Chase for a gargantuan 243 from 407 balls, as England declared on an imposing 514 for 8, leaving West Indies the invidious task of facing James Anderson and Stuart Broad, armed with the pink ball, just as the natural light was beginning to fade.

By tea, nine overs into their first innings, West Indies were already braced for a gruelling twilight examination. They lost Kraigg Brathwaite in that time, caught behind for a duck in Anderson's second over, and they should have lost Keiron Powell for 8 as well, only for Ben Stokes, of all people, to drop a sharp edge in the gully off Broad.

But the session, and the match so far for that matter, had belonged to Cook, whose departure deep into the tenth hour of his innings triggered an immediate declaration at the end of West Indies' most effective mini-session to date. After sleepwalking through a first session that was utterly devoid of drama, England shipped a glut of middle-order wickets, including the dangerous Stokes and the in-form Jonny Bairstow, in their attempt to raise the tempo as the declaration drew nigh.

Stokes' departure was a particularly deflating moment for another packed crowd who had been nodding contently along to Cook's rhythms but were clearly ready to rock out in the afternoon session. Instead, on 10, he attempted a reverse sweep and was smartly caught by an alert Jermaine Blackwood at slip, and the atmosphere went audibly flat. Bairstow soon followed, playing on to Jason Holder for 18, before Moeen Ali - never one to stick when he can twist, especially with a scoreline of 505 for 6 to back him up - slashed airily to point for a duck against Chase who finished with a hard-earned four-wicket haul.

Cook, who had started the day on 153 not out, looked odds-on to complete his maiden Test triple-century, on the ground where he made his Test-best 294 six years ago. But, having miscued a pull on 230 that landed safely at midwicket, even he struggled to manufacture runs against the 50-over-old ball, and eventually played across the line to a wicket-to-wicket delivery from Chase, and was sent on his way via a DRS review.

As he left the field to a justified ovation, West Indies' fielders made a point of chasing after him to offer their congratulations - a magnanimous gesture that spoke of the huge esteem in which Cook is held by his opponents. But, by that stage, he had run most of their team into the ground, in compiling his fourth Test double-century, and would would eventually be the third-highest of his 31 hundreds.

The sheer mental will that went into Cook's innings was amplified (Joe Root aside) by the relative paucity of the scores around him - Dawid Malan's 65 was the next largest contribution - but he might as well have been batting in the nets for all the resistance that was offered by a supine West Indies attack.

Rarely in the course of his 145-Test career can Cook have been less challenged by either the conditions or the opponents. His resumption this morning was epitomised by the struggles that Kemar Roach in particular endured in his spirited but unsupported attempt to raise the collective levels of West Indies' attack.

Though he was obtaining some appreciable outswing with the still-new pink ball, the closest that Roach came to a breakthrough was when Cook, on 159, fell across his stumps to a delivery that struck his pads but pitched outside the line. He rarely missed out on his bread-and-butter clips off the pads thereafter, with Alzarri Joseph particularly culpable in that regard. All told, he conceded 20 boundaries in his 22 overs, a rate of attrition that rendered him unusable in the closing stages of the innings.

The manner in which Cook brought up his double-century epitomised the occasion's air of lethargy. On 198, he slashed the toiling 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 sign of enduring ambition, maybe, or an acknowledgement that it was all coming to him a bit too easily.

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 then, on the stroke of lunch, he poked an off-stump delivery into the hands of Blackwood at slip, and stalked from the field swishing his bat in anger. He knew 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 demonstrated in no uncertain terms.

 

Scoreboard

ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 348-3):

A Cook lbw b Chase        243

M Stoneman b Roach     8

T Westley lbw b Cummins            8

J Root b Roach   136

D Malan c Blackwood b Chase    65

B Stokes c Blackwood b Chase    10

J Bairstow b Holder         18

M Ali c Brathwaite b Chase          0

T Roland-Jones not out 6

EXTRAS: (lb10, w3, nb7)                20

TOTAL: (8 wkts dec, 135.5 overs)               514

FOW: 1-14, 2-39, 3-287, 4-449, 5-466, 6-505, 7-506, 8-514.

BOWLING: Roach 28-8-86-2; Joseph 22-3-109-0; Cummins 24-3-87-1; Holder 29.3-4-103-1; Chase 26.2-2-113-4; Brathwaite 6-0-6-0.

WEST INDIES 1ST INNINGS:

K Brathwaite c Bairstow b Anderson        0

K Powell not out               5

K Hope not out 7

EXTRAS: (w1)     1

TOTAL: (1 wkt, 9 overs) 13

FOW: 1-0.

BOWLING: Anderson 5-1-9-1; Broad 4-1-4-0.

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: S Ravi (IND), Marais Erasmus (RSA)

TV UMPIRE: Chris Gaffaney (NZL)

MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (AUS)