Strauss closing in on century
Andrew Strauss edged ever nearer a Test century on Friday afternoon, an achievement which has eluded him in his last 25 attempts over the past 18 months.
The England captain moved to a teatime 78 not out as England replied to West Indies' 243 all out with 167 for one on day two of the first Investec Test at Lord's.
Should he reach three figures on his home ground, Strauss' 20th hundred will move him up to joint-fourth - alongside team-mate Kevin Pietersen - in the all-time list of England's most prolific centurions.
He will also be recording his fifth at Lord's, putting himself level with Pietersen on that score too and behind only former England captains Michael Vaughan and Graham Gooch.
After the loss of his opening partner Alastair Cook, Strauss shared an unbroken century stand with Jonathan Trott (50no) as the tourists struggled to remain competitive on a benign pitch but under cloudy skies.
Strauss was outscored initially by Cook, but was by far the more comfortable of England's two left-handed openers. He was under way with a controlled push off the back foot for three behind square on the off-side from the bowling of Fidel Edwards, from the fourth ball of the innings. A cover-driven boundary off the same bowler soon followed.
By contrast, slips and gully were kept interested by Cook, who edged and smeared four early boundaries - two aerial - off Kemar Roach. There was some justice for the bowler when Cook aimed a cut at him but edged back on to his stumps.
Strauss closed out the session with Trott and began the afternoon cautiously, with one run from 25 balls in more than half-an-hour as the West Indies pace attack tried to win a patience game. They failed, Strauss eventually collecting two boundaries from three balls in one over from Darren Sammy.
Sammy came mighty close to having Trott lbw for 17, Aleem Dar's not-out verdict marginally vindicated when the West Indies reviewed the decision. Replay evidence also suggested Sammy should have had Trott caught-behind on the same score. But this time, a half-hearted appeal was followed by an apparently routine decision to resist DRS.
Trott survived to complete his 105-ball 50 just before tea. Strauss had no such alarms on his way to and beyond a half-century which he completed with his ninth boundary, tucked to long-leg off Sammy, as England's second-wicket pair achieved a sudden surge of momentum.