Alastair Cook leads from the front but England victory bid hit by delayed declaration
Crowd pleaser: Skipper Cook milks the applause after reaching his century at Headingley
Alastair Cook led from the front with a 25th Test hundred as England declared with a lead of 467 against New Zealand at Headingley.
The hosts, after refusing to enforce the follow on the previous afternoon, resumed day four of the second Test on 116 for one in their second innings, 296 runs ahead.
And they declared 27 minutes after lunch on 287 for five to leave themselves the best part of five sessions to bowl out their opponents and seal a 2-0 series win.
However, with a dodgy forecast later today and a predicted washout in Leeds tomorrow, England’s decision to delay their declaration against beleagured opponents is likely to cost them victory.
Yet if the timing of Cook’s declaration could be criticised, his timing with the bat could not.
England’s captain, who had started the day on 88, took just 20 balls to reach three figures during an innings of 130 which was terminated half an hour before lunch after the opener chipped spinner Kane Williamson to Tim Southee at mid off.
The knock, Cook’s first hundred since the Dunedin Test against the Kiwis in March, ensures the opener is bang in form ahead of the Ashes, with the first Test against Australia starting at Trent Bridge on July 10.
It was the seventh hundred Cook has scored in nine Tests since taking over the captaincy last November and the 28-year-old requires just four more to beat his mentor Graham Gooch’s England record of 11 tons as captain.
Cook also passed 10,000 international runs during the innings and 7,500 Test runs.
The match situation, though, meant it was vital runs were scored quickly and thankfully, Jonathan Trott put his foot on the accelerator after his go-slow yesterday evening, when he scored 11 in 69 balls.
Trott was far more positive this morning and took just 57 more balls to reach his half-century during a 134-run stand with Cook for the second wicket.
Ian Bell was less productive against an attack missing Trent Boult, whose side strain again prevented him from bowling.
The Warwickshire batsman scored six before holing out to Martin Guptil attempting to force the pace against Williamson.
At the interval, Trott had reached 76 alongside Yorkshire’s local hero and first-innings centurion Joe Root on 20, as England finished the morning on 249 for three, a lead of 429.
Trott, though, went to just the second ball after lunch, edging Neil Wagner to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.
Root followed shortly after for 28, caught by Martin Guptil at extra cover off Wagner as England were reduced to 268 for five.
Jonny Bairstow then hit 26 off 22 balls before the declaration eventually came.