West Indies v England: Stuart Broad back to his fluent best

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Stuart Broad bowls
Stuart Broad now has seven wickets in the series and is the leading wicket-taker on either side

England have the upper hand in the second Test against West Indies after a second day in which two of their most experienced players really came to the fore.

Stuart Broad bowled a penetrating new-ball spell to restrict West Indies to 299, and then Alastair Cook knuckled down and played a resolute innings to give England a good platform with the bat.

It was an important performance for Broad, who is starting to find his way back after a major knee operation in September.

He looked fluent, he hit the crease hard, he found some bounce and consistently put the ball in a threatening area on a fullish length outside off stump.

So often when Broad gets an early wicket he gets his tail up and looks really dangerous, and so it proved after he had Denesh Ramdin caught behind with an excellent delivery.

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on BBC Test Match Special
"For the first time we saw a really good spell from Stuart Broad. He bowled line and length and I am glad he got wickets. I do not think he will ever get over that surgery, but he could get back to his best."

That ball was clocked at 91mph, but while it was heartening to see Broad bend his back on an unresponsive pitch like this, I think the constant focus on Broad's pace rather misses the point.

In my opinion, Broad is at his best not when he's trying to bowl express pace, but when he pitches the ball up and bowls almost in the mode of the great Australian seamer Glenn McGrath.

This is an important series for Broad ahead of the sterner tests this summer against New Zealand and Australia, and after a mixed performance in the drawn first Test in Antigua, there will be an element of relief that he had such a good day today.

It was also an excellent day for captain Alastair Cook, who has had his fair share of criticism over the past 12 months.

Alastair Cook bats
Alastair Cook is averaging 63.8 from his last seven Test innings

Not only did he put on an unbeaten 74 for the first wicket with Jonathan Trott, but his innings of 37 not out also took him past Alec Stewart into second place in the all-time England run-scorers list.external-link

It's a superb achievement but you can guarantee that it will be the furthest thing from Cook's mind. He will be absolutely determined to get a big score, with a first Test century since May 2013 uppermost in his thoughts.

But he can't just grind his way to three figures - he will have to press on at a decent rate in order to get England into a winning position in this rain-affected Test match.

One sour note on a good day for England was the news of an injury to all-rounder Chris Woakes, who will miss the Test series against New Zealand. It's a real shame for Woakes, who has come on in leaps and bounds.

He's put some pace on, he's improved his batting and one hopes he will still be in contention for England's Ashes squad.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's James Gheerbrant.