LONDON: England captain Andrew Strauss hopes his long-awaited 20th Test century will provide the spark for a successful season with the bat.
Strauss had gone 18 months without a Test hundred heading into the series opener against the West Indies at his Lord’s home ground.
However, the left-handed opener reached the coveted three figures with a score of 122 in England’s first-innings 398 that took him to within two of the England Test record of 22 hundreds shared by Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott.
“You don’t want to have to justify your place in the side as a captain,” said Strauss after leading England to a five-wicket win that put them 1-0 up in the three-match series heading into Friday’s second Test at Trent Bridge.
“Thankfully that takes the monkey off my back, but I’m really conscious of the need to use that as a catalyst to have a really good summer.
“I hope this is a bit of a breakthrough mentally and allows me to stay fresher and go on and score some more hundreds in the rest of the games.”
Meanwhile, Ian Bell weighed in with fifties in both innings, including a valuable 63 not out in England’s pursuit of 191. Alastair Cook (79) also got among the runs and Strauss was pleased with their efforts.
“Whenever you’re chasing there’s a bit of pressure, so it was an outstanding effort from Cook and Bell. They played in a very classy manner. It was getting a bit harder, but we had faith the pitch would stay flat and slow. Our plan was just to negotiate the new ball, and things would become simple.”
Sammy spurred on by well-wishers
Meanwhile, West Indies captain Darren Sammy is keen to reward the well-wishers of his side with wins rather than laudable losses.
“Fans want to see the West Indies back on top because the flair and excitement we bring to cricket, it’s fun to watch,” said Sammy. “We as a team know that and we are doing everything we can to improve and we are going to continue to try hard. We were told that no fifth-day tickets were printed, but we showed a never-say-die attitude and produced some very good performances.”
Meanwhile, West Indies paceman Shannon Gabriel has been ruled out of the remainder of the Test series against England because of a back injury.
Tino Best has been recalled to the squad in his place. Best, 30, has featired in 14 Tests and has made 12 One-Day International appearances, but last represented the West Indies in 2009.
Broad jumps to career-best
England all-rounder Stuart Broad has achieved a career-best position in the latest ICC Player Rankings following his maiden 10-wicket haul in the first Test against the West Indies.
The right-handed paceman has jumped to third place in the rankings – level with teammate James Anderson – after recording figures of seven for 72 and four for 93 in England’s five-wicket win at Lord’s on Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.