|Strauss back cuts for his ton|
The weather and dour members bore no resemblance to the cricket.
In the centre, it was a day to savour for Andrew Strauss. It seems a long time ago that Strauss, the outsider, finally ascended to the sometimes poisoned challis that is the English captaincy. Lifted to the role after Freddie Flintoff's very public demise at the hands of knees and depression and the desperate experiment with Kevin Pietersen, he clad steel onto the raw talent, teaching his men to be tough in the hardest place of all, the mind. Pummelled by the perennially brash, talented and at times lucky Australians, good young men like Ian Bell and James Anderson were sinking until Strauss taught them how to swim. He found ways for egos with names such as Pietersen and Swann to become great team players but still remain individuals. Most importantly for the Pink Gin set, he beat the Australians at home and then away and in the process returned England to former glories and the top rung of cricket's most important ladder. He is, arguably, England greatest captain ...
... which explains Fleet Street's rising demands for his head.
Like Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, in a history of the game which thirty year olds believe to be complete, Strauss rose above a media driven hysteria at Lords today and finally converted what have been a succession of good starts into a century. It had been 26 innings since the last: a series defining hundred at Brisbane in November, 2010, in the first Test of a campaign to retain the Ashes that was so successful it removed the Australia selection panel, the coach, the captain and changed the entire way cricket was played and administered in Australia. How many captains can claim that?
Of course, according to Michael Atherton, not one person in the cricket media has called for the head of Andrew Strauss. He clearly never proof reads his own articles.
|Trott made 58|
|Sammy removes Trott|
Strauss and Pietersen added fifty, most of which consisted of Pietersen's audacity. He pulled balls to the boundary from the front foot and had both feet on the batting accelerator when he slashed an innocuous Marlon Samuels "nudie" outside off stump - aren't they all - and put a thin edge into Ramdin's gloves.
Earlier in the day, the suggested form of Shannon Gabriel became a reality in just one delivery. Perfect ball, perfect catch at a perfect height. The only imperfection came in the shot. Shiv Chanderpaul could have come out without his kit. Stuart Broad finished with seven wickets, his fifth and best five wicket or better return in Tests. Four out of five of them have come in England and each on a different ground.
England have spent two days playing like the best team in the world but there can be nothing but praise for the West Indians. Whilst rash strokes and bad calling cost them dearly with the bat, they bowled with great heart. Despite their good lines and length and heart, they have now given up three centuries in consecutive innings of the tour after Taylor stitched them up in the first innings against the Lions, they were Rooted in the second and Strauss stayed composed today.
Still, there is more hope for them than this writer's corny puns.