Strauss celebrates key century

CAPTAIN Andrew Strauss billed his unbeaten 161 as the best Test hundred of his career after England’s day of two halves against Australia at Lord’s.

Strauss’ 18th Test hundred shaped England’s progress in the second Ashes contest – sharing in the biggest opening stand against Australia for 18 years with Alastair Cook – but the loss of six wickets for 137 runs in the second half of the day somewhat undermined a stunning start.

They will resume this morning on 364 for six, intent on posting a larger total than the 435 they managed in the dramatic drawn opener in Cardiff last week.

“It’s got to be right up there,” said Strauss, of his personal contribution.

“An Ashes Test at Lord’s is pretty much the number one Test you can play, so to get a hundred on day one is very special. Hopefully there is unfinished business and I can go on and get some more runs”

His 196-run alliance with Cook (95) was eventually concluded by erratic left-armer Mitchell Johnson when a full delivery won a straightforward leg before appeal.

“I really enjoyed the opening partnership and we managed to get some early ascendancy over the Aussies but as is often the case they came back well in that final session,” said Strauss.

“It’s slightly disappointing from 196 for nought but there are more wicket-taking opportunities here than there were in Cardiff. The ball swung around a little bit more.”

Strauss also skipped past 5000 runs in just his 64th Test but put that into perspective. “When you see Ricky (Ponting) has 11000 runs, then 5000 runs feels like you are just out of nappies, I guess,” he joked.

The morning session proved child’s play as Strauss and Cook both latched on to some loose stuff from the inexperienced tourists’ attack.

Johnson, who claimed Cook as his 100th Test victim, went for half of the 22 boundaries struck before lunch.

“In Test cricket if you feel a guy is a little bit down then it’s important you take advantage of that,” said Strauss. Johnson has bowled a hell of a lot of good overs recently so we expected him to come back pretty strongly.”

But Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin admitted he and his colleagues were overawed by the occasion of a Lord’s Test.

“It was a false start,” Haddin said. “Maybe the occasion got to a few of us. I certainly tensed up a little bit and the occasion of Lord’s got too big for a few of us. You put so much pressure on yourself to do well when you walk out at Lord’s – it is similar to playing the Boxing Day Test in Australia.”

The fightback was impressive, however, once the misfiring Johnson dismissed Cook for 95.

“We were looking down the barrel of a very bad day at none for 200,” Haddin added. “But the bottom line is, as well as we went today, they have 360 on the board, and it is going to be a massive first session tomorrow.”

Australia, meanwhile, are hopeful off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who dislocated a finger when he dropped a stinging return chance off Strauss shortly after lunch, will be fit to bowl later in this match.

He attempted to send down a few deliveries after the close of play but was experiencing discomfort.

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