Cricket / Century Duty: 'We had done a good job . . . Even Goochie smiled': England's captain will this week become only the 14th cricketer to play in 100 Tests. Rob Steen analyses the achievement and asks four centurions to pick their finest hour

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Colin Cowdrey (England)

Test debut 1954

THE high point for me, without doubt, was scoring my first Test hundred, in front of a full house at Melbourne. We had just won the second Test, albeit narrowly, to draw level in what turned out to be a very hard series. The pitch was damp on the first morning and although it dried up after lunch we were already deep in trouble against Lindwall and Miller by then.

I came in at 21 for 2 and we were soon 29 for 3, then 41 for 4. Somehow I managed to stay afloat and eventually started to time my shots rather well. When I got to 97 I played a shot just past mid-on which looked to be worth no more than a single. But we turned it into two, and when the crowd realised we might get three they cheered like hell. I thought the roof would come off. They were wonderfully generous. Fifty thousand turned up on the final day to see Australia win, but Frank Tyson scotched that.

Clive Lloyd (West Indies)

Test debut 1966

IN some ways my most cherished moment was reaching my first Test century, against England at Port-of-Spain in 1967-68, but overall I would have to plump for my first match as captain.

Gary Sobers had just retired and I had no leadership experience whatsoever when we opened the 1974-75 series against India in Bangalore. We earned a narrow first-innings lead of 29 on a turning pitch, but had lost two wickets and Roy Fredericks to an ankle injury by the time I came in on the fourth day to face Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkat. They surrounded me with close fielders so I decided that the best approach was to attack. I reached my hundred off 85 balls and went on to 163, which allowed us to declare an hour before the close and set them 386. Keith Boyce quickly dismissed Sunny Gavaskar for a duck and we were on our way, bowling them out for 118.

Kapil Dev (India)

Test debut 1978

NO captain could wish for more than victory over England at Lord's, especially at the start of a series, and I like to think I played my part in achieving that on the 1986 tour. We led by 40-odd on the first innings and the crucial phase of the game came on the fourth morning.

Facing batsmen of the calibre of Gooch, Gower, Gatting and Lamb meant there was always the chance that England could post a big total and put us under pressure on the last day, so we had to get them out as quickly as possible. Chetan Sharma and I kept pressurising them with good line-and-length bowling and they kept playing across the line.

I made one lift off a length to have Tim Robinson caught and that gave us the start we needed. In my next over I cut one back to trap Gooch and then did likewise to Gower with England still a dozen runs behind. That, effectively, settled the contest.

David Gower (England)

Test debut 1978

IN terms of the quality of the opposing attack, my best knock came on the last day of the 1980-81 series in the Caribbean, when I made an unbeaten 154 against Holding, Croft, Marshall and Garner, but the day I remember most fondly was the first day of The Oval Test against Australia in 1985. At the start we were 2-1 up in the series but needed to avoid defeat to be sure of regaining the Ashes. You might say we were well placed when we ended that first day on 376 for 3. We needed some luck early on. I can recall one ball from Craig McDermott lobbing up off the shoulder of my bat. Luckily, it flew over the slips, and then it was pretty much plain sailing, Goochie and I managing to put on 350-odd. The fourth and final morning was almost as unforgettable. Not only did we win, but, just for a change, we had the feeling we'd worked bloody hard and done a good job . . . Even Goochie smiled.

(Photographs omitted)

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