Century on Test debut gives Strauss his place in history

New Zealand 386 England 246-2

Andrew Strauss was already on one of the honours boards in the home dressing-room at Lord's. As captain of Middlesex, his name sits proudly below the likes of Gubby Allen, Denis Compton, Mike Brearley and Mike Gatting.

But this board will no longer be the first he looks at when he turns up for work. Following yesterday's superb century Strauss's name will now join another list, the one containing many of the greats in English cricket. Boycott, Gooch, Hutton, Hammond, Cowdrey and Hobbs: they are all there.

But before Strauss's arrival only one of these players had posted a hundred on his Test debut. John Hampshire, who scored 107 against the West Indies in 1969, was the only other English batsman to gain the distinction of reaching three figures here in his first Test innings.

But the size of the 27-year-old's achievement does not end there. When Strauss drove Chris Martin through the covers for four he became only the third England opener - after W G Grace, S C Griffith and C A Milton - to score a century on his debut. Strauss was not the only player to enter the record books on an intriguing day. Chris Cairns lit the morning with a sensational 47-ball innings of 82. During his demolition of England's bowlers the all-rounder struck four sixes, the third of which allowed him to overtake Viv Richards and become the leading six hitter in the history of Test cricket. And it was just as well for New Zealand that Cairns was at his brutal best. Without him their lead - 140 - and their chances of winning this Test would be far less.

But enough of the statistics. During his five hours at the crease Strauss played an innings of enormous character. On Monday he was preparing to play for Middlesex at the Oval and it was only through the injury to Michael Vaughan that he gained this unexpected opportunity. Two half-centuries during England's one-day series in the Caribbean had given the selectors a glimpse of his potential, but following yesterday's display it will be hard for them to leave him out at Headingley. With Vaughan almost certain to play in the second Test, Strauss's hundred has put even further pressure on Nasser Hussain when he comes out to bat.

The New Zealand bowling may have been pedestrian, but Strauss never looked in trouble from the moment he took guard. He tucked his second ball through square leg for two and struck his first boundary, via a glorious straight drive, for four. In fact, the only time he showed any nerves was when he reached the nineties.

It is not just the array of attacking shots which have to be looked at when an opener is analysed. Against the new ball and fresh bowlers a solid defence is also required. Strauss possesses both but his biggest asset is the lump which rests on his shoulders. That the left-hander made the most of his chance will not have surprised those that have worked with him. Since joining the Middlesex staff from Durham University there has been something special and deliberate about his manner. He always looked as though he would succeed.

Strauss is not one of the most naturally talented players, but his desire to make the most of what he has, and his commitment to this cause, are second to none. He is an intelligent young man who has worked out his game and this is a day he fully deserves. During his early years as a professional he spent a lot of time working with Justin Langer, the Australian opener, and this can be seen in his batting. Like most lefties, Strauss is particularly strong through the off side, but he has also become a very good collector of runs off his legs.

Many will take credit for yesterday's innings, but Andy Wagner, the master of cricket at Radley College, and Bert Robinson, who coached Ted Dexter in his youth, have done as much as anybody to mould his career. The pair have brought on several outstanding cricketers for Middlesex, and they will take particular pleasure from this performance.

Throughout the majority of his innings Strauss benefited from the calming influence of Marcus Trescothick. On the few occasions when Strauss struggled, the England captain immediately went down the wicket and gave his young apprentice a word of comfort. Trescothick failed to see Strauss home, but he can be equally pleased with his contribution of 86.

Though the batting of this pair allowed England to move into a strong position it was the morning session which gave another healthy crowd the greatest entertainment. Lord's has witnessed many memorable innings, but few can have matched the power of Cairns. In 62 scintillating minutes of cricket the tourists' premier all-rounder smashed England's bowlers to every corner of this famous old arena.

The 33-year-old waited until he had reached his half-century before he began to scatter the crowd, but once he found his range those seated in the first 10 rows of every stand needed to keep their eyes on the game.

The first six was a vicious pull off Simon Jones, but it was the second maximum, a sliced drive off Stephen Harmison over backward point, which allowed Cairns to equal Richards' record of 84 sixes. Andrew Flintoff replaced Jones at the Pavilion End, but this failed to prevent Cairns moving ahead of his childhood hero with an effortless clip over deep midwicket's head. On seeing the ball drop into the Mound Stand, the right-hander's face lit up.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star