2015 Test Century Watch #19 – Alastair Cook

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Alastair Cook – 105 v West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados

And so it came to pass on the first day of the fifth month of the year two thousand and three fives since the birth of our lord, that Saint Alastair of Cook made his 26th test century. And there was great rejoicing among the corps de press, and amongst former disciples and pharisees, who announced from the highest heights that the lord and saviour was “back to his best” and doth bellowed from their pulpits that the Saint had “rammed the critics’ words back down your throats” and “be quiet muppets”.

Alastair Cook’s 26th test hundred came nearly two years after his previous one. In that time he immortalised the number 95, and went the number of innings not making a century from the opener slot that was inhabited by people like Mike Brearley. I could make this a whole piece on the nonsense between hundreds, but let’s try to keep this true to form.

Only one of Cook’s tons has been less than 105 – his unbeaten first century on debut v India at Nagpur where he made 104 not out. This was his second century at Kensington Oval, where he made 139 not out in the first innings back in 2009, and it remains his only venue in the Caribbean where he has made a test hundred. This is his fourth century against West Indies, and as we’ll see later, he’s not exactly gone on from the three figure score in those innings. This is his first test century in the first innings of a test match (first overall, not England’s first innings) since his 115 in 2012 v South Africa.

Have you seen a 105 Dmitri? Well, funny you should ask, but I saw a large part of a 105 made by Alastair Cook, when he made that score v Pakistan at Lord’s in 2006. I have seen two others at The Oval – the first by Chris Gayle in 2004, in an innings that drove Michael Holding mad I seem to recall, and the other by Justin Langer in 2005, when the Aussies started getting us all worried with that opening partnership. There have been 92 scores of 105 in test cricket. Alastair Cook and Jacques Kallis are the only two players to have been dismissed three times on that score. Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara have also made the score three times, but both have a not out to their name.

In our vintage slot, we go back to the first 105 made in tests, and that took place a mere 130 years ago (any jokes about it seeming like that between Cook’s last two hundreds is your gag, not mine). His name was Arthur Shrewsbury Sr, and he made his unbeaten 105 at the MCG. The home team had been dismissed for 163, and it reached that due to the Demon Spofforth making 50 from number 11. In England’s reply of 386, made over a very sedate 221 overs, Shrewsbury came in at 97 for 3 and batted for over 5 hours in making his score. Must have got a wiggle on with that over rate. England went on to seal an innings victory, bowling out Australia for 125 in a mere 102 overs. Paul Collingwood….beat that. The match report is worth reading.

The first 105 in the West Indies was by Les Ames in 1930 at Port of Spain. Doug McGlew’s 105 against Australia in 1958 held the record for the slowest ever test hundred until Mudassar Nazar beat him twenty or so years later. Just the nine hours and five minutes in getting to three figures. Fifty of these 105s have been scored since 1992, although it has been over a year since the last one – Virat Kohli made 105 against New Zealand at Wellington last year (after McCullum’s triple). Sherwin Campbell made the last 105 at Bridgetown, in the famous 1999 test against Australia (think Brian Lara).

This was England’s 17th test century in Bridgetown. Alastair Cook nestles in at #15. The record score for an England player is, surprisingly, 154 by Mark Ramprakash in 1998. Only one other player has passed 150 there for England, and it’s that man Andrew Sandham again, who made 152 in 1930. Alastair Cook joins Alec Stewart (two in one match) and Graham Thorpe as the only England players to make two centuries in Barbados.

Going back to Sandham, that 152 was made in the first innings of the first test. After a lean run in tests 2 and 3, Sandham made 325 and 50 in a timeless 4th test and never played for England again.

Imagine that, Alastair.

Alastair Cook’s 100 came up in 259 balls and contained 10 x 4.

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12 thoughts on “2015 Test Century Watch #19 – Alastair Cook

  1. Arron Wright May 4, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    Graham Thorpe’s Bridgetown century in 2004, though. Oh my days, what an innings, what a man.

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      • Arron Wright May 4, 2015 / 9:17 pm

        When I put together my dream England XI post-1981, I weep inside because I have to leave Robin Smith out, even though he’s probably my subjective favourite batsman of them all. That’s how great Thorpe is though.

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  2. Tony Bennett May 4, 2015 / 9:13 pm

    Nice historical perspective there. Sandham was of course nearly 40, and playing for what was very much an England B team, in a winter in which a totally different B team played Tests concurrently in NZ. Naturally he couldn’t get a look-in back in England for the Ashes series in 1930. There are a number of ways in which I can see that the old chopping and changing approach had advantages over the current arrangements.

    Shrewsbury’s hundred was scored in a match of 4 balls to an over, so the scoring rate was just a bit better than one might think.

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    • LordCanisLupus May 4, 2015 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Tony, especially for the four ball over clarification. Thought the over rate was a bit rapid!

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      • Tony Bennett May 4, 2015 / 9:17 pm

        That McGlew effort though. Proper batting.

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  3. wrongunatlongon May 4, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    in a way it’s quite nice that Cook scored in this match in particular on this tour. It’s a nice reminder that it isn’t just his batting, which has been poor if slightly improved, that most of us have real issue with. It’s his decisions and leadership and his wet-fish interviews. Boycs’ article in the Torygraph is worth a view:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/england/11582181/Alastair-Cook-is-so-up-himself-he-thinks-he-is-untouchable-as-England-captain.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright May 4, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      Blimey. That headline reads like one of us wrote it!

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus May 4, 2015 / 9:32 pm

        The piece seems vaguely familiar (aside from the professional Yorkshireman stuff) too. Think it fair to say Boycott’s burning a few bridges here….

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      • Pontiac May 4, 2015 / 11:56 pm

        As fuel for kremlinology, that article is top shelf.

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  4. Escort May 4, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    A great piece Dimitri.

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  5. Clivejw May 4, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    I can’t remember Holding being mad at Gayle’s hundred, or the celebration thereof as West Indies spiralled to a fourth consecutive defeat, but I certainly remember Viv walking out of the TMS studio after saying exactly what he thought of it.

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