Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 8, 2007

Jaques takes centre stage

Phil Jaques overcame a slow start to score his maiden Test century (file photo) © Getty Images
Phil Jaques wasn't the only one ecstatic after his maiden Test century and the cries of congratulations continued as he prepared to talk about his breakthrough innings. A jubilant spectator who had bet on him to reach three figures delayed Jaques' self-analysis and embarrassed him slightly.

"You paid $6.50, Jaques, I love you," the man yelled as he waved his winning ticket into the conference room. The reward for Jaques was much greater after waiting eight months to become Matthew Hayden's full-time partner. "It's been a long wait and a tough wait and I felt I did the hard work early," he said. "It's just really exciting to get the first hundred."

Once Jaques was set, he was able to cruise, but the first session was incredibly difficult as he dealt with rain delays and a seaming pitch. Neither he nor Hayden made terminal errors and their opening stand of 69 was crucial in setting up Australia's 3 for 242.

Jaques was able to stay calm despite not scoring from his first 34 balls and a cautious start was part of the plan. "There was a bit in the wicket early and the main job as opener is to take the shine off the ball," he said. "I guess 34 balls is a long time to take the shine off the ball.

"I was just trying to grind it out this morning and get to lunch and beyond, just trying to wear them down. I knew the wicket was going to get better and I'm really happy to get the rewards at the end of the day."

The pitch did improve and Jaques was particularly strong pulling and back-foot driving. He struck 13 boundaries and when he raised the century from his 196th delivery he shared a meaningful celebration with Michael Hussey, while his wife, sister and brother-in-law applauded from the stands.

"It was hard to keep the emotions in," he said. "I'm over the moon. I'm a bit disappointed I got out on 100, but happy that I got there."

Jaques fell seven balls after the milestone when he left his crease to chase a slower, more flighted delivery from Muttiah Muralitharan and was stumped. "He did me all ends up," Jaques said. "I'm disappointed I left my crease because I hadn't really done it all day."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo