Prior's thrilling debut cements England's command
England 553 for 5 (Prior 126*, Collingwood 111, Bell 109*, Cook 105) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Matt Prior became the first English wicketkeeper to score a hundred on Test debut as West Indies were flayed on the second day of the first Test at Lord's. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell also joined the three-figure club to make it four England century-makers in the same innings for only the second time in history.
It took Prior just 105 balls to reach his hundred, more runs than Geraint Jones and Chris Read managed between them in five Tests in Australia. It was a brazen, thrilling display of striking from someone making their debut. Some of the bowling, especially when Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan were in action, was not of international standard yet the manner in which it was unceremoniously dispatched spoke volumes of Prior's confidence. Bell couldn't help play second fiddle, but his 180-ball century continued a profitable association with the No. 6 berth where he made hundreds in three consecutive Tests last year against Pakistan.
Prior's innings was so dominant that he beat Bell, who had a 56-run headstart, to three figures when he carved Gayle through the covers. He was quick to turn to the pavilion and salute his new team-mates and, no doubt, Peter Moores who has played such a crucial role in his development and ultimate selection to the Test side. The hallmarks of his innings, which will be well-known to Sussex fans, were his thumping pull shots - which West Indies oddly fed having not bowled a bouncer throughout the first day - and a sweet cover drive played with a huge stride plus a touch of Kevin Pietersen's authority. It must be the South African in him. And it wasn't as though he came into the game with a stack of runs under his belt.
As the light began to close in, and England realised there was little point in a declaration, Prior brought out a reverse sweep (copyright Andy Flower) while also driving handsomely down the ground. Recent England sides have had a habit of losing focus when a team is on the rack, but the early signs are this team want to rediscover a ruthless streak. The last time four Englishmen hit centuries in the same innings was against Australia, at Trent Bridge, in 1938.
Their fifth-wicket stand of 144 set up the platform from which the later onslaught was possible. Alastair Cook fell early, during West Indies' best period of bowling with Jerome Taylor troubling the batsmen with swing, and the first hour was a testing period. If West Indies had taken their chances - Daren Ganga dropped a sitter at gully with Collingwood on 31 and Taylor fluffed a steepler at deep square-leg with him on 36 - they could have kept themselves in the match. Between the two catches Taylor was denied a plumb lbw when Collingwood padded up and somehow Asad Rauf didn't raise his finger.
But Collingwood is at his best when he has to bat ugly and after three lives there was a feeling it was his day. He continued his trend of starting a series in style, bringing up his ton from 178 balls with a thick edge to third man. The style, though, didn't matter it was the substance that counted. It was the third of his four centuries to come in his first innings of a series following his maiden hundred against India at Nagpur and the 186 against Pakistan at Lord's last year. Dwayne Bravo eventually broke through - if all the West Indies players had his enthusiasm they'd be a much better team - and Collingwood's 111 was the lowest of his four Test centuries.
Bell took 17 balls to open his account against early darting deliveries, but produced a chanceless innings. His cover-driving was in fine working order while the cut shot was given plenty of grooving. However, that strokeplay was soon put into the shade by Prior. There will be some tough calls to make when it comes to fitting in England's batsmen who are currently missing, but Prior ends his second day as a Test cricketer with the knowledge he's safe for the foreseeable future.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo