England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's, 1st day May 17, 2007

Cook's calmness guides England

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England 200 for 3 (Cook 102*, Collingwood 21*) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details



Alastair Cook's fifth Test century was full of trademark shots and was his quickest to date © Kieran Galvin
This Test is all about fresh starts and new eras, but Alastair Cook was more than happy to rekindle Lord's memories of the past. His calm and assured century, an unbeaten 102, gave England the honours as an overcast opening day was reduced to 56 overs. Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen threatened major contributions before giving it away, but West Indies failed to make the most of ideal bowling conditions.

One of the fascinations of this series is to watch how England's players react to their debilitating winter. For Cook the early signs are that there are no lasting scars. He returned from the Ashes knowing that he needed to work on his off-stump technique, which led to six dismissals behind the wicket in Australia, and has begun the season with three centuries for Essex.

His record at Lord's is impressive - last season he made 89 and 105 against Sri Lanka and Pakistan - and prior to today's innings he'd already registered a ton for MCC in the opening match of the season against Sussex. The home of cricket can overwhelm some and inspire others: for Cook it's definitely the latter. His fifth century, in just 15 Tests, makes him the fifth to achieve that feat after Walter Hammond, Len Hutton, Peter Parfitt and Strauss. It was also, by far, his swiftest to date, coming off 162 balls.

Cook wasn't perturbed by the stoppages for light and his only concerns were the occasional prod outside off stump which suggested there is still work to do, although West Indies' attack wasn't consistent enough to exploit the weakness in the same manner that the Australians had done. Early in his innings Cook was more comfortable against straight deliveries he could work through midwicket, but once passed fifty his offside range came into view.

Bowling first was clearly the correct decision from Ramnaresh Sarwan, his first main task as West Indies' new captain, but putting the onus on his undercooked attack was a gamble. They hadn't bowled a ball in anger since arriving in England and their rustiness was clear during the morning session. It improved markedly later in the day, led by the wholehearted Daren Powell and ebullient Dwayne Bravo, but it was another case of a touring itinerary impacting on the quality of cricket. Without careless drives from Strauss and Pietersen the match could already have slipped away.



Daren Powell was the pick of an under-cooked West Indies attack © Getty Images
In early conditions perfect for swing and seam bowling the England openers were allowed the opportunity for early boundaries, especially by Jerome Taylor who struggled for his rhythm and with the slope. Cook and Strauss reached a fifty stand in the 13th over - something they didn't manage throughout the Ashes - and Sarwan struggled to stem the runs.

Lord's lunches are legendary, and whatever the West Indies bowlers ate certainly re-energised them. Powell broke through in the third over of the afternoon session, when Strauss drove lazily to point, and provided a testing start for Owais Shah on his return to the side in place of the injured Andrew Flintoff. Shah took a painful blow on the helmet from Taylor's wild throw from mid-on and fell shortly afterwards, squared-up by Powell and edging to third slip.

Cook, though, was continuing in his own comfortable world. West Indies began to fire the ball wide, but patience is one of his virtues and he was happy to bide his time and wait for the loose deliveries. However, Pietersen is much more pro-active. It took him just 16 deliveries to reach the twenties until being tied down by Bravo and Corey Collymore. Following an early tea he was again eager not to hang around and couldn't resist a dart at one of Bravo's full swingers and West Indies' chief catcher, Smith, juggled a couple of times before holding his third catch.

With England 's leading batsman back in the pavilion there was an opportunity, with the ball still swinging, for West Indies to balance the ledger. Bravo passed Paul Collingwood's outside edge - emphasising the missed opportunity - but this was countered by typically punchy shots. Cook's century was virtually the final act before the gloom closed in but his efforts ensured it was England's new era which started brightest.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo