Cook, Stokes revive England in Test match against New Zealand
Centuries by Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes propelled England to 429-6 for a lead of 295 over New Zealand yesterday, as the hosts took back control of the first Test at Lord's heading into the final day.
The hundreds came in vastly different fashion, but appropriate at the time in the match.
Cook, along with Joe Root, who made 84, answered a desperate need by their team for someone to dig in and score big, after England started the day at 74-2 and 60 runs behind. Cook's solution was his 27th hundred, and batting through the whole day.
Cook faced 206 balls and hit a dozen boundaries. By stumps, he was on 153, batting for more than 6 1/2 hours. He was also 41 runs away from becoming England's highest Test run-scorer, eclipsing mentor Graham Gooch.
Stokes replaced Root, was unfazed by the second new ball and remarkably shredded the New Zealand attack with the second fastest Test century by an Englishman, albeit one born in New Zealand.
Stokes reached his 100 in 86 balls, with three sixes off Southee, and 15 boundaries. It was tied for the second fastest hundred with one of Ian Botham's famed cracks in the 1981 Ashes. The fastest used 76 balls in 1902 by Gilbert Jessop, the England dasher of his era.
"I was nervous in the 90s because I got pretty close last time," Stokes said. "Once I hit the straight four to go to 99, I felt the nerves go. To get the single was pretty special."
Stokes was beaten for turn and dismissed for 101 in a partnership of 132 with Cook.
His second Test hundred, after scoring 92 in the first innings, ensured England can dictate the fifth day. Stokes said they hope to lead by 350-400, then see how New Zealand respond on a pitch still offering seam and turn, but also helping batsmen.
"Wickets can fall quickly at Lord's," he said. "It happened last time England played New Zealand here."
That was two years, when the Kiwis gave themselves 239 to win and were all out for 68. Yesterday was a day of disappointment for them, but the Test can still be salvaged with quick wickets on the final morning.
Each day of this 100th Test between them has seen fortunes swing and 300-plus runs. It's far from over.