WCCC England

Woakes joins prestigious group of Bears with an England Test century

13 August 2018

Chris Woakes' brilliant century at Lord's made him the ninth Warwickshire player to score a Test century for England.

Woakes is the first Bear to score his maiden Test ton at the home of cricket – the others recorded the prestigious feat in points far-flung around the world – from Leeds to Lahore and from Sydney to Chester-le-Street. Brian Halford reports.

July 27, 1929. Bob Wyatt: 113 v South Africa at Old Trafford, England won by an innings and 32 runs

Bob Wyatt’s name will live forever at Edgbaston in the form of the RES Wyatt Stand – most appropriately as he was the first Warwickshire player to score a Test century for England.

It arrived in Wyatt’s sixth Test but first in his home country. He had already faced South Africa in an away series, 18 months earlier, and showed his quality with the ball, opening the bowling at Durban with a spell of 11-10-1-1 before returning to take two wickets in his first over back and ending with 13-10-4-3.

The following year Wyatt, who attended King Henry VIII School, Coventry, became the first player to score 2,000 runs in a season for Warwickshire. Recalled by England for the fourth Test of 1929, he seized his opportunity.

In the first innings, batting at number three, he scored 113 (14 fours) in a stand of 245 in 185 minutes with Frank Woolley which set up a crushing win. After England declared on 427 for seven, Tich Freeman spun them to victory with 12 wickets.

Wyatt went on to play 40 Tests for England, including 16 as captain.

July 23, 1959. Mike Smith: 100 v India at Old Trafford, England won by 171 runs

Having played three Tests against New Zealand the previous year without much success (0, 7, 47 and 3), Smith was recalled for the fourth Test against India with England totally dominant and 3-0 up in the series. It appeared a good time for ‘MJK’ to return and so it proved.

He went in to bat at a solid 164 for two and added 98 with Geoff Pullar (131) and 109 with Ken Barrington (87) on his way to a compact 100, constructed in 213 minutes with 12 fours.

MJK’s ton underpinned another victory and he followed up with 98 in the fifth Test at The Oval where England completed their first ever 5-0 series victory.

Smith was to play 50 Tests, remarkably, in half of which he was captain. Now aged 85, he stills follows Warwickshire’s fortunes closely and is an occasional and very welcome visitor to Edgbaston.

January 7, 1966. Bob Barber: 185 v Australia at Sydney England won by an innings and 93 runs

Bob Barber scored just a solitary Test century but it was a truly great one.

Opening the batting with Geoff Boycott in the third Ashes Test, Barber struck a brilliant 185 from just 255 balls with 19 fours. He took on an attack led by Graeme McKenzie and Neil Hawke and thrilled the spectators on his way to what remains the highest score by an England batsman on the opening day of an Ashes Test.

Barber added 234 with Boycott before falling, bowled by Hawke for 185 made in scintillating fashion out of 303.
Australia’s batsmen were then unpicked by Barber’s Bears colleague David Brown (five for 63) and their innings defeat was sealed on the fourth day when spinner Fred Titmus dismissed McKenzie – caught by Barber.

March 2, 1973. Dennis Amiss: 112 v Pakistan at Lahore, Match drawn

One of the most skilful batsmen of his generation, Dennis Amiss was often at his best when conditions were at their most demanding. His maiden Test century was a classic example. England opened their Test series against Pakistan having already been in Asia for three months and just completed an exhausting five-test tour of India.

Unsurprisingly, there was some illness in the camp and Amiss was among those affected on the eve of the match, but when England batted first he responded with a meticulous 113 in four and a half hours.

It was a triumph of physical strength as well as temperament and technique. Then in the second Test, at Hyderabad, Amiss scored 158, a more fluent innings of which Wisden wrote: “For the first time on the tour he batted with the savagery that marks his play for Warwickshire.”

Dennis Amiss had truly arrived on the Test match scene.

July 8, 1996. Nick Knight: 113 v Pakistan at Leeds, Match drawn

Fresh from an unbeaten 90 for Warwickshire against Pakistan at Edgbaston in the tourists’ only first-class defeat of their tour, and a half-century in the opening Test, Knight recorded his maiden Test ton in a run-soaked draw.

After Pakistan made 448, England were in danger of having to follow on until the left-hander, batting at six, joined opener Alec Stewart at the crease. After Stewart was dismissed for 170, Knight advanced to his century, the reaching of which chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth climbed upon a chair to applaud.

Having concentrated hard through a series of showers, Knight finally fell for 113 (176 balls, 16 fours). It was to be his only century of a 17-Test career which was unluckily hampered too often by injury and selectorial whim.

June 3, 2005. Ian Bell: 162 not out v Bangladesh at Chester-Le-Street, England won by an innings and 27 runs

The summer of 2005 towers in cricket history for the classic Ashes classic series but before that came a two-Test tussle with Bangladesh.

The second of those matches was notable for two things. It was the first Test match in England for 50 years not to start on a Thursday – and Ian Bell struck his maiden Test ton.

By the close of play on the first day (Friday) Bangladesh had already been skittled for 104 and Bell was unbeaten on 57 out of England’s reply of 269 for three. On Saturday, the Warwickshire batsman advanced fluently to his ton, scoring 105 in the morning session to reach lunch unbeaten on 162 – at which point came the declaration.

England coasted to victory and Bell, in his third Test, had the first century of what would become 22 in a magnificent 118-Test career.

March 13, 2008. Tim Ambrose: 102 v New Zealand at Wellington, England won by 126 runs

When Tim Ambrose made his Test debut, in the spring of 2008, against New Zealand at Hamilton, he started well with 55. England lost that match but won the next at Wellington, thanks not least to the wicketkeeper’s maiden Test ton. His match-turning 102 rescued England after none of illustrious top five Alastair Cook, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell had reached 50.

“Ambrose was a revelation, flaying anything short and wide and driving crisply when the bowlers overcompensated,” reported Wisden.

It was a landmark occasion for the Warwickshire favourite and he was an important contributor with the bat again in the decider as England fought back to win the series. That completed an excellent launch into his Test cricket for the former Sussex player, yet his Test career was to bring only 11 matches spanning less than a calendar year. Ambrose’s vibrant unbeaten 76 against West Indies in Bridgetown in March 2009 transpired to be his final Test innings.

August 20, 2009. Jonathan Trott: 119 v Australia at The Oval, England won by 197 runs

In the long history of Test cricket, few maiden centuries can match this one for drama, pathos or team-value.

Just two years after suffering in the collective nightmare 2007 season with Warwickshire, Trott had rediscovered his form so spectacularly that he was pitched into Test cricket – for an Ashes decider at The Oval. No pressure then…

Even chairman of selectors Geoff Miller admitted that nobody could ever know how Trott, or any debutant, would handle the pressure of a Test debut. Trott simply stated that he would try to stay relaxed.

He did it well enough…

After making an assured 41 in the first innings, Trott reached the crease in the second at 39 for three, with England 211 ahead overall, but wobbling. He settled in alongside Andrew Strauss to add 118 for the fourth wicket and then, after Strauss fell, shepherded the lower order superbly as England built a total which left them with one and a half hands on the urn.

Trott was last out for 119 in five and a half hours.

Job done. Ashes secured.

What pressure?

August 11, 2018: Chris Woakes 137 not out v India at Lord’s England won by and innings and 159 runs

In his last county match before his Test recall, a Vitality Blast game at Northampton, Chris Woakes bashed a thrilling half-century. He looked in rather good nick.

After that match-winning knock, Woakes reflected on his impending return to Test cricket after an injury-affected season.

“Whenever you get called up by England it’s a huge honour,” he said. “I never take it for granted but when you have spent a bit of time out of the team it means that little bit more to get back and be part of it.”

Speaking on the balcony at Northampton, Woakes seemed of a mind to make the most of his opportunity.

He could not have done so much more spectacularly.

Firstly with the ball as he removed the great Virat Kohli on his way to two for 19 as India were rattled all out for 107.

Then, in front of a packed Lord’s, came a Saturday-afternoon masterpiece with the bat. What a setting and what an innings as Woakes unfurled strokes all round the wicket on his way to an unbeaten 137 from 177 balls with 21 fours.

“A dream come true,” he admitted.

Woakes had become the ninth Warwickshire player to fulfil the dream of scoring a Test century for England. A prestigious list of just nine names in well over a century of cricket.

Who will be the tenth on that list?