Cook lifts the gloom for England with fifth ton
Alastair Cook brought a ray of light into the gloom of English cricket on Thursday with an unbeaten century against West Indies at Lord's.
After the crushing disappointments of an Ashes whitewash and feeble World Cup showing, the 22-year-old opener reminded the headquarters faithful that England do know how to play the game as he ended a stop-start day on 102 with the hosts 200-3 on the first day of the first test.
The left-hander looked confident from the rain-delayed start - as well he might after carving out three first-class centuries coming into the game - and did not founder when he lost captain Andrew Strauss after putting on an untroubled 88 for the first wicket.
He played the anchor role while Kevin Pietersen briefly flourished then grew in stature alongside Paul Collingwood in an afternoon punctuated by stops for bad light.
Playing with the unhurried ease that has marked his remarkable first year at the top level, Cook was generally untroubled by the visiting pace attack and raised the biggest cheer of an otherwise uninspired opening day when he reached his second Lord's test hundred in the 55th over.
It was his fifth test century in 15 matches since he blasted onto the international scene with 60 and 104 not out in his unexpected debut test in India last March.
He made it look easy with two further tons on home soil against Pakistan but Australia proved a tougher nut to crack and though he made 116 in the Perth test he averaged only 27.6 from his 10 Ashes innings.
Recalling the 5-0 debacle, he told reporters on Thursday: "What happened there, I wouldn't wish it on anyone's worst enemy. Those feelings in those certain games, it's hard now to bring it up. A lot of people went through hell on that tour.
"You have got to look at it and learn from it, there's only one way. As a side in the new era we have to look forward."
Spared the bruising of the World Cup and refreshed after the Ashes slog, he tore into the new season with two centuries for Essex and one for the MCC and carried that form effortlessly back into the test arena.
"It's as much mental as it is technical, just decision making," Cook said.