Strauss carries England home
Andrew Strauss’ fluent unbeaten century helped England make a winning start to their Ashes tour with victory over Western Australia.
The skipper’s 120 not out underpinned the tourists’ pursuit of 243 at the WACA as they triumphed by six wickets with 4.2 overs to spare.
Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood made useful contributions against an inexperienced attack before Ian Bell accompanied Strauss over the finish line.
It capped a convincing day’s work for England, who produced a much-improved display with the ball to bowl WA - resuming on 109 for one - out for 223 shortly after lunch.
Only two dropped catches spoiled England's efforts in the field as they nonetheless took eight wickets for 64 runs.
Steven Finn found his range after occasionally wayward first-innings spells, Stuart Broad took a wicket with only his second ball after replacing him at the Lillee-Marsh Stand end, and Graeme Swann bowled unchanged today to emerge with figures of 4-101 from 28.5 overs.
England suffered an early hiccup in their pursuit when Alastair Cook fell cheaply for the second time in the game, the left-hander having his off bail trimmed by a beauty from Michael Hogan.
However, in benign conditions and against an attack missing the injured Steve Magoffin, Strauss and Trott shared a trouble-free second-wicket stand of 65 until the latter was caught behind down the leg side off part-time medium-pacer Luke Pomersbach.
Pietersen gave England breathing space, dominating a partnership of 66 in only eight overs with Strauss as he flayed 35 off just 22 balls.
He took a particular liking to Michael Beer but, after hitting him for 16 in leg-side boundaries in one over, he was lbw attempting to reverse-sweep the slow left-armer.
Strauss, who had profited principally throughout with variations of the pull and some subtler back-foot deflections, pressed on to a 131-ball hundred which was reached with a straight-driven four at off-spinner Michael Swart’s expense, his 13th boundary.
Collingwood shared the third half-century alliance of the innings with Strauss despite never looking comfortable and, after the former had squeezed a catch out to point off Beer, Bell's serene unbeaten 22 off 18 deliveries helped England wrap up victory.
The day did not start auspiciously for the tourists when Finn's first delivery was cut dismissively for four by Swart, who then mistimed an attempted repeat off the next straight into - and out of - the hands of Bell at gully.
That drop did not prove too costly, the WA number three adding only 10 before Finn had him lbw pushing half-forward for 30.
Wes Robinson completed his second half-century of the match with a slog-sweep off Swann - the last of his nine fours in an innings spanning 109 balls - but had added only eight to his overnight 46 when he was drawn forward by the off-spinner and stumped soon afterwards.
WA's powerhouse middle-order pair Marcus North and Adam Voges made only one each. The captain was called through for a sharp single into the leg side by Voges and appeared to think he was getting home safely only to be run-out by a direct hit from substitute fielder Eoin Morgan.
Broad then produced a fine delivery ball which left Voges - he was well caught behind by Matt Prior - placing the onus on WA's naturally free-scoring pair of Pomersbach and Luke Ronchi.
The former, who escaped a sharp half-chance to Collingwood at slip off Swann, was soon fancying his chances but aimed against the spin once too often and looped a simple leading edge to Collingwood.
Broad located Ryan Duffield’s edge, but it was only when Ronchi poked a catch straight back at Swann just before lunch that England could start to anticipate a feasible run-chase.
Magoffin made up for his absence in the field by helping number 11 Hogan to grab 29 quick for the last wicket.
Hogan’s 21 off 12 balls included three big blows over the top off four Swann deliveries before he ended the innings by running himself out.