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Cook century puts England on top

Investec Test Series

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook progresses to a century against Warwickshire at Edgbaston to help England declare on 290 for eight

Alastair Cook warmed up for the npower Ashes with a determined century as England dominated the opening day of their warm-up match against Warwickshire.

The Essex left-hander hit a timely 124 at Edgbaston to help England end day one of their three-day match, arranged to gain useful practice ahead of next Wednesday's opening npower Ashes Test at Cardiff, 259 runs in front.

Captain Andrew Strauss declared England’s innings on 290 for eight from 78 overs and James Anderson had Ian Westwood caught behind before the close when Warwickshire were 31 for one.

Cook hit 21 boundaries in his innings, spanning nearly four hours, to ensure he will report for duty against Australia next week in prime form. He hit 160 on his previous England appearance in the second npower Test against West Indies in May.

Batting on a strip positioned towards the Tom Dollery Stand, which gave England an uneven 48-yard boundary to aim at on one side and 92 yards on the other, Cook looked in confident form from the beginning.

Put in to bat by a Warwickshire side missing Ian Bell, who is captaining England Lions against Australia at Worcester, Neil Carter and injured overseas player Jeetan Patel, England made a solid start as Cook and Strauss forged a 61-run opening stand.

That partnership was broken by 26-year-old seamer Naqaash Tahir, who tempted Strauss into driving at a full-length ball which he edged to Rikki Clarke at second slip.

Strauss had already been given one reprieve when he was dropped by Tony Frost at second slip after edging left-arm seamer Keith Barker on 20.

Naqaash Tahir & Andrew Flintoff

Naqaash Tahir has Andrew Flintoff caught at slip for 19 as England lost five wickets for 77 runs during the afternoon

But Strauss failed to exploit that escape and added only 11 more before falling, only for Cook to team up with Essex team-mate Ravi Bopara in a 101-run partnership which guided England into mid-afternoon.

Bopara must have sensed his third England century of the summer, having scored two against West Indies, after easing to 43 without any great concern.

Perhaps lulled into complacency by a flat-looking surface, Bopara was caught at deep midwicket pulling Ireland seamer Boyd Rankin.

Tempted by the short boundary on offer, Kevin Pietersen must have been similarly confident of making an impression in his final opportunity before the start of the Ashes.

But after struggling for 13 minutes at the crease to score one, Pietersen fell four overs later when he pushed at all-rounder Clarke and gave a catch to second slip.

Cook followed two overs before the tea interval when he edged behind off Trott's medium-pace, beginning a mini collapse of five wickets for 77 runs.

Paul Collingwood was bowled by Keith Barker, earning him his maiden first-class wicket, for 16 after 72 minutes at the crease.

Tahir (3-54) then accounted for Prior (10) and Flintoff (19) in quick succession and the bowler later caught Graeme Swann (14) to give Clarke his second wicket. Stuart Broad was unbeaten on 22.

Anderson, who opened the bowling with Broad, made England’s sole breakthrough in 10 overs before the close when opener Frost had three and Trott 18.

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