CRICKET: Unbeaten Cook century gives England upper hand

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ALASTAIR Cook was relieved to at last complete his 20th Test century after a clutch of near misses.

Cook’s unbeaten 114 on day one of the first Test against South Africa at the Kia Oval was an emotional achievement for several reasons. It came only three days after Cook had attended the funeral of his former shoolboy opening partner David Randall, who died aged just 27 from cancer.

Cook was also moving level with his Essex mentor and England batting coach Graham Gooch, among others, in joint-fifth in his country’s all-time list of prolific Test centurions.

It was an especially gratifying moment too, when he pushed Imran Tahir for a single to cover to move to three figures, because Cook has twice fallen just six runs short of a hundred since he made a career-best 294 at Edgbaston almost a year ago. He shared a second-wicket stand of 170 with Jonathan Trott (71) in a stumps total of 267 for three.

“It was very satisfying,” he said of his chanceless 222-ball century.

“When you come so close a few times - I think it’s been a year since my last Test hundred - it makes it a very special moment.”