Shamik Das

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oram hits century after McCullum scare

Jacob's Centuries: Fit for Lords

Lord's, first Test, fifth day: New Zealand 269/6 (Oram 101,
How 68) and 277 drew with England 319

JACOB ORAM survived five chances to hit his fifth Test century and lead New Zealand to safety as England drew their fifth Lord's Test in a row.

Oram came to the crease when first innings hero Brendon McCullum was struck on the elbow by Stuart Broad and forced off. New Zealand were effectively 78 for 5 with 65 overs remaining, and England scented blood.

The 6' 6" Manawatu all-rounder didn't take long to get going, though, launching Monty Panesar into the Warner stand early in his innings and continuing in the same carefree vein throughout.

England only had themselves to blame for failing to force home their advantage, James Anderson twice and Michael Vaughan fluffing run out chances and Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell failing to hold on to difficult catches.

By the time Oram eventually fell, bowled by Ryan Sidebottom with the second new ball, he and debutant Daniel Flynn had added 132 runs, taking New Zealand's lead to 210 with five wickets in hand and only 30 overs left. Job done.

In all Oram faced 121 balls, dominating the strike - Flynn only faced 89 balls in their partnership - and hit 15 fours and two sixes, the second a straight drive off Kevin Pietersen high into the Compton stand.

There was further good news for the tourists as McCullum strode out to the middle as Oram left to the applause of the few thousand spectators who made it to Lord's, back from hospital with nothing more than a bruised elbow.

He cracked three more boundaries to show there were no ill effects before Anderson caught the outside edge as he tried one too many; four balls later the umpires offered Flynn and Daniel Vettori the light and that was that.

Confident: A Jacob Oram cover-drive in the evening session  Giant strike: Oram slaps a Kevin Pietersen delivery into the pavillion  Relieved: Oram reaches his century  At last: Daniel Flynn helps Oram celebrate his first Lord's century

"It's the proudest moment of my career, and it surpasses anything I've done before," said Oram. "I rode my luck a bit, and there were only small periods of my innings where I felt in real control.

"Even scattered between the boundaries, there were some balls which snuck up on me, but I've battled through the tough times, and I've made some strides towards where I want to be in my game."

It was a richly deserved century for Oram, who spoke glowingly of his desire for Test success and not Twenty20 money on the eve of the match. "This is the tour you want to be on," he told Cricinfo magazine.

"The tradition, the heritage, everything about it. And to get on the honours board anywhere in the world, but especially at Lord's, is something you'll remember for the rest of your life.

"If you had a five-wicket haul or a hundred and had to retire the next day you'd probably still be fairly happy because you have achieved a very significant milestone."

For Vaughan, though, the weather ruined any chance of a result. "It's always difficult to force a result in Test match cricket when you lose 150 overs," he bemoaned.

"We bowled very well today and created opportunities, but the ball either went wide [of the fielders] or went fast, and we did drop a couple.

"To win on the day we were going to have to take all our chances and something special was going to have to happen, and we just didn't do that."

Complete first Test scorecard
Second Test: Friday 23rd - Tuesday 27th May (Old Trafford)


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