Australia centurion Shane Watson was relieved to finally break his century drought, scoring 176 at The Oval on Wednesday, and then gave credit to England bowler Stuart Broad, of all people.
Centurion Shane Watson expressed gratitude for the bouncer that felled him on 91, after leading Australia to a formidable total of 307 for four on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.
Watson was struck behind the left ear by a vicious short delivery from England seamer Stuart Broad, but ultimately negated the pain to graduate to the his first century in 25 Tests in London on Wednesday.
The hard-hitting right-hander, who was promoted to three in the order after the left-handed Usman Khawaja was dropped, struck 25 boundaries and a solitary six en route to a career-best 176.
The vigil would have read considerably smaller, had host captain and slip fielder Alastair Cook not spilled a chance in the slips off the bowling of seamer James Anderson shortly after the Australian had reached three figures.
"A century is something I have searched for for a long time. Getting hit on the head helped me because it took my mind off getting through the 90s. It was a really good day. We knew batting first on this wicket after winning the toss it was going to be really important to try and put up a good day, so it's ended up nicely for us," said Watson.
"An important part of our success as a team has been to score big in the first innings. We know it's going to be more difficult batting in the second innings here, especially as it's going to get a little bit more up and down and turn a bit. So we know how important a first innings total is and hopefully we've got a few more runs in us on Thursday.
"I've been working very hard on my batting. Mentally, I've had to have a deep look at myself a number of times at where my batting's at. Even throughout this tour I've felt like I've been batting well, but just getting out lbw more than anything. So I've had to work very hard, source out the right people to give me the information to work exactly what's going to work for me. And it has worked out well in the end."
England debutants Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan, meanwhile, went without breakthrough – and conceded a hefty 105 runs in 23 overs between them. Spinner Kerrigan, after graduating to the international fold on the back of an impressive 47 wickets in 10 County Championship Division Two fixtures this season, was particularly expensive – copping 53 runs from his eight overs.
"I faced Simon Kerrigan in the tour match at Northampton last week and I knew what to expect. I've been up and down the order a bit, batted three quite a few times before. In the end, wherever the team needs me to bat, I'm happy to do it. I batted at six in the last Test match, but facing the new-ish ball is what I love doing so it's good fun," added Watson.
Middle-order batsman Steven Smith and nightwatchman Peter Siddle will resume on 66 not out and 18 not out respectively on Thursday.
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