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Sportsmail’s LAWRENCE BOOTH picks five of the best England centuries he’s ever seen

Jonny Bairstow shot a sensational 136 from 92 deliveries to propel England to a stunning second Test win against New Zealand at Trent Bridge.

It’s a knock that’s already heralded as one of the very best Test ages of all time, but where exactly does it stand next to some of the other classics in England’s history?

Sportsmail’s LAWRENCE BOOTH offers its review…

Ben Stokes 135* v Australia at Headingley in 2019

For sheer context and drama, this will take some setback.

England needed 76 more when No 11 Jack Leach joined Ben Stokes in the middle. One mistake, and Australia would keep the urn with two Tests to play. It was not easy to think about. Instead Stokes hit like a genius, hitting eight sixes to all corners of Headingley and brilliantly manipulating the attack.

Leach’s contribution to the partnership was one that didn’t materialize – a single that he still goes out to dinner with. He should have been knocked out by Nathan Lyon with just two needed, while Stokes would have dropped the next ball if Australian captain Tim Paine hadn’t used up all their assessments.

But moments later, Stokes knocked Pat Cummins through the covers and – after time seemed to stand still for a split second – a packed Headingley crowd jumped to their feet.

Ben Stokes and his undefeated 135 against Australia at Headingley will always take a beating

Ben Stokes and his undefeated 135 against Australia at Headingley will always take a beating

Kevin Pietersen 158 v Australia at The Oval in 2005

Over lunch on the final day of the 2005 Ashes, a nation held its breath.

England, who needed the win to win the urn for the first time since 1986-87, were 127 for five and led Australia with 133. Kevin Pietersen had already been dropped twice en route to 35, by Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne, but came out after lunch as if to catch a train.

He stopped at Brett Lee and finished with a scintillating 158, including 15 fours and seven sixes. With Ashley Giles contributing 59, England reached 335 – and the lads of ’05 entered folklore.

Kevin Pietersen's 158 against Australia at The Oval was the key to England's 2005 Super Ashes victory

Kevin Pietersen’s 158 against Australia at The Oval was the key to England’s 2005 Super Ashes victory

Jonny Bairstow 136 v New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 2022

England were 56 for three behind 299 when Jonny Bairstow went out to hit at Nottingham. Soon it was 93 to four.

But Bairstow came out after tea – ‘a cheese and ham toast and a coffee’ – and struck like mad, heeding his captain Ben Stokes’ advice to ‘get out in the stands’ and finish his innings. play life.

The next 11.3 overs produced 133 runs as Bairstow laced the spectators with seven sixes, giving Stokes the unusual role of second fiddle.

By the time he fell to 136 balls from 92 balls – after hitting 98 alone – England had broken the back of what proved their record chase at Trent Bridge.

Jonny Bairstow's century against New Zealand is immediately one of the all-time classics

Jonny Bairstow’s century against New Zealand is immediately one of the all-time classics

Kevin Pietersen 149 v South Africa at Headingley in 2012

Against a backdrop of infighting, Pietersen – who was central to the turmoil – scored a disdainful 149 from 214 against a world-class attack that included Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis.

He started hitting at 43, when Morkel went for the wicket – Wisden said it was ‘like he’d woken the Kraken’.

As he reached his century, he aimed his bat at his wife, Jessica, barely recognizing his teammates on the balcony.

After the match, which was a draw, he added to the drama by saying that it was ‘hard to be me in that dressing room’. Then came the suspension of Textgate and Pietersen.

But his work for the year was not yet done.

In 2012, Pietersen scored a stunning century against South Africa amid turmoil

In 2012, Pietersen scored a stunning century against South Africa amid turmoil

Kevin Pietersen 186 v India in Mumbai in 2012-13

This was Pietersen’s second Test back after his ‘reintegration’ into a team now led by Alastair Cook following the sacking of Andrew Strauss after a 2-0 defeat to the South Africans.

He had only scored 19 runs in the first Test, in Ahmedabad, which England lost hard.

Now on a twisty track at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, he ripped apart India’s spinners and added 206 for the third wicket with Cook.

Pietersen finished with a stunning 186 from 233 balls, putting England ready for a series-leveling victory. They won in India for the first time since 1984-85.

Pietersen's century in Mumbai was key as England first won in India 1984-85

Pietersen’s century in Mumbai was key as England first won in India 1984-85

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