Archive for November, 2012
The potential for Alastair Cook to become Test cricket’s greatest ever player was on full show during the second Test against India last week, when the captain put on a leader’s display to hit a joint-record 22nd century in the England whites.
Cook totalled a pace-setting 122 in the tourists’ first innings to put England in complete control against a resurgent India, turning the England Cricket Betting markets on its head in the process. The right-hander was cool, composed and, most importantly, an example for others to follow as he passed his century to equal a record held by Wally Hammond between 1927-47.
So solid was his performance that Pietersen, who also notched his 22nd Test century for his country, recently suggested his captain could become the greatest ever England batsman.
“Alastair Cook will comfortably surpass any hundred [total] that anybody else who plays for England [gets],” Pietersen told BBC Sport.
“He should go on to score thousands and thousands more runs. He’s only 27. He’s a young pup; he is fit. He has a great head. He is very calm and nobody should beat him.”
Indeed, Pietersen’s admission of Cook’s age appears to be the deciding factor that will see the captain rise above his number four batsman. For at 27-years-old Cook still has the best part of his career ahead of him and with the England captaincy is guaranteed to maintain his level of performance.
As he said in his latest Betfair Michael Vaughan column, former England captain Vaughan says Cook has the ability and time to develop into a cricketing great and rival legends such as Ricky Ponting, who holds the Australian’s one-hundreds record of 41 from 167 Tests.
Ponting started his Test career 17 years ago and is still battling for a place in the Australian top order, meaning Cook realistically has a decade to double his century tally. The opener has age, experience and class on his side and, buoyed by a record-breaking century this winter, will be key to England’s success for years to come.
England’s potential to make a successful recovery from their opening-match Test defeat to India last week lies in the most part to their bowling attack, according to former batsman Geoffrey Boycott.
Boycott spoke to BBC 5Live on Monday, a day after England’s three seamers proved ineffectual as the team fell to a nine-wicket loss, and revealed his views on where England went wrong.
“I don’t think we stood a chance of actually bowling India out,” Boycott said. “[India’s] two spinners took 13 of their wickets and they won, it’s as simple as that.
“It’s extremely rare to get a pitch that helps seamers in India. I’ve seen one at the Jubilee Test on 1980: Ian Botham got 10 wickets and we won.”
Boycott couldn’t be more correct in his denouncement of England’s seamers, who struggled terribly over the first Test: James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan mustering a pitiful one wicket from 72 overs. Something needs to change before the second Test in Mumbai later this week and Boycott advocates mirroring the opposition.
The former opener suggests dropping a fast bowler in place of another spinner to play alongside Graeme Swann: the only effectual threat in England’s arsenal with nine wickets in the first Test. Yet Swann cannot do it on his own and there are loud calls in England cricket betting markets for the reinstatement of Monty Panesar.
Now, Panesar has proven his ability to turn the ball for England and is seen as the obvious replacement for a seamer. However, he is out of international form and doesn’t have that batting ability that Anderson, Broad and Bresnan provide.
Captain Alastair Cook therefore has a difficult choice to make. None of the seamers impressed in the first Test and all are under threat of losing their place, but with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow also available for cover, Cook has plenty of choice to make before they attempt to defy the England Cricket Betting in Mumbai.
Nick Compton did his case for a place in the England Test side no harm with a well-crafted half-century in the warm-up clash against Mumbai A. Compton is vying for a place in the Test side against Yorkshire opener Joe Root, and it was Somerset star who stood out in the second warm-up match of England’s tour of India.
The batsman is battling it out to fill the opener position left vacant following the retirement of Andrew Strauss, and a calm 64 against Mumbai may have convinced the selectors to hand Compton the chance in the opening Test in Ahmedabad.
Root made solid live scores of 28 and 24 in his two innings, but Compton showed he has the patience needed to make a score on a turning Indian pitch, recovering from a first innings duck to make a valuable 64 in the second innings.
“As a squad everyone is trying to vie for that place and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have an eye on that opening spot and take a bit of confidence from getting the nod in the first game,” the South African-born batsman admitted after the match.
“So obviously that probably was pretty disappointing not to have taken that initial chance. This innings was just nice to kick on and probably get a score that I did desperately need.”
Compton’s experience may prove the deciding factor which sees him get the nod over youngster Root, though the online gambling is struggling to separate them.
Whoever gets picked the pressure will be on to get his international career off to a running start in some of the toughest Test match conditions in the game.
Replacing Strauss will be a really tough ask for any batsman, it remains to be seen whether Compton is the one.
England’s upcoming Test series in India is likely to set the tone of Alastair Cook’s captaincy and is vitally important for regaining team confidence after a tumultuous summer.
Cook’s side are outsiders in the Betfair Cricket Betting for the upcoming tour and he knows he needs solid performances from his tried-and-tested key members, such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell, if he is going to take a series victory on the subcontinent.
Yet there is one name that could also make a real difference to the squad, and it isn’t necessarily Kevin Pietersen.
All-rounder Samit Patel proved his worth in England’s warm-up match with India A recently, scoring a ton as his side limped to a three-day draw. Patel’s magnificent 104 from sixth man was Pietersen-esque and throws a real spanner in Cook’s works as to who will bat for England this winter.
Patel was impervious with the bat, resuming on 82 to share a 169 stand with Cook before the opener fell. His 65-run partnership with next-man Matt Prior was also a joy to behold as Patel handled the Mumbai wicket with ease.
In his latest Michael Vaughan previews column, the former England skipper highlighted that what could make the 27-year-old so valuable to Cook’s plans is his availability as a spinner.
England will tour on the trickiest wickets in the world this winter and Patel’s left-arm deliveries could cause a problem in the Indian middle order. If he is included in Cook’s side he will ideally bowl very little – leaving spinning duties to Graeme Swann. However, a four-match test series is not something to take for granted and Cook will hope Patel and/or Pietersen can provide respite for his main bowling attack when required.
Patel, like Pietersen, has proven he can turn the ball and although it will be difficult to force his way into Cook’s middle order, he has the potential to cause a stir when England begin their tour this month.