Posts filed under ‘Cook’
On the face of it, England have played it exactly right so far during the second Test against New Zealand.
With the Black Caps on 158-6 at the close, England – in theory – have three seasons to take four wickets on the final day and seal a 2-0 victory.
I say in theory, because the weather forecast on Tuesday is dreadful, with a washout like we saw on day one a real possibility, meaning Michael Vaughan’s prediction of a draw will come true.
If that is the case then England will still win the series, but they should have wrapped this game up much earlier.
On Sunday evening Jonathan Trott brought the innings almost to a standstill, scoring 11 of 69 balls. He is known for digging in and not being rushed into silly strokes – something that makes him a safe Ashes bet. But he showed on Monday morning that he is capable of scoring quickly. – his caution cost England crucial time.
There was then the puzzling decision to bat on well into the afternoon session. England eventually declared on 468 – meaning New Zealand would have to break the world record if they were to win. But this is a batting attack that crumbled for jut 68 only a week ago, was pushing beyond 400 really necessary?
It then wasn’t even as if Cook set ultra attacking fields, with some men posted out on the boundary, as if New Zealand only had 200 to chase down.
In being cautious England have ensured they won’t lose, but they may well have ensured they won’t win either. Andy Flower and co. will say they have still won the series, but if they want to become the best team in the world, they need to develop a ruthless streak. England should have gone for the kill on Sunday evening, setting up an early declaration on Monday.
Instead they will be looking to the heavens, hoping for a spell of dry weather on the final day that will give them enough time to finish the tourists off. And even if they do, questions will still be asked about England’s excessively cautious tactics.
The plaudits Alastair Cook has received after effectively winning England their second Test match in India at the weekend are completely justified. The captain not only captured a record 23rd England Test century at Eden Gardens but orchestrated a scintillating 122 in the second Test in Mumbai.
Cook as been resplendent in England whites this tour and suggestions from batting coach Graham Gooch that he could go on better Sachin Tendulkar come as no surprise.
“Potentially [Cook] could go onto that sort of level,” Gooch told BBC Sport. “I don’t think he’s reached his peak.
“He’s got a good game at the moment and the application of that game has been exceptional in the last two matches.”
Indeed, Gooch is right to place Cook in the same league as Tendulkar after the England captain’s impervious recent form. He notched up his fourth Test century of 2012, adding to the four earned last year. In the 2010/11 Ashes series alone he averaged 127 and became the youngest player to make 7,000 career runs at the age of just 27.
Although the humble Cook won’t admit it, he must be eyeing up Tendulkar’s record of 15,643 Test runs and 51 hundreds. Tendulkar has been the figurehead of Indian cricket for two decades and will always be remembered as a true great; although suffering a poor 2012 he hit 76 against England at Eden Gardens to confirm that, at 39, there’s still life in those arms.
The target for Cook is clear. He is just under halfway to Tendulkar’s runs total and needs to double his centuries to even come close to that record. En route he must pass Ricky Ponting, Australia’s greatest ever batsman with +13,000 runs himself.
To place Cook in such an elite band of players may be seen by some as a bold move, but there is no reason to believe Cook won’t become a cricketing legend when he retires in 10 years time.
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.
England Test captain, Alastair Cook, insists that Kevin Pietersen is focused on playing well for England. Cook – and, indeed, fans of cricket test betting – is desperate to put the long-running saga to bed before his team kick-off the gruelling tour of India next month.
Pietersen’s exclusion following his rouge text messages brought to the surface a number of simmering issues that perhaps needed to be dealt with sooner or later and, although there has been a lot of upheaval, English cricket may be better off for it.
For starters, they can welcome back into their side one of the world’s most destructive batsmen. England are a weaker side without Kevin Pietersen, though the ECB’s tough stance throughout sent out a strong message to KP that he was not going to receive any special treatment just because of his ability.
To be fair to the 32-year-old, who has a reputation for having a precious ego, he appears to have been genuine remorseful for what has gone on and had done everything asked of him in order to the issues to be resolved.
There will, of course, be huge focus on him when he next takes to the field in an England short, but if he can start writing headlines for the right reasons, the drama of late summer may quickly be forgotten.
“It’s been a difficult two months for us, but as captain the best possible outcome is that we have a world-class player back in the team,” said Cook. “Kevin is very contrite and desperate to be back playing and scoring runs for England. As captain that’s all I want.”
Elsewhere on the cricket calendar, Australia are lining up to play their rivals in the South Hemisphere, South Africa. View the South Africa test odds before placing your bets to ensure that your gamble gets off on the right foot.
Date: 11-15 December Start: 4:00am
Live coverage: Skysports1 (TV), BBC Radio four (LW Radio)
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India win by 6 wickets
England 316 all out
Strauss 123 (233 balls, 15 fours) Mishra 34 – 6 – 99 – 3
Cook 52 (116 balls, 5 fours) Harbijan 38 – 2 – 96 – 3
Prior 53* (102 balls, 1 four)
India 241 all out
Dhoni 53 (82 balls, 5 fours) Flintoff 18.4 – 2 – 49 – 3
Harbijan 40 (58 balls, 7 fours) Panesar 19 – 4 – 65 – 3
England 311-9 (declared)
Strauss 108 (244 balls, 8 fours) Zaheer 27 – 7 – 40 – 3
Collingwood 108 (250, 9 fours) Sharma 22.5 – 1 – 57 – 3
India 387 – 4
Tendulkar 103 (196 balls, 9 fours) Swann 28.3 – 2 – 103 – 2
Yuvraj 85 (131 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) Flintoff 22 – 1 – 64 – 1
Sehwag 83 (68 balls, 11 fours, 4 sixes)
Man of the match: Virenda Sehwag
Full scorecard can be found here
Alistair Cook has been a regular squad member of the England one-day international squad since his debut on June 2006 against Sri Lanka. Recently he has attracted criticism from those who believe he is too slow for International one-day cricket and doesn’t warrant his position in the team. The argument that he is too slow for International cricket is a far one; a strike rate of just 68.07 just doesn’t exist in current ODI cricket.