Cook's special too spicy for India
CRICKET:Is there just ice in his veins? We are struggling for fresh superlatives for Alastair Cook, who just goes on and on. There was another century yesterday and as a consequence England are in charge in Kolkata. In reply to India’s 316 they were 216 for one at the end of the second day.
In the absence of any new adjectives let us catch up with the latest batch of records achieved by Cook.
When he leg-glanced Ravi Ashwin for three in the final session he had chalked up the most centuries – 23 – in Test cricket by any English batsman, gliding past some mighty names, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Kevin Pietersen. Remember Cook is only 27. He could easily play for another seven or eight years. Who knows how many more centuries he could deliver in that time? He could be in Tendulkar territory.
He also became the youngest man to score 7,000 Test runs, surpassing Tendulkar when he had reached 88 and now his Test average popped into the fifties. For good measure this was his fifth century in his fifth match as captain, which is also unparalleled. Yes, captaincy can have an impact on a batsman. It can make him or her better.
But what’s new? Not much. We know how he plays by now. However, he has expanded his range of shots a little on this tour. He never used to shimmy down the pitch and hit straight sixes. He did that once at Mumbai and again here. Moreover, he sweeps more regularly and vigorously against the spinners than he used to.
Most important of all, Cook has the clearest, most uncluttered mind in cricket.
Overnight: India 273-7 (S Tendulkar 76, G Gambhir 60).
INDIA First Innings
M S Dhoni c Swann b Finn 52
Z Khan lbw b Panesar 6
I Sharma b Panesar 0
P Ojha not out 0
Extras b5 lb13 w5 nb1 pens 0 24
Total (105 overs) 316
Bowling: Anderson 28 7 89 3; Finn 21 2 73 1; Panesar 40 13 90 4; Swann 16 3 46 1.
ENGLAND First Innings Close
A Cook not out 136
N Compton lbw b Ojha 57
I Trott not out 21
Extras nb2 pens 0 2
Total 1 wkt (73 overs) 216
To Bat: K Pietersen, I Bell, S Patel, M Prior, G Swann, M Panesar, J Anderson, S Finn.
Bowling: Khan 16 4 48 0 I; Sharma 15 6 35 0; Ashwin 23 4 68 0; Ojha 19 4 65 1.