HomeCricketGritty Alastair Cook shines again after an inconsistent run...

Gritty Alastair Cook shines again after an inconsistent run of form

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England’s veteran southpaw Alastair Cook showed his survival instincts and grit against Pakistan in the first innings of the first Test at Lord’s. The 33-year-old opener came to life after not being in the form he would have liked in the previous two Test series.
What bodes well for England is the rise of Cook after an inconsistent patch of form. Against Australia and New Zealand, he looked uncomfortable and wretched at times.
A fighting 70 against the Asian giants when every other batsman collapsed, shows the resistance and power the player still has in his bag. It’s all about the mental battle and despite him looking a pale shadow of himself since that double ton in the 2017-18 Ashes, Cook showed he has it in him to offer England a lot atop.

Struggling Cook

Despite scoring two double-centuries in the past 12 months, including one against Australia in the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne, Cook was in tremendous pressure entering the series against Pakistan. His form in the majority of the Ashes was a low point that hurt the tourists badly in a 4-0 brushing off.
The issue with England in Test cricket over time has been the misfiring of England’s quartet of senior players. Cook played a significant part in it. The major let down for Cook was the tour of NZ. 23 runs in four innings with a best of 14 was a serious letdown. He struggled against Trent Boult time and time again. The issue against NZ was his foot movement against the moving ball.
His struggles were telling in Australia with six under-20 scores. After the series against NZ, there were reports stating he may be calling it quits.

Innings against Pak a breather

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Since his 243 against West Indies in August 2017, he managed to get 460 runs in nine Test matches. An unbeaten 244 against Australia was a part of it. One takes that out, Cook did not manage to hit a single fifty.
This inning was a must from Cook, given all the things that have been surrounding him.  The veteran top scored with 70 on as England collapsed to be all-out for 184 on Day One. Cook’s half-century should buy him some breathing space from selectors. Cook’s 148-ball innings was laced with 14 fours.
What was missing in New Zealand, this time Cook got it right. The feet were in the right places, the balance looked good and the face of the bat came down straight. The trade-mark cover drives were in place as well.

Gets praise from Border

The player, who has a lot of respect around the world has never been dropped from England’s Test squad since making his debut against India in 2006. The Englishman reached a new feat of 153 consecutive Tests on day one of the series opener against Pakistan at Lord’s. That saw him equal legendary Australia batsman Allan Border, who in turn heaped praise on.
Border stated that he has watched Cook’s progress over the years and lauded him for staying fit and be able to play that many consecutive games. Border feels Cook has many more years left in him as an international cricketer.

Cook will look to build from here on

The challenge for the former skipper is to now rediscover his consistency. He will need to build from here on especially with three more likely outings against Pakistan. If he gets to substantial scores, that gives him a lot of cushion going forward.
One wants to see Cook come out on top mentally and do away with the doubts that crept in. This innings will give him the desired confidence as the series progresses. The biggest aspect will be to win the trust of selectors and with Mark Stoneman not performing well, England will not go on to replace both openers. Stoneman is likely the one that could be dropped.

A vital asset against India?

England host India for a five-match Test series and that will be a huge test for Cook. The Indian pace bowlers have shown remarkable prowess against South Africa earlier this year after claiming 50 wickets in three Tests. With the ball swinging, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be raring to go against Cook.
That is where the battle lies. A productive series against Pakistan will bring belief in the England camp that he could be the asset atop and be a key figure in laying the foundation. With the middle-order struggling, Cook needs to come out strong. In the 2014 Test series against India, Cook amassed three half-centuries with a top score of 95 at Southampton.

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