Chef ‘Cook’ing – 7000 and counting
Time and again in Cricket, history has shown that few gentlemen just love to get into the zone against the very same opponents. And when that opponent is India, the likes of Ponting, Anwar, Chanderpaul, Hayden, Amla are the ones who zip right through the mind, who have ripped apart the Indian bowling. Yet to the dismay of the Indians, but much to the delight of the cricket lovers, another masterful stroke player has joined that coveted list, the England southpaw Alastair Nathan Cook.
Cook’s love for India started when he was called on to the national team as a last minute replacement for Marcus Trescothick during India’s tour in 2006. And with beginner’s luck on his side, he pounced upon the opportunity debuting with a century in his first test at Nagpur. Within no time, the flurry of runs earned him the nickname of ‘The run-machine’ for England in the cricketing circles.
The journey from his first Test hundred at Nagpur to his twenty third Test century at Eden has been an enthralling one. With this ton, he became England’s leading scorer of hundreds in Test match history. Another record followed when he progressed to become the youngest man to reach 7000 Test runs in the world, eclipsing the master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar.
The cool customer that Cook’s always been, the added responsibility to lead his side has elevated his batting performance. Five centuries in his first five Tests as a captain, another record to his name, shows that he has been thoroughly enjoying his captaincy. With three centuries to his name already in the current series, the southpaw seems to be in an immaculate run of form, providing the much needed cushion for England from the much media hyped ‘revenge series’.
Here’s an analysis of Cook’s record breaking 23rd ton. The start to his innings was a bit edgy. The Aussies had exploited Cook’s vulnerability outside the off-stump in the Ashes successfully. The Indian bowlers did try the same. Early in the innings, Zaheer Khan was nearly contemplating celebration when Cook was dropped in the slips by Pujara, much to his dismay. Thereafter, Cook remained largely unperturbed throughout his unbeaten innings smashing the balls through the offside, playing the lofted shots, the elegant cover drives and the frequent lazy sweeps to the spinners. Turner or no turner, Cook seemed to be making the most of what the doctored pitch had to offer, with his poised technique and cool temperament. The three runs off a fine sweep to Ashwin, towards the long boundary led to his record breaking hundred. A mischievous wink was offered to his team-mates in the dressing room, before receiving a thunderous applause from the crowds.
The reaction of the Eden crowd after Cook reached his 23rd test century resembled that of Chepauk, with every soul in the stands lauding the fine hundred they had just witnessed. The energetic crowds would have hoped for altogether a different ball game but they were truly mesmerized by the artistic display of Cook and got their every penny worth. With the long forward strides to his excellent use of the feet against the spinners, the beautiful flow of the bat to the sweet sound of the willow, he would likely put an artist to shame.
India is known for its spices, and the frailties of the Indian bowlers are providing the perfect spices to Chef Cook and the English folks are relishing it.