Responsibilities as captain make Cook stronger
Landing in the Indian sub-continent in the first week of November, for what was perceived to be a month-long struggle, the Alastair Cook-led English team looked like a bunch of amateur swimmers who had just been assigned the task of swimming past the Indian Ocean.
A dip in form and a Test series loss at home against South Africa — one that led to them losing the No. 1 Test ranking – didn’t do their confidence any good. And with a poor record in sub-continent conditions, the team seemed to be in a state of denial regarding their problems in dealing with spin bowling.
But a month and 14 days down the line, how things have change. The magnitude of it, travelling across the western and eastern topography of the country. Captain Cook and his men finally stamped their authority in the sub-continent right in the geographical centre-point of India. What was earlier being touted as an embarrassment in the waiting, eventually turned out to be a triumph that they can thump their chest about and can tell their coming generations.
A unit that went into the battle ground with minimum chances of survival came out trumps, leaving the home team shocked, surprised and the local public gutted and disappointed, amply led by their newly assigned leader who saw the awaiting adversity as his opportunity and showed everyone what he is made of.
The amazing turn around in the fortunes of the English in the last one month can be duly attributed to their captain Alastair Cook, for it was his perseverance that stood out from the rest and whose grit egged his colleagues on to bring out their best. Even as England were predictably falling apart in the first Test match in Ahmedabad, Cook looked the embodiment of pure resilience. A hard-fought innings of 176 runs in the second innings may not have helped him save the match, but it surely had an impact on the rest of the team. It was a knock quiet reminiscent of Sourav Ganguly’s tigerish 144 against Australia back in 2003 in Brisbane, scored against the backdrop of the team being put under intense scrutiny by the local media and the team eventually struggling to find its feat in the first innings. That knock was a package of pure determination that eventually paved the way for a dream Test series Down Under.
And as this Test series went on, buoyed by Cook’s determination to hold fort, the rest of the team too began to find their feet, eventually overcoming their jitters of dealing with spinners and turning the tables. If nothing else, this series has shown us another dimension in Cook’s cricket. It suggests that he enjoys his task of leading his country. That he knows how to lead by example and raises his own game with additional responsibilities. So far as a captain, he has led England 6 times and scored centuries in 5 of them. A record that some of the most successful captains in the history of the game would be envious of.
With the departure of Andrew Strauss, a very successful and well respected England captain, the pressure was very much on Cook to uphold the faith that the ECB had shown in him. Well, as far as the beginning is concerned, he has done quite well. Be it his ability to lead from the front or his tactical efficiency which was pretty much evident during the Test series, Cook has definitely ringed the bell of the good times to come for English cricket. But then, this too would be too early to take a call on how further and how long will he be able to continue his good form as a captain.
The man surely has shown the potential to be one of the very best, it just needs to be seen for what length of time can he endure the burden of responsibilities. If the Test series against India has shown us the kind of metal he is made of, the future will tell how tough that metal is.