Over the last few years, English cricket’s success all across the world has revolved heavily around Alastair Cook. Whether it was the Ashes tour of 2010-11 where he amassed 766 runs off just seven innings, or his first tour to India as a skipper where he slammed centuries in all the three Tests, Cook has brought several laurels for England with some astonishing innings.
Cook has had just seven to eight bad months, where things haven’t gone in his favour. That too, it isn’t that his personal form has been pathetic, it’s just that England have failed to achieve, what they did convincingly 12 months ago, as a team.
The highlight of Cook’s struggle of late, has been the 5-0 annihilation at the hands of the Aussies, in a series where Mitchell Johnson seemed to take a wicket off almost every delivery. Cook was lucky to be retained as the skipper after several established names including Kevin Pietersen and Andy Flower had to bear the wrath. But England’s recent loss to Sri Lanka on home soil has further fanned the flames of Cook’s criticism.
These are testing times for Cook and he has rightly received massive support from the ECB and the coach. England coach Peter Moores had recently said that he still believes Cook is the right man to lead England and the left-hander too is willing to continue doing so.
When a skipper is down, it is extremely unfortunate to see his team not doing well too. Cook was the man who single-handedly boosted the morale of his boys by playing gutsy knocks on Indian soil in 2012. His century in the first Test went in vain as India won the Test but he followed it with two more tons in the next two Tests as England came back to win the series 2-1. Irrespective of the form of the other players, Cook made sure to lead from the front, setting examples every now and then.
Even in the return Ashes, Cook scored three half-centuries but then that’s the problem when you have set the standards high by becoming England’s run-machine over the years.
And the pressure has definitely increased on Cook after Sri Lanka won a Test series on English soil in 20 years. He was criticized for his tactics at Headingley and a poor run from the bat didn’t help his cause either.
But then, the five-match Test series against India could once again revive Cook’s fortunes. The left-hander, who made his Test debut against India, immediately announced himself at the big stage with a century. His highest score in Tests – 294 – too came against India. It could be the make or break series for him as the voices against him are increasing with each failure.
Cook has gone 24 innings without scoring a century. But he enjoys batting against India and it is evident from the fact that he has scored 1437 runs from 15 Tests, and has hit five centuries. His willow becomes a machine when he bats against India and MS Dhoni would be totally aware of it. The forthcoming tour could be another example. But till then, England need to back their prized possession.