Cook’s steely focus reaps its Ashes rewards

Adelaide: Alastair Cook is proving to be the marathon man for England in the Ashes series with his herculean batting performances and he puts it down to being able to concentrate for long periods.

The opener batted throughout the second day of the second Adelaide Test in stifling heat today, scoring an unbeaten 136 to add to his record-breaking 235 in the second innings of the first Test in Brisbane.

The Essex left-hander has shown amazing powers of endurance, spending all but 11 overs of the first seven days of the series on the field as he torments Australia’s bowlers.

The Australians must be tiring of the sight of Cook, who has now amassed 438 runs in three innings in this series for only one dismissal.

“The art of batting is concentrating for long periods of time and not making mistakes and you have to keep reminding yourself of that when you are batting,” Cook said.

“When you get into this rhythm of batting it’s trying to do everything similar and not try to break that rhythm. Focus on what’s ahead and what’s not gone.”

Cook has now scored 15 Test centuries, three of them against Australia, but his place was under threat after the home series against Bangladesh and Pakistan earlier this year and he admitted the criticism was justified.

“I think I scored 100 runs in seven knocks so you guys (the media) wouldn’t be doing your job in not criticising me. That’s part and parcel of playing professional sport,” he said.

A knock of 110 against Pakistan at the Oval helped him hold onto his spot in the side and he said the innings had given him belief he could bat well in tough situations.

“How I dealt with it, by responding at The Oval has given me a lot of confidence that when I really needed it most, I could deliver it,” he said.

“Coming to Australia when the side needed it most I’ve managed to deliver so far.”

All of Cook’s centuries have come before the age of 26, a record only bettered by Sachin Tendulkar of India, who reached three figures 19 times before his 26th birthday.

“It’s just rewards some times. You put in all the hard yards and then you get your little rewards which I’ve had this week,” Cook said.

“It’s important to enjoy them when you get them but remember there’s a lot of hard work ahead in this game and other games.”

Cook said batting was hard work in Saturday’s 37 Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) temperatures, but he was in no mood to be charitable to the Australian bowlers as they toiled away with little reward in the stifling heat.

“At tea I was quite tired,” he said. “At 37 degrees it’s up there with one of the hottest days I’ve played cricket in, but you have to cash in when you’re in this kind of form and don’t give it away.

“There’s no chance of me doing that and it was quite hard physically after what happened last week in Brisbane.

“I’m lucky as I don’t sweat that much and I only wore one pair of gloves today.”

Bureau Report

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