London: England coach Andy Flower has hailed the progress of the side under one-day skipper Alastair Cook as they prepare for series against Test table-toppers and 50-over world champions India.
Cook, not even in England`s side when they suffered a 10-wicket World Cup quarter-final thrashing by Sri Lanka earlier this year, marked his first series as permanent one-day captain with 298 runs at 74.50 and a strike rate of 96.75 in a 3-2 series win over the islanders wrapped up last weekend.
That followed England`s 1-0 Test campaign triumph against Sri Lanka and was the best possible counter to those who, like ex-England captain Michael Atherton believed Cook, now one of the world`s leading Test batsmen, to be a "plodder" in the shorter format.
Flower, who saw Cook come through the ranks at Essex and was himself a world-class left-handed batsman while representing Zimbabwe, was delighted with both the progress of England and his limited overs skipper.
"It was a very good test," he said after England`s 16-run series-clinching win at Old Trafford last weekend.
"They are a very good one-day side, World Cup finalists recently, and three of the five tracks weren`t ideal English conditions -- so I think we`ve done very well to win."
Flower, turning to Cook, added: "He had some tricky decisions to make throughout the series, and he was under pressure from a number of quarters.”
"I thought he handled that pressure really well, and made some really good decisions out there in this last match.”
"He had to be very flexible, and he was."
Cook deputised as both Test and one-day captain when Andrew Strauss, still the Test skipper, opted out of last year`s tour of Bangladesh and Flower said: "We saw him handle pressure well there too, which isn`t an easy tour.
"He grew there as a leader, and without doubt this series will have helped him grow too.”
"(England batting coach) Graham Gooch has worked very closely with him on his batting for a long time -- because obviously one-day cricket is very different to Test cricket.”
"I think he`s adapted well.”
"It might not look as pretty as a (Mahela) Jayawardene, but it`s been even more effective during this series.”
"He should feel very proud of his contribution with the bat, and how he`s handled some of the pressure he`s been under."
Cook and England return to Test cricket with the first of a four-match series against India starting at Lord`s on July 21.