Zee Media Bureau/Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: Alastair Cook managed a weary 22 runs with the bat in the second innings of the Lord`s Test match. For a moment while getting into double figures, he must have hoped that this was the beginning of a big score. But it was Ishant Sharma who got the England skipper poke at a delivery and offer a straight catch to his counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
A shake of the head, a growing disparity and a long walk back to the pavilion summed up yet another failure. For Cook personally it has been a torrid time with the willow and he badly needs a Test match win. England are on the verge of losing against India on the fifth day at Lord`s and would then trail the visitors 1-0 in the 5-match series.
It was only the second time in the last 10 innings Cook managed to score more than 20 runs in Test cricket. It is contrasting figures for a batsman of his calibre who made merry against the Indians in 2012 in India. Cook had notched three back to back tons and guided his side to a famous 3-1 series victory. After the dip in his form on Australian soil in the Ashes series earlier this year, Cook has failed to rise up. He had a forgettable series against Sri Lanka at home and now it`s against a young Indian side where his woes as a batsman continue.
And then there is another problem - it`s about winning a Test match. It has been an agonising eight Test-match run where Cook has not been able to lead his side to a victory. If they fail at Lord`s on Monday it goes up to nine.
Cook`s captaincy and his batting has been widely criticised from all corners. Despite the backing of the English think tank who are eager to continue with him, the wearied knock of 22 will ring alarm bells in their ears. But what is the solution?
This series is a big test for Cook both as skipper and as a batsman. In the batting perspective he may want to take a sabbatical for sometime and get back the rhythm that can see him score many more runs. If he is dropped as a skipper, the choices England have are Ian Bell and Stuart Broad. Bell himself is in desperate need of runs and confidence. Broad then has to take the baton. But will that work? Or will Cook come out as a magician and score big and help England win the Test series against India?
For the moment the English side and the ECB have a lot to chew upon and in the light of events Cook leads the thought of everybody, on and off the field!