Cook showed others how it is done: Gooch
Ahmedabad, Nov 18: When you’re looking for a batting mentor to help you succeed in conditions and against opposition that requires a lot of patience conquering, they don’t come better than Graham Gooch. An English Test stalwart and a first-class legend, Gooch does have the wherewithal of batting.
Single-mindedness and determination were virtues that defined this former England captain. And to his utter delight his latest successor, Alastair Cook, is in the middle of a knock that oozes these very qualities. His team reeling under the wheel of the follow-on imposed by the Indian spinners, Cook stood up gallantly to take up the challenge right on the chin, or rather, in this case, the shin. His marathon knock of 168 and counting, has given a boost to the England change room that was, just a day ago, dreading an innings defeat in the first Test against India.
Gooch, England’s batting coach, no wonder, had the choicest words of praise for the captain of the team in his exclusive chat with bcci.tv shortly after the stumps were drawn on Day 4. He also spoke about the failures of Ian Bell and the drought of runs with Kevin Pietersen.
The turnaround from 191 all-out to 340 for 5 must make you a proud batting coach.
In our dressing room we’re feeling a little bit better than last night, that’s for sure. There’s still a lot of cricket to go, though. We still have a whole day to bat and we’re only a few runs in credit. India are still in a strong position but I think as a team we showed today what we are capable of. There was a lot of fight, commitment and skill from our batsmen. For us to get anything out of this game, we have to do the same tomorrow.
Was there anything said or done between the first and the second innings that brought about such vast change in approach?
In cricket and in team sports in general, there is a lot of things said in the team meetings but it doesn’t always work. But all our guys have played a lot of cricket and they knew exactly what was necessary today. They knew how they needed to change their approach. Alastair Cook set a great example of how one must play on this sort of wicket.
What was that one aspect of Cook’s knock that impressed you the most?
Sometimes, you have to adapt your batting and your mindset according to the situation. Alastair is a player who has always valued his wicket dearly. He crafted his knock today. He played the game that he plays – he was resolute in defence and put the bad balls away with the shots that he knows he plays well. He stuck to his strengths and utilised them perfectly. He’s got a fantastic temperament and a very calm mind. In this knock, he displayed the most important skill that’s needed to score big runs – immense concentration.
What do you make of Ian Bell’s performance in this Test?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him technically. He made a big error in judgement in the first innings. It was a very high-risk shot and it failed. He knows he made a mistake. Any player who has played the game for so long as he has, makes mistakes. I thought he played pretty well in the second innings for his 22. Before he got out lbw, he showed what a skilful player he is. He won’t be playing the next match because he’s going home for the birth of his first child and we wish him well for that. We hope that when he comes back to the team, he comes with regained confidence and form.
A lot has been said about Kevin Pietersen’s struggle against the left-arm spinners. What’s your take on it?
There’s always a lot of things being said about Kevin Pietersen, isn’t it? But no, I think since the time Kevin has come back into the team, he’s been brilliant in the dressing room and has been a positive influence. He didn’t score runs in this match and he wouldn’t be happy with the way he played here. But I’m confident about his ability; he’s a world-class player who works hard on his game. I know he will be able to turn things around and make things right as the tour goes on. Generally, good players find a way of scoring the runs. He got a brilliant hundred back in Colombo in March-April time and he is capable of scoring runs in these subcontinent conditions. I’m sure he’ll be working towards that next match.