We lost the match in first innings: Cook
Ahmedabad, Nov 19: There’s a sense of humility about Alastair Cook that endears you to him. And then when you watch him bat, you know his personality reflects in the way he scores his runs. His 176-run knock in the first Test against India, was a cricketing description of what Cook is as a person – calm yet determined, humble yet competitive and not the least, a leader who believes in doing, not talking.
With his marathon knock, of more than nine hours, Cook became the only captain in Test cricket history to score centuries in his first three Tests at the helm. While his more aesthetically and skill-wise gifted batsmen departed in a hurry, Cook forged a fight back that saved his team from the ignominy of an innings defeat. He, however, could not avoid the eventual nine-wicket loss. And that mattered to him more than the runs he scored. “When you go to bed after scoring a big hundred, you do smile and you can be proud. But I’d be even more proud if I had survived today and dragged a draw out of it,” Cook said.
“I’m very happy with the way I batted. To score any hundred for England is special but to score one in that situation made it even better for me. But at the end of the day it’s the result that really matters and we weren’t good enough throughout the five days to win,” the England captain explained his mixed feelings.
The Cook-inspired 406 runs in the second innings couldn’t make up for the 191-run surrender in the first. And the England captain admitted the fight back came perhaps too late to change the result of the match.
“We showed a lot of character in the second half of the game, but getting bowled out for 191 in the first innings on a good wicket, that’s pretty much where we lost the game.
“I thought it was a regular cricket wicket. It offered a bit to the spinners but if the batsmen applied themselves, they could score big runs. The second innings showed that we can score runs against this attack. We’ve just got to do it in both innings to give ourselves a chance of winning the game,” he said.
While the Indian spinners made the most of whatever assistance they got from the second and third day track, what hurt England more was the indiscretion showed by some of their best batsmen of spin bowling. The shots Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen played to get out impacted their team’s overall total in the first innings. Cook hoped this failure was an aberration.
“If we are to win this series, we need everyone to contribute, there’s no doubt about that. The guys who haven’t performed in this match will be very disappointed. But we have very good batsmen in that dressing room who have scored runs against every attack in the world but couldn’t do it in this game. I’m sure they will know what they need to do,” Cook said.
Apart from the first innings batting failure, what also caused England’s downfall was the ineffectiveness of their fast bowlers. James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad returned with combined figures of 1 for 245 in 78 overs. Cook realised in hindsight, they had left the lone spinner, Greama Swann with too much work to do.
“We’ve clearly have to look at our selection. There are some good people making the decisions in this team and we thought we were doing the right thing but the result shows that we might have got it wrong.”
In the end, when Cook was asked whether this was his best Test innings, it caught the 27-year-old in two minds. “Technically it may have been the best innings, but it’s not very satisfying to score big runs in a losing cause. I made 235 (not out) in Brisbane (in November 2010) in similar circumstances. That was probably a better innings because we managed to draw the game.”