We’re desperate to win this series: Cook
Nagpur, Dec 12: In any profession it requires a lot of hard work and perseverance to get to the top. And if there’s anything more difficult to achieve, it is sustaining the hunger and the determination to stay there. In sports, that desperation to be the best is what separates the great men from the good ones.
So, even if it might come as thus to many in the cricketing world, England’s total dominance over India in their own backyard in the last two Test matches, is not a surprise. At least that’s what their new captain, Alastair Cook’s words all through the series imply.
Right since they surrendered the first Test to the hosts, the England captain’s interaction with the media has been along the lines of ‘working hard in the nets and implementing what’s learnt, in the field’ and ‘doing the same things over and over again’. And while Cook’s cliché-ridden press conferences might not make for interesting stories for the scribes, they just highlight the singular focus on his and his team’s part.
No wonder then, that when asked if England’s dramatic turnaround in the series from being underdogs to favourites has come as a surprise for him, Cook answered in the negative. “I said earlier that if we play close to our potential, we can win. And what we have done in the last three Tests hasn’t surprised me as such but has pleased me,” he said ahead of the fourth and the final Test at Nagpur.
England have not won a Test series in India since 1985. And with an invincible 2-1 lead, Nagpur is their best ever chance to change that. Cook knows it. “We desperately want to win this series and now we’ve got an opportunity to do that.”
However, he also knows that being overawed by the enormity of the occasion will only lead to distraction and potentially, a defeat.
“Everyone knows how important and big this game is. But as a player you’ve got to take that emotion out of it. You can use it as a build-up, but when you’re out there you’ve got to be fully focused on your job and the state of the game.
“The ideal way is to be as calm as you can and not let the situation dictate how you play. We’ve just got to continue walking on the same path. We know how hard we’ve worked in the last few weeks and we’ve got to take that into the game,” Cook said.
Cook insisted that the position of power that his team finds itself in at this stage of the series is an outcome of sheer hard work. “I don’t think it’s been easy because there’s a lot of skill and hard work that’s gone into it. Whatever 11 we field tomorrow, we’re going to go in with the same guts and determination that we’ve shown in the last two games,” Cook promised.
The city of Nagpur also brings some personal memories for Cook. It was the city in which he became a Test cricketer, on March 1, 2006. It has been a long journey for him and yet the time seems to have flashed by. “It feels a long time ago that I made my debut and still everything has gone very quickly.”
Although the feel of the place takes him back to 2006, Cook won’t be able to indulge in nostalgia when he sets his foot at the newly-built VCA Stadium for the Test match. His debut match was played at the old stadium. But while Cook holds on to the memories of the venue on which he played his first Test for England, he is hopeful of taking back happier memories from the new ground.
“It’s a shame in one way that we’re not playing in that stadium. Having said that, the facilities here are incredible. The facilities at the nets practice are as good as the ones I’ve played anywhere in the world. This is a fantastic stadium but for me the old one has a lot of sentimental value. Hopefully at the end of these five days this one will be special too,” Cook concluded.