This win’s on par with Ashes triumph: Cook
Alastair Cook came to India in the first week of November amid many apprehensions. He was about to lead England for the first time as their full-time Test captain and the team’s record here wasn’t that great. England batsmen were infamous for their ineptitude against spinners, a perception strengthened by their defeats against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
About a month and half from the day he landed here with his team, Cook has proved all the predictions and perceptions premature and false. He has led England to their first Test series win in India since David Gower’s team did it in 1984-85. To complete the fairytale, the new captain has led the way for his team, with 562 runs at 80.28, including three centuries.
After a draw in Nagpur sealed a 2-1 series win for England in the Anthony de Mello Trophy, Cook addressed the media and shared how it felt to create history.
Here are the excerpts from his interaction:
The winning feeling
It’s been an incredible tour and to end it convincingly like we did today was great. It was a nervous dressing room in the last 140 overs knowing how close we were. I cannot praise the guys enough for their effort, their willingness to learn and front up to what was a very tough challenge.
How it all began
I was surprised with the level of improvement we achieved after losing the first Test in Ahmedabad. I talked about playing to our potential but was surprised that we managed to do it straight away after a defeat. We put all the doubts to bed and actually proved to ourselves that we can play well here. In Mumbai the fact that we knew that we were playing on a wicket that will produce a result because the ball was turning so big, freed us up. No one except ourselves was expecting us to win on a turner. That really helped.
The first ‘Test’
This is probably the toughest tour you can start your captaincy career with apart from the Ashes. Playing the Ashes away is challenging as well in terms of pressure but playing India in India as your first Test tour as captain – it cannot get much tougher than that. I can’t thank the team enough for the way the lads have approached the tour and embraced India and its conditions. A lot of credit goes to Andy Flower and the backroom staff for the way they have managed us.
The ‘turning’ point
We’re probably lucky to have the two best spinners in the world and they have been outstanding. We clearly got it wrong in Ahmedabad by not playing Monty [Panesar] but when once we put that right, he has been outstanding. He bowled 52 overs [in India’s only innings in Nagpur] and it’s a dream for any captain. You just throw the ball knowing he will be there or thereabouts.
On the scale of 10 to Ashes
I think both Ashes 2010-11 and this victory are on par. As an Englishman, winning in Australia after so long meant a huge amount but being part of this dressing room for the last half an hour, knowing what we have achieved has been very special. It’s something that will live long in my memory.
It’s very hard talking about yourself but as a captain you go out there and wonder whether you can handle the pressure of batting and captaincy. For me personally, to go and score a hundred in the first game, in that situation after following on, was the most satisfying hundred I could achieve. Whether it inspired the other guys, you’ve got to ask them. If they think so, it means a huge amount to me, especially coming from my mates.
The bright future
Are a new side starting out, someone like Joe Root coming in and impressing in such tough conditions under pressure is wonderful. When he walked out to bat, we were 119 for 4 and the calmness he showed proves what great temperament he has. It bodes well for the future. I think his technique and ability against spin really stood out. His method of defence looked very sound. We all know that in these conditions the hardest thing as a batsman is to get in with men around the bat. We saw he has that ability and he has improved on it on this tour by working thoroughly.