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Shirin Sadikot in Nottingham 08 July 2014 - 08:32pm IST

Prior almost certain to play: Cook

England captain confident of keeper’s fitness; keen to get back his own form

As he took the podium to address the gathered press ahead of the first Test against India, Alastair Cook looked relaxed and calm from a short break following the tough Test series defeat against Sri Lanka.

Having been under pressure from all quarters owing to his team’s poor run of form, the England skipper hoped to set things right against India.
“It was good to have 10 days away and now really excited to play a big Test series. We don’t play too many five-match Test series and India is a very big team,” Cook said.

He also hoped that the series against India would end the famine of runs from his bat. “I have never felt that I have been hitting the ball particularly badly this summer,” Cook said. “I haven’t been able to transform the work done in the nets in matches.

“As one of the top six batsmen, you have to score the runs, whether or not you are the captain. I haven’t been doing that in the last year or so and no one is keener to put that right than I am. I have worked very hard in the last 10 days and now I have to make sure my mind clears out when I walk out there to bat.

“The form is always an innings away. That’s a beauty of form that I can’t understand. You go in to bat, feel a bit rusty for the first 10 minutes, you get a bit of luck and you’re back to where you were. No one can understand why you have these peaks and troughs in your career – the better players have less of them and are fairly consistent. I know I have to score runs in this series,” the England captain said.

There was a question mark over Matt Prior’s fitness after he reported mild tightness in his right thigh during practice on Monday. Although Jos Buttler has been called up as a cover for the wicketkeeper batsman, Cook was confident that Prior will be fit to take field at Trent Bridge.

“He’s pretty good. He had a bit of swelling on his thigh yesterday but has done everything we asked him to do today. We are 99 per cent certain that he will be fine and will have a little check in the morning to make that sure.”

The build-up to this series and the composition of the two sides has made everyone believe it is going to be a tight contest between the two young and inexperienced teams, keen to conquer their losing streaks.

Cook, who led England to a 4-0 whitewash at home against India in 2011, understands that the unpredictability of young Team India could prove dangerous.

“Not many of their guys have played a Test in England before. You can look at it in two ways. You can say they will miss the experience of certain players in certain situations but then again, most of these guys don’t have any scars of 2011. They can be a really competitive side and we know that,” he acknowledged.

The skipper was also vary of the workload his two premier pacers – James Anderson and Stuart Broad – will have to shoulder in the long series in the absence of Graeme Swann.

“We know Stuart’s knee can get a bit sore and Jimmy is over the age of 30 so he can get sore slightly earlier than he did earlier. But he bowled at 90 mph in the last series even after bowling 20 overs. So, he has always managed to fight that. We will know more after this series,” he said.

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