Captain Cook Completes Collection

Given the timing of this column, it probably ought to eulogise a maiden Test century from the assured looking Nick Compton. From all accounts a gritty, composed knock which helped England bat through the vast majority of Day Four with the loss of just a solitary wicket, it was just what was needed to settle Compton’s international nerves after a succession of promising ‘starts’ with no notable ‘continuations’ in India.

However the wrong’un is no immediate match reporter at the best of times, let alone when the action is occurring through an English Friday night when pubs are open and beds are comfortable. News also tends to occur quicker than one types, so I’ll leave that for another day.

Instead it was worth noting that Alastair Cook notched up yet another remarkable statistic by completing his 24th Test century: He has now scored a ton against all eight of the Test playing nations and also scored a ton in each country bar Pakistan, which is a little tougher to do since no-one tours there anyway.

The surprise is that it took until his 7th match against New Zealand to complete the set; New Zealand have traditionally loitered among the weaker of the Test playing nations and Cook scores his tons at a rate of better than one in every four games. His ton, a typically patient 116 from 252 balls, joins his 5 centuries against India, 4 apiece against the West Indies and Australia, 3 against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and twins against South Africa and Bangladesh.

Why’s it taken so long to notch against New Zealand? It could be to do with the types of bowlers faced and in what conditions. Whilst Cook’s knack of playing late shows he was obviously schooled in England, his footwork tends to begin slowly and he has always had an early weakness against movement off the pitch from off stump (unlike every other batsman in world cricket, obviously). The types of bowlers who have tended to exploit this weakness are the taller, probing bowlers who hit the seam – think Glenn McGrath and Umar Gul, or more recently Vernon Philander. New Zealand certainly haven’t had bowlers of the consistent quality of those three but they do have a number of opening bowlers who are useful in hitting that awkward line and length – Chris Martin and Kyle Mills spring to mind, each scalping him thrice.

It also doesn’t help that Cook hasn’t played New Zealand for almost 5 years – in which period Cook has evolved into the most brutally unforgiving opener in world cricket. To insert another statistic into the mix: Since August 2010 when a horribly off-colour Cook eeked out a grotty ton against Pakistan, he has twelve centuries and three scores above ninety in just thirty matches. It is difficult to imagine Cook not notching a second century against New Zealand over the next few Tests.

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About wrongunatlongon

I'll muse on various subjects, mainly involving willow, leather and grass. My natural instincts is to heap as many compound adjectives as I can to sporting natterings. If you like, then feel free to link :)
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4 Responses to Captain Cook Completes Collection

  1. awbraae says:

    As a Kiwi fan, I had never before experienced the despair of watching Cook bat, and bat, and bat, and bat. He just looks so assured, so unlikely to get out, its no wonder that some of the best bowling attacks in the world have succumbed to him.

    • Yup, you need to get him early or just after a break (I have it in my head that he oftens gets out at the start of Day Two having batted through Day One but I have no way of proving that!). He’s not even what I’d describe as being particularly gifted or even technically sound, but once he gets into his groove the options to get him out get smaller and smaller as he bats so comfortably within his limitations. Could be a few more big ones over the next few Tests between us!

  2. muzgrob says:

    You’re forgetting about Zimbabwe in terms of his collection though I can understand why you wouldn’t list them. A very nice article. I love watching Cook bat, easily the best opening batsmen going around at the moment.

    • Yup, fair shout. The last time England played a Test against Zimbabwe was in 2003, 3 years before Cook made his debut. The last time they played a series more than one game long was in 2005. Zimbabwe…I don’t know what the question is with them, let alone the answer.

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