With the Ashes underway with a scintillating first test match many in England believe that history could be in the making in the next four tests. The man who stole the show in Brisbane was 25 year-old opening batsman Alastair Cook. With the opener playing in his second Ashes tour he managed to answer his critics scoring 302 runs over the course of his two innings with an unbeaten 235 in the second innings. Cook proved that he could dominate bowlers, maintain concentration and score big against one of the best teams in world cricket.
This was his highest score in test cricket by some margin and Cook spent a massive 630 minutes at the crease proving his focus and concentration were unbelievable in gaining an impressive draw for the tourists. Accomplishing this double century and averaging slightly over 45 in test cricket, as well as being vice-captain of his country at just 25 years old bodes an interesting question. How good can Alastair Cook be and is he the future of English cricket over the next decade?
Well in the eyes of many Cook can be as good as he wants to be. With the intense concentration and solid technique which was shown by Cook many believe there are no limits to his potential. Perhaps the most satisfying praise for Cook comes from former England opener Marcus Trescothick who stated that “Alastair Cook has the mental strength to follow up his record-breaking Brisbane double century” because of his “strong character.”
This sort of praise is shared by many and as I was watching Cook’s double century innings during the first test it was clear that even the Australian commentators, such as Michael Slater and Shane Warne, admired Cook’s talent, and that he could be a real problem for Australia throughout the series. The worrying thing for them was the notable improvement in Cook’s footwork which had caused him many problems over the summer in the series against Pakistan. It almost resulted in Cook getting dropped by the England selectors but he saved his place with an impressive century in the last test of the summer.
With Cook beating Donald Bradman’s record score at the Gabba in Brisbane he showed that he is world class and has the ability to perform against the biggest teams under severe pressure. With England trailing by a huge margin following the first innings Cook played the biggest role in turning the situation around and guaranteeing England would come out of Brisbane with at least a draw. 2010 has been a very interesting year for the Essex cricketer, who has scored four centuries and gained his first experience of captaining his country in the series against Bangladesh earlier in the year.
Cook’s captaincy led to significant praise from many including Ashes winning captain, Michael Vaughan who said “he liked what he saw”. Cook said of the experience that it was a “real eye-opener” in terms of how much man-management was involved in the job. During the series Cook managed to score an impressive 342 runs at a massive average of 114 proving that even though he was captain against weak opposition he didn’t allow himself to be overawed by the responsibility which was involved.
Before his 110 in the last test match of the summer against Pakistan Alastair Cook had only managed a top score of 29 all summer at an average of 13.25. There was a lot of concern with Cook’s technical faults and lack of footwork at the crease. However, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower both backed him repeatedly despite media criticism and the fans calling for Cook to be replaced. After much work with Graham Gooch, who Cook has a massive amount of respect for, he managed to finally get an innings under his belt and the rest is history.
His form was extremely good in the Ashes warm up matches and he followed that up with a patient 67 on a much worse wicket on the opening day than when he managed an unbeaten 235* on days three and four later in the match. There is no doubt Cook has turned the corner and he is going to be a pivotal figure for England in their quest to retain the Ashes down under. Alastair Cook will not be happy to settle for the double century he has managed so far, his next goal will be to be the leading run scorer in the series and to achieve the first English victory in Australia since the 1986/1987 series.
From an early age after an impressive debut year with an average over 46 in 2006 and an average of almost 44 in 2007, Cook was the natural selection to become England’s vice-captain and seemingly the man who will take over from Andrew Strauss in the future. After a blip in form during 2008 with an average of 36 and failing to achieve one century it was questioned by many to mould such a young star into what they wanted to be the next captain rather than let his game naturally develop.
However, in 2009 Cook stepped his game up once again and scored three centuries at an average of over 45 and 2010 has been even better for Cook who in eleven matches has scored four centuries at a superb average of 56.22. These figures clearly show that Alastair Cook’s consistency is extraordinary and with fourteen centuries already to his name at the age of 25, Cook has his sights on joining the elite in cricket by scoring over 30 centuries in his career. With potentially another decade of cricket for Alastair Cook still to play, his talent has no limit. Cook without doubt has the potential to become the world’s best opening batsman as well as a future England captain where he is sure to be a huge success because of his reserved but determined nature.