No regrets from proud dad Alastair Cook back as he returns to lead the way for England

England's captain Alastair Cook. Picture: PA.

England's captain Alastair Cook. Picture: PA.

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Alastair Cook felt a responsibility to lead England in Bangladesh even though the decision meant leaving his newborn daughter and family behind.

The England captain became a father for a second time over the weekend as wife Alice gave birth to another baby girl, but the opportunity to celebrate the latest addition to their family was all too brief.

Cook was back in Bangladesh on Monday, having travelled to the country during the one-day series to get acclimatised before flying home to attend the birth of his child, and will become England’s most capped Test player in Chittagong this week.

While he felt a pang of guilt at leaving his family behind following the blessing of his wife, Cook will play for England in the first Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium tomorrow without any regrets.

He said: “It doesn’t make you feel like the best husband and father in the world leaving only 18 hours after the birth but we are here now and you have to get stuck in.

“I am really looking forward to playing the game because there is no point moping around.

“You have to be here, it is a very privileged position to captain or play for your country so that is part of the reason we made the decision as a family for me to come back.”

It will be a memorable occasion for Cook when he features in his 134th Test, overhauling the England record he currently holds jointly with former captain Alec Stewart.

He said: “Over the last two weeks it has not been that close to my mind and I did have to be reminded about it yesterday, but I would never have thought in 2006 when I made my debut I would get close to breaking that. It will be a very special moment.”

What gives him more satisfaction, however, is playing in what will be his 132nd consecutive Test – he missed what would have been his third match in Mumbai in 2006 due to illness.

“Luck plays a huge part in terms of never breaking a finger in catching practice or blowing up your knee the day before and getting a knock on it so you can’t walk,” he said.

“The other thing is being consistent enough over a period of time not to get dropped. Probably more the consecutive record is a proud thing.”

As for how long he can continue, he added: “The more times you pack your bags to leave your family at home, you do question how long you can keep doing it for but, at this precise moment of time, playing and being captain of England is something I am very proud of.”

Cook will have a new opening partner in Chittagong, his ninth following the retirement of Andrew Strauss four years ago.

Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett, both of whom played at the top of the order in England’s two warm-ups in Cook’s absence, are vying to replace the vacancy created by Alex Hales, who, like Eoin Morgan, also opted not to travel to Bangladesh due to safety concerns.

Cook, though, felt he was not in a position to answer who will take the role as he did not watch either of the practice games. Duckett made half-centuries in both while Hameed got a half-century in the second fixture.

Cook said: “Unfortunately all I have got is scorecards to go on. It will be one of the more interesting meetings for me, not having much input because I do not know. The decision will ultimately go down to who we think is best suited to opening the batting in general.”

As for whether Northamptonshire batsman Duckett may feature in the middle order instead, Cook added: “Yes he can do.

“Again a lot of his success for Northants has been at the top of the innings. He got selected as an opener so I imagine that is where he will be, but don’t count anything out.”

Visiting captains will again be given the option of bowling first without a toss in the Specsavers County Championship in 2017, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

The measure was introduced for this year’s Championship in a bid to ensure more matches lasted the maximum of four days, thereby preparing players for the step up to five-day Tests.

It is also designed to promote spin bowling and improve batting against spin. The idea is that host counties will be less inclined to produce pitches that favour seam bowlers and therefore shorter games, with the result being more matches lasting the maximum of four days. Spin bowling is generally more prevalent and effective the longer a game lasts.

The ECB argues that a difference is already being made, such as 85 per cent of 2016 matches going into a fourth day compared to 74 per cent in 2015 and 843 Championship wickets being taken by spin in 2016 – up from 752 in 2015.

The decision to retain the playing condition for a second year was ratified by the ECB Board yesterday.

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