A historic second day in the third Test in Kolkata saw England captain Alastair Cook topple a number of records. Nick Westby reports.
Geoff Boycott led the plaudits for England captain Alastair Cook and tipped him to not only extend substantially his total of Test centuries, but get close to Sachin Tendulkar’s tally as well.
Cook became England’s most prolific Test centurion when he completed his 23rd hundred – and third in successive matches – in the third Test at Eden Gardens yesterday.
He was 136 not out as he resumed in the early hours of this morning, with England handily placed on 216-1, just 100 runs shy of India’s first-innings total.
Cook is still only joint-20th in an all-time list headed by India’s Tendulkar on 51, but at the age of 27, the Gloucester-born left-hander should have many years ahead of him to move up the table.
He is also the youngest batsman in history to reach 7,000 runs, a milestone he passed with his 88th run on the second afternoon of the third Test as he and Nick Compton consolidated England’s advantage over India.
It was also his fifth in consecutive Tests as captain dating back to his time as Andrew Strauss’s deputy in Bangladesh almost three years ago.
And Yorkshireman Boycott – who made 22 hundreds in 108 Tests – believes Cook will go on to score many more Test hundreds for England.
“I don’t think it’ll be such a big deal to him, to pass Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, myself and Kevin Pietersen,” said Boycott, after 27-year-old Cook beat his tally in just his 86th Test.
“He’s going to get a lot more unless he suffers some serious illness or injury.
“He’s got a sound technique, he’s the captain so he’ll automatically get picked – he’ll be way up towards 40 by the time he’s finished, high 30s maybe. If you think he’ll be in his best years until he’s about 32, that’s five years.
“You play about 14 Tests a year so that’s about another 70 Tests, and he’ll probably get about 15 Test hundreds in that.
“I think he’ll be close to 40 (hundreds) by the time he’s in his early 30s, then it depends how long he plays; he might get more than that.”
Playing alongside Cook as England took the fight to India on the second day of the pivotal Test, was Compton, who was happy to play the supporting role to his record-breaking partner.
The Somerset batsman’s maiden Test half-century was overshadowed by his captain’s historic knock, but Compton’s 57 in an opening stand of 165 was nevertheless a valuable contribution and he was pleased with his efforts.
He said: “It was nice to get there and support the captain like I did.
“To put on 160-odd with the captain and get that score up front is great and it’s looking good at the moment.
“The more time you spend out there the easier it gets. I’ve tried to work on that and obviously Alastair does that very well.
“It does get easier, especially in these conditions because the wicket’s quite slow and you get used to the pace of the ball.”
Compton was frustrated to see his three-and-a-half-hour vigil ended by a disputed lbw call from umpire Rod Tucker.
“It’s one of those things,” said Compton, who is keeping Yorkshire’s own exciting young opening prospect Joe Root on the sidelines.
“It brushed my glove. It’s very tough for the umpire to call.”
England resumed in the early hours 100 runs in arrears, with Cook and Jonathan Trott (21no) having taken their partnership to 51 by the close.
Compton added: “The first thing is to get to their score. Once we get to their score, the runs become a bonus, but we need a substantial lead again because the wicket is quite good.”
Compton has been struck by the calmness Cook transmits down the 22 yards, and felt privileged to be directly involved at such relative close quarters.
“Standing out there (yesterday), looking up at the board and seeing those stats – 7,000 runs, the youngest player to do that, it was quite an amazing moment,” he said.
“I thought, ‘I’m batting with this guy; he’s just got another hundred and he’s the all-time leading English hundred-maker ...’.”
Compton, grandson of the great Denis, has trodden a very different path to international cricket.
He can only admire the prodigious Cook, a Test player at 21 and now with five successive centuries in his role as captain – another all-comers’ record.
“It speaks volumes that he’s been able to do that from a young age, and still is a young player,” added Compton.
“A lot of players only find their feet at perhaps my age, 28 or 29, but he did it a long time before.”
Compton likens Cook’s presence to that of another he knows even better, ex-England opener Marcus Trescothick.
“To bat with him is quite similar, in some ways, to batting with Trescothick back at Somerset – although clearly different players,” said Compton.
“It’s how clinical they are with every delivery, very few mistakes and every ball played in similar fashion.
“It’s a mark of a serious player that he does the simple things very, very well and for a long period of time.”
Before Cook and Compton got to the crease, Monty Panesar finished with 4-90, to add to his 11 wickets in the series-levelling win in Mumbai, as England picked up the last three Indian wickets for 43 runs in the morning session – despite some late belligerence from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52).