Alastair Cook – a threat to Australia and Tendulkar

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    England take on Pakistan in the third Test. (AAP Image/Dave Hun

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    Australia knows only too well how big a thorn England captain Alastair Cook may be in the upcoming Ashes series.

    The left-handed opener was the leading run-scorer in the most recent series between the two teams in Australia in 2010-11, compiling a Bradmanesque 766 runs at 127.6.

    In a series that saw England triumph down under for the first-time in 24 years, Cook won the match-of-the match awards in the first and final Tests with scores of 235 not out and 189 on the way to being named man-of-the-series.

    Heading into this series he averages 65.1 against Australia from ten Tests.

    Cook is a throwback to openers of old, an accumulator of runs rather than the now obligatory dasher that populate so many top-order Test batting line-ups nowadays.

    Technically correct and upright at the crease, Cook is a fine exponent of the pull shot, a major weapon in any opener’s arsenal.

    During the last Ashes series when he surpassed 5000 Test runs at the MCG, he became the second youngest batsmen, after Sachin Tendulkar, to reach the landmark at 26 years and ten days.

    At present, he is actually on track to surpass Tendulkar in some other statistical categories before his Test career is over – most runs and most centuries – should he opt to play into his late 30s.

    Cook will turn 29 on Christmas day and has now notched up 92 Tests (the same number, by coincidence, as his Australian counterpart Michael Clarke)

    To date, he has amassed 7524 runs at 49.2 with 25 centuries – the last of those against New Zealand earlier this week.

    After his first 92 Tests, Tendulkar has scored 7752 runs and made 28 centuries.

    It is a tall-order to predict that Tendulkar’s two Test benchmarks will fall to Cook but time is on his side.

    Over his 23-year Test career, Tendulkar has played 198 matches at the rate of 8.5 per year.

    Cook’s 92 Tests have come at a rate of 12.8 per year, given England’s far more frequent Test schedule.

    By Christmas Day – Cook’s birthday – should he continue to average his career-rate of 81.8 runs per Test he will take his career aggregate to 8096 runs from seven Tests against Australia in that time.

    By that stage he would be sitting on 99 Test appearances.

    If England continues to play 12.8 Tests per year, Cook could play 200 before he is 37, barring injury or a substantial loss of form.

    As an opener, he has the best possible chance of batting twice in a match.

    He has batted 163 times in his 92 Tests while at the same point of his career Tendulkar had been at the crease on 147 occasions.

    Tendulkar is currently 40 with the end nigh after 15,837 runs and 51 centuries.

    Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey retired at age 37, Rahul Dravid at 39, and Jacques Kallis will turn 38 in October.

    Kallis is the nearest current-day player to Tendulkar in both aggregate (13,128) and centuries (44) but time is likely to elude him in his pursuit of both landmarks.

    Regardless of how close he gets to Tendulkar’s benchmarks Cook is assured of ending his career as England’s most prolific batsman.

    His 25 centuries is already an England record.

    He sits three clear of Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and 32-year-old Kevin Pietersen.

    Cook currently sits in seventh spot in England’s list of all-time Test run scorers, just 1376 runs behind the number one, Graham Gooch (8900).

    His move to the captaincy has seen him replicate Clarke with a marked upturn in his performance at the crease since taking the helm.

    In 11 Tests in charge he has averaged 69 and scored seven centuries.

    Interestingly, he and Clarke have opposing records when it comes to Test averages both home and away.

    Cook averages 55.8 away and just 45.3 on home soil while Clarke’s average on the road is 42.0 and at home 64.9.

    Both men will be looking to lift their respective deficiencies in the forthcoming series.

    Cook will be the key wicket that Australia will be hunting this northern summer.

    He has shown a distinct liking, and capability, for occupying the crease for many hours – his Test best is a knock of 294 against India, one of seven scores over 150.

    Removing him early with the new ball will be a major challenge for Australia’s pace battery.

    Failure to do so could prove fatal.

    They need only think back two-and-a-half years to be reminded of the potency of Cook’s bat

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (69)

    • Columnist

      May 30th 2013 @ 4:39am
      David Lord said | May 30th 2013 @ 4:39am | ! Report

      Fascinating column Glenn, that mine of information took some digging, a great job. You are spot on naming Alastair Cook as the biggest danger to the Australians, he is a run-machine with the patience of Job.

      And there is one more in Jonathan Trott, who seems to have been around for an age, always accumulating, always with time to play shots all round the wicket.

      If these two get together too often, the baggy greens will be in for a lot of leather chasing.

      • Columnist

        May 30th 2013 @ 8:32am
        Glenn Mitchell said | May 30th 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        No doubt David. Both Cook and Trott, once they are set, can take an awful lot of shifting – two very fine players.

        • May 30th 2013 @ 7:28pm
          Red said | May 30th 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

          If there is any benefit in having Mickey Arthur it must be his ability to tap into the SA braintrust. Cook was phlianders bunny at the end of the last series and Steyn owns a pair of Trott bunny slippers….

    • Roar Guru

      May 30th 2013 @ 6:37am
      Tim Holt said | May 30th 2013 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      In a sense the figures are very impressive but are superfluous to prove your point.

      With you only having to say the likes of Cook are successful because they embrace traditional styles of batting and disciplines in an Age where most are being polluted by ‘flash’

      • Columnist

        May 30th 2013 @ 8:01am
        Glenn Mitchell said | May 30th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Your thoughts on Virender Sehwag?

        • Roar Guru

          May 30th 2013 @ 8:34am
          Tim Holt said | May 30th 2013 @ 8:34am | ! Report

          Viru, loved the guy, but he was a case of being in the right place at the right time when there was a very cynical trend towards flattening of pitches and the absurd bouncer rule. Especially in Asia, where all want to see batsmen blitz. Just on the Age, by memory, 22 in the history of the game have averaged over 50 with the bat, but in 2010 alone, 27 batsmen went past that mark- points to either exceptional batsmen or everything being in their favour.

          Back to Sehwag, on more traditional pitches like found in England and South Africa he was a dead man walking for his style is so fallible against the moving ball. People might challenge this view by pointing to his success in Australia, but sadly we too have been diminished in our Test might by the sting taken out of pitches. You just have to look at the tragedy that is the WACA, that used to be the best pitch in the game, but after Ambrose demolished Lawsons jaw, you could see year after year it becoming more akin to the batting paradise of Adelaide with a bit more pace and bounce

          Thanks for replying to my thoughts Mr Mitchell, I have long viewed you as one of the most credible and outstanding Commentators on our great game

          • May 30th 2013 @ 9:30pm
            Vikramsinh said | May 30th 2013 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

            With viru
            I think you miss the point
            Early 4s and some time 6
            Playes in the bollers mind

            The lenth gets shorter and and it kills the movement

            Viru has some 100 in sa aus and eng too

        • May 30th 2013 @ 9:55am
          Nick Inatey said | May 30th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Viru was a once in a lifetime, gift to cricket. It is simply astonishing that such an aggressive batsman not only performed better in test cricket, but felt his attacking game to be more suitable to the red ball game.

          I think Virender Sehwag will eventually be classed in the same category as Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne – paradigm changing cricketers. The latter two were known for their once in a lifetime talents during their career. Viru wont quite have that same acknowledgement, but in 5-10 years he will be remembered the same way. People like David Warner (and to an extent Chris Gayle) will try to match Viru’s test exploits, but will come up short.

          Tim’s observations regarding Viru’s failings in England/SA are indeed correct, but no one is perfect. Warne struggled in India, Gilchrist struggled with around the wicket bowling, especially in England.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 30th 2013 @ 10:29am
          josh said | May 30th 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          I find it interesting that of the four men to have 2 test 300’s the names Gayle and Sehwag appear.

          I don’t discount the favour batsmen have flatter pitches, big bats smaller boundaries etc… But to score a test 300 still requires plenty of cricketing ability and shouldn’t be so readily dismissed.

          The other two are Bradman and Lara.

          • May 30th 2013 @ 12:36pm
            Nick Inatey said | May 30th 2013 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

            I’ll never discount Gayle’s abilities, two 300’s by anyone deserves acclaim….but Viru was much more consistent.

            Even taking away the triple centuries, and the 290 by Viru….he had a remarkable ability to not just score fast, but score lots. His first eleven centuries were all above 150. Viru also managed to score big big scores when no-one else could. His 200 on a Sri Lankan minefield comes to mind. Viru also has a fine fourth innings record too…his blitzing 80 against England was incredible.

            • Roar Guru

              May 30th 2013 @ 7:12pm
              JGK said | May 30th 2013 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

              Viru’s average Test innings is about 1 ball longer than Jason Gillespie’s average Test innings.

              I’m not sure that’s a great prototype for the Opener of the Future.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 31st 2013 @ 11:18am
                josh said | May 31st 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                His test average is 50.

                Who cares who many balls he faces? I think it’s a bit of an irrelevant argument; the balls faced per innings). I’d rather a player who can average 50 runs per innings, than one who averages 100 balls per innings at a lower average.

              • Roar Guru

                May 31st 2013 @ 11:23am
                JGK said | May 31st 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

                Not for an opener where part of the job is to see off the new ball.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 31st 2013 @ 11:31am
                josh said | May 31st 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                If you’re playing pre-2000 maybe.

                I’d suggest that in a quick 50, the ball has seen the fence a few times to get the shine off.

              • Roar Guru

                May 31st 2013 @ 12:01pm
                JGK said | May 31st 2013 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                Well in 2013 the best opener in the world plays more like an old school opener and less like Viru.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 30th 2013 @ 10:05am
      josh said | May 30th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Why take 753 words, when three will do. He can bat.

      • May 30th 2013 @ 11:14am
        jameswm said | May 30th 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        And I don’t think anyone’s doubting that he’ll be a threat. I think Starc and Faulkner could worry him the most, but they aren’t in our 4 best bowlers.

        • May 31st 2013 @ 3:36am
          SDHoneymonsyer said | May 31st 2013 @ 3:36am | ! Report

          Faulkner maybe, if he plays. Cook does struggle against left armers, but I don’t think Starc is the right sort of bowler – he mainly brings the ball into the left handers, whilst Cook struggles against the good length ball that leaves him. Zaheer Khan bowled brilliantly at him, whilst Trent Boult over recent months has too. They’re different sorts of bowlers to Starc.

          • May 31st 2013 @ 3:37am
            SDHoneymonsyer said | May 31st 2013 @ 3:37am | ! Report

            Sorry, should have added Mohammed Aamer to that. Had Cook on toast back in 2010, although he was going through a majorly lean patch as Gooch tinkered with his technique.

    • May 30th 2013 @ 11:33am
      Bearfax said | May 30th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      Yes. he does seem to be the Matt Hayden of the English side.

      • May 30th 2013 @ 12:31pm
        Nick Inatey said | May 30th 2013 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        Oh Bearfax….how on earth is he the Matt Hayden of the English side?

        • May 30th 2013 @ 5:27pm
          Bearfax said | May 30th 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

          I’m amazed that you ask or can you not see the parallels.

          Cook is 28 and a half. He struggled early to establish himself with some good scores surrounded by a lot of low scores. Hayden went through similar problems and was in fact dropped. Hayden mind you had a better first class average at that age at near 55 while Cook is only a little over 48.

          In his prime Hayden demolished attacks and his test average for a time was close to the mid 50s and opposing bowlers became very wary of him. The aim was also to get him cheaply if you wanted to defeat Australia. He gave other players the platform to score heavily.

          Cook is still developing and may well surpass Hayden’s efforts, though his test average is still under 50. Hayden retired with his average slipping down to just under 51.

          At his peak Hayden was peerless as an opener in his age and remains possibly Australia’s all time best opener. Cook still has to achieve those goals, but he certainly shows the pedigree. Who of course can forget Hayden’s 380, the the highest test score then in cricket test history.

          The only difference between them is that Hayden dominated attacks, Cook doesnt dominate, but rather accumulates his runs….just as effective. Any suggestion at this stage though that Cook is superior to Hayden is contrary to the records. Maybe in 5 years Cook will be seen as a better opener. But not today.

    • May 30th 2013 @ 11:45am
      Showbags said | May 30th 2013 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      Cook is a quality player no doubt but he still has his weaknesses that good bowling attacks can exploit.

      Where we went wrong in 2010/11 is we bowled too short too him. I read a stat where he scored a huge amount of his runs through point and square leg (which was a huge indicator of us bowling too short to him) and very few runs down the ground. Hopefully this time we pitch it up and ask him to drive down the ground with slips in place to take any offerings.

      • May 30th 2013 @ 2:23pm
        DubbleBubble said | May 30th 2013 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

        Yes, exactly. Aussie pace bowlers were going through the phase of pitching it too short with little swing and Englands bats had a field day with us, especially Cook. I’m very interested to see how he handles it pitched up and swinging.

    • May 30th 2013 @ 11:46am
      Silver_Sovereign said | May 30th 2013 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      He is a big threat along with Trott and KP. Cook has the skill to dig in for a long innings or be aggressive for quick run scoring. Australia’s young batsmen could learn a lot by watching these England batsmen

      • May 30th 2013 @ 12:04pm
        Bearfax said | May 30th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        Hopefully they will Silver S

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