Ian Baker - Cook performance boosts England
01 Dec 2010 - 10:03:32
What an innings. After a year when he had been severely criticised by many so called experts and writers, such as myself, Alastair Cook rammed those words squarely back down our throats.
It was a knock that proves he is finally good enough to compete with the world’s best. Two hundred and thirty five not out is one of England’s highest scores of the last 50 years and helped ensure that the Three Lions drew a first Test they looked near certainties to lose for all of the first three days.
Such a significant knock did not look like coming.Cook made 67 in the first innings at The Gabba. That was one of the worst fifties I've ever seen. He looked utterly hopeless outside of off stump on day one.
I counted one boundary through that side - and that was an inadvertent edge through slips - and just seven runs.Fast forward three days and the Essex man looked a different player. He was driving and cutting with the best players in the world. It put all doubts to bed about his place in the side and in doing so ensured England’s sky-high confidence increased even further.
And with Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott also adding centuries, England can put aside the worries over the bowling - how they could do with a fifth bowler - as they move on to the second Test in Adelaide.
Psychology is big in any sport - particularly cricket where a second match takes place in the same week the first ended. What is more, to achieve such a convincing draw after looking down and out will give England such a huge advantage for the rest of the series.
Australia look shot to bits. Peter Siddle's amazing first innings hat-trick looks a long time ago now and other than that - and contributions from Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin - Ricky Ponting's side can take few other positives from the first Test.
They have plenty of problems, not least the form of their bowling attack. Mitchell Johnson was woeful, Ben Hilfenhaus not much better and Xavier Doherty looking far from international quality.
England cannot wait for the second Test, Australia have plenty of food for thought.