Simon Hughes: Cook's insatiable appetite for runs
The England captain has followed his great mentor Graham Gooch in being equally adept at all forms of the game
Alastair Cook had a great day as a captain and a batsman, with England ending up convincing winners on the back of his hundred.
As far as his batting is concerned, he’s become very good at making runs in any situation. Like his great mentor Graham Gooch, Cook has learned to adapt his game to whatever is needed.
We saw an example of that when Sunil Narine – the one bowler who could have caused England problems – was bowling at Cook.
First he cut him for four, which forced Narine to go around the wicket to take the cut out of the equation. Cook then put his foot down and slapped him over mid-wicket. In consecutive balls, he hit the ball in two opposite directions. His pragmatic attitude is simply to hit the ball where there are no fielders in his very calculated way.
When he’s in such good form, there’s a certainty about Cook's batting which is both reassuring and a trifle boring. That's actually more of a compliment than a criticism. He simply doesn’t get bored with making runs and is obviously going to be the most prolific batsman England have ever had in every form of the game.
It should be said, however, that in this game, Cook and Bell were not under much pressure. It was an incredibly good pitch and 240 was woefully short of the score of around 320 which was required to challenge England. A bigger test will come against a better bowling attack, or with more runs to chase.
As a captain, I don’t think Cook is the most enterprising I’ve seen, but he’s open-minded and he listens to his bowlers and they respond to him.
Cook has the added advantage of being able to call on the astute brains of Anderson and Broad. They are both thinkers, as well as clever bowlers and they almost captain the side in the field at times.
Cook is fortunate in having a five-man specialist bowling attack which doesn’t bowl any rubbish. They don’t bowl long hops, or half volleys and there are very few balls down the legside. A measure of their discipline is that there were no wides or no balls until the 20th over and not a single extra was conceded in the first 19.5 overs.
The bowlers give Cook a lot of attacking options, too. He uses Broad, for example, in the Powerplay overs because he’s so clever at exploiting what’s in the pitch and also bowls very accurately.
The one disappointing feature about England’s one-day cricket is that Swann doesn’t bowl in a Powerplay. He always avoids it and I think someone of his ability should challenge himself more. But when you have a 6ft 6in bowler like Broad lurking it seems a little less urgent to bowl Swann.