Cricket: As tensions rise, Cook s form woes loom large

By Julian Guyer

England ODI captain Alastair Cook (left) and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, with the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy. Photo / Brett Phibbs
England ODI captain Alastair Cook (left) and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, with the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy. Photo / Brett Phibbs

While an already tense series could reach boiling point after the altercation between James Anderson and India's Ravindra Jadeja, England's primary concern heading into the second test remains the form of captain Alastair Cook.

The International Cricket Council charged fast bowler Anderson with allegedly "abusing and pushing" Jadeja, the incident said to have happened after the players left the field for lunch on the second day of last week's drawn first test in Nottingham.

Both are free to play at Lord's with a disciplinary hearing unlikely to be underway by the time the test starts tonight, meaning Cook's form remains the biggest worry.

England haven't won in nine tests, their worst run for more than 20 years, with a test record last-wicket partnership of 198 at Trent Bridge bailing out the home side after the latest in a long line of top-order collapses.

"I've got to believe the wheel will turn at some stage," said Cook.

"I need to start scoring runs at the top of the order for England."

England have added Simon Kerrigan to their squad, after part-time off-break bowler Moeen Ali proved expensive in Nottingham.

Left-arm spinner Kerrigan hasn't played test cricket since conceding 53 runs in eight wicketless overs on his debut against Australia at The Oval last year.

"I fear for Simon Kerrigan," said former England captain Michael Vaughan.

"Throwing him out to bowl at Lord's potentially, against an Indian batting line-up that plays spin with its eyes shut, is unfair."

India, by contrast, have a proven test off-spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin waiting in the wings, even if his away bowling average of nearly 75 against Australia and South Africa is hugely worse than his under 29 on Indian pitches.

At Trent Bridge, it seemed the most likely way Anderson would be sidelined was if he was required to bowl long spells on similarly docile pitches throughout the rest of a series crammed into just 42 days.

"If we end up bowling 60 overs [each] every week then we are not going to get through the five tests," said Anderson.

Cook added: "We just need a pitch with a bit of life in it."

After Trent Bridge groundsman Steve Birks apologised for his pitch, attention turned to Mick Hunt, his Lord's counterpart.

"They [captains and coaches] tell me what they want the pitch to do all the time but I don't listen to a word they say," Hunt once explained. "I just say, 'okay' and carry on doing exactly what I planned."


Testing tally

25
innings since Alastair Cook has scored a 100
24
is his average in that time
9
tests since England have won

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