England v India, 3rd Investec Test, Ageas Bowl, 5th day July 31, 2014

Cook delighted with 'perfect' win


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'Important win for young players' - Cook

Alastair Cook hailed "the perfect game" as England clinched their first victory in 11 Tests in Southampton. Cook, in particular, had come under increasing pressure for his place as captain following a grim run of form but he admitted a "weight has been lifted" after he scored half-centuries in both innings and saw several other players contribute valuable performances to help the side to victory by 266 runs over India.

"We had as good a game as you could have," Cook said. "We performed really well, to a man. We set the game up with the bat and then kept pressure on with the ball. Scoreboard pressure told and we had as good a game as you could have."

Cook admitted that concerns over results and his own form - he was averaging 14.33 in 2014 before this game - had started to threaten his position. But though he expressed relief at the result, he also conceded that he had to contribute more consistently if his critics were to be silenced.

"It was getting to a crux situation," Cook said. "If it had carried on like that who knows what would have happened? The weight is lifted. Certainly if I'd scored nought and five and we'd lost the game… Under that pressure, the first innings meant a lot.

"One game does not change everything and we know how important my runs are from the top of the order. I don't know if my captaincy got dragged into it but when you are losing there will be focus on it.

"This summer we've played good cricket for one or two sessions out of three. But this time we sustained it. We were relentless. We never let India off the hook. We kept them under pressure and it takes a lot of skill and determination to do that. We did not let up.

"The guys who were questioned really delivered. Ian Bell scored a big hundred; Stuart Broad bowled incredibly well - when he bowls at that pace no one wants to face him. Chris Woakes bowled with fantastic control and good pace and I've never seen a bowler improve as much as Moeen Ali in a short space of time. Gary Ballance is doing well at No. 3 and Joe Root is doing well at No. 5. We've won a game and I've scored runs. It's been a better week."

The experience of winning would, Cook reasoned, prove vital for a young side. "For some guys, that was their first experience of winning a Test," he said. "Gary Ballance ran to collect a stump at the end and I realised he did not know what it was like. Now he knows. He knows what it takes. The challenge is to repeat it at Old Trafford and try and win the series."

Cook paid particular tribute to the work rate of Moeen after his six second-innings wickets handed England a thumping win. Moeen was labelled a part-time spinner when handed a Test debut at the start of the summer but showed ability far beyond that tag with 6 for 67 to bowl England to victory. Cook praised the effort Moeen has put in to develop his promising offspin, which includes a fledgling doosra.

"His bowling has come on leaps and bounds since the start of the summer," Cook told Sky Sports afterwards. "Credit to Mo, he's worked really hard, it's difficult being a bit part-time, bowling behind Saeed Ajmal at Worcester, but he's fronted up to the responsibility."

Moeen's bowling proved a useful option in the first two Test of the series; he arrived at the Ageas Bowl with seven wickets but finished the match as the joint-second highest wicket-taker in the series with 15 scalps, one behind James Anderson.

Cook identified Moeen's adaptability as the key to his return in the third Test. "The guys in the nets have been telling him the lines are slightly different bowling in international cricket when you've got to hold an end and he's responded really well. Then on a spinning wicket to get six wickets and win the game, you can't ask for any more."

Moeen is one of several young players that have performed well since coming in as part of England's "new era" at the start of the summer. Ballance made his third century in six Tests at the Ageas Bowl and is now the leading run-scorer in the series.

"People will remember that for a long time," Cook said of the moment of victory. "We've worked incredibly hard and had some tough moments. We said we want to see the senior guys stand up as well as the youngsters, and one to 11 we've been fantastic.

"I don't think I'm relieved, happy is probably a better word. It's a great performance from day one, I don't think we lost a session and that's credit to the guys. Every one of the 11 has contributed."

That included Cook, whose batting featured more positive play on the front foot after a run of five Tests without a fifty. "I said at Lord's I thought my game was heading back in the right direction," Cook said. "With a 10 and a 20 there it was quite a hard thing to say, but backing it up here I'm incredibly pleased. Getting back into the ball is vital for my game, I'm pretty good on the short ball, but in the danger zone I've nicked off quite a lot, so I need to make sure I'm getting my feet and my head back into the ball."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Valavan on August 2, 2014, 22:59 GMT

    @Rmano Manohar and other fans, the match is done and england has won. When you dont accept DRS, ready to accept howlers. All the excuses can be given, but the truth is indian bowlers never manage to take 20 wickets. England slowly learning bhavaneshwar and Ishanth, Good luck to you guys, but i love that England would keep the momentum going. Ishanth springs some surprises, probably his 7 for shall help him for a poor run in next 10 tests, as he can gloat he took 7 for in Lords. cricinfo please publish

  • Android on August 2, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    it's not a perfect win just one of fluke win just by luck winning toss, batting first, jadeja missed catch big blunder there shouldn't be an excuse for that, bell and ballance luck of not given out bell with 0 run lbw biggest umpire howler, ballance slight edge caught behind earlier during his thirties, could have scored less than 300 in first innings, just by luck they got this win, Indian misjudging moen spin due to pressure off huge first innings score by luck, these instances would have given minnows like Ireland , Bangladesh also a same win luck mattered. .England not a big feat..big thing is India played wonderfully on grass damp pitch of lord's second match turning the tide from lose to win is the big feat.. Indian resurgence you see in last two tests be wary of it..don't depend on luck..

  • Andy on August 1, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    @gandabhai - England having the rub of the green? You must be joking - just ask Ballance. Anyway, if India allowed DRS to be used, many of those blunders would have been rectified. They only have themselves to blame if they get bad decisions against them.

  • Jason on August 1, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    @Xeal Qoofaure, because he was selected as a batsman first and bowler second, even at Worcs. hes a part time bowler. The question will focusing on one skill damage the other, if you want a bowler batsman, who is a spinner, look no further than Rashid at Yorks or Borthwick at Durham.

  • Jason on August 1, 2014, 12:12 GMT

    @Venkat Kris, maybe India should practice their close fielder catching. There isn't a batsman who hasn't benefited from a dropped ach I recent memory Amla's Triple at the Oval in 2012, Vijay at Trent Bridge (a couple were put down off his batting), Rahane at Lords.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Luck makes person talk in whatever way he wants. Cook should have got out at 0 and early in the 2nd innings too. He hides that and boasts as if he has played a fantastic game. He is very susceptible to balls pitching close to off stump and he won't recover that fast. Next match he could be back to Square 1 again. However, It is to be accepted that the slip cordon of England is much much better than India. Jadeja and Rohit shouldn't be in slips. They are prolific fielders at point, cover or extra cover. India needs to groom slip fielders. To me India lost the plot in the first over when they dropped Cook. Still 2 more to go against the apparently weakest batting line up England have ever had. Go India and make use of this opportunity the same was SL did. ALL THE BEST!

  • Bashir on August 1, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    Though played well by Bail Cook and Ballance,but the wining ballance and cradit just go to MoeenAli .why ? u may surprise but not should b.cause no a signal bastman from India could red properly his bowling, right to say by Cook . i have never seen a bowler improve first as mush as Moeen . good luck and best wishes to Moeen .

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    Cook is still a poor captain despite his runs. He should have contained India to less than what India scored finally in the first innings. His bowling changes need to improve a lot. At times one got the impression Cook is not playing but he is a spectator. He never exhibited any control. If despite this England won it was only becaus India played very poorly

  • Steven on August 1, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    Yes it was agood win for England but don't get carried away Cook your runs doesn't mean the pressure should be taken off your rubbish captaincy if India put you under pressure in the next test you will be quick to retreat as you always are bring in Morgan he can captain problem solved I think

  • mysecretme on August 1, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    I don't think England are out of the woods yet. Dropped catches are not going to help cook every time. He might yet fail in the remaining 2 matches. As for Anderson and Broad, if India starts batting positively instead of treating them as the next coming of Jeff Thompson, I think their effect can be minimized. Moin Ali is a different matter. He would've seriously dented some brains out there.

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