Alastair Cook flays Aussies
Essex 502 for 4 (Cook 214, Bopara 135, Tait 2-71) v Australia
Alastair Cook, fresh from receiving the Young Cricketer of the Year award last night, struck a superb double-century for Essex, who completely dominated Australia on an astonishing first day at Chelmsford. On what was a pitch tailor made for batting, Essex smashed 502 for 4 in just 105 overs. The benign conditions assisted the young Essex batsmen, no doubt, but none of Australia's bowlers displayed enough control to stem the flow of runs.
Cook, 20, underlined his class and shared in an opening stand of 140 with Will Jefferson, who made 64, with both batsmen scoring quickly and freely. Jefferson was bowled by Mike Kasprowicz, but Cook and Ravinder Bopara flayed an Australian bowling attack lacking both Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. McGrath, who has missed two of the Ashes Tests this summer through injury, wasn't fit enough to play in this practice match against Essex in what is Australia's only game before the fifth Test at The Oval next Thursday.
Cook and Bopara put on 270 for the second wicket before Cook, on 214, was caught by Jason Gillespie to give Kasprowicz his, and Australia's, second wicket of the day. Bopara completed his hundred, too, from 184 balls. Shaun Tait bowled Mark Pettini for 8, and Bopara quickly followed whose excellent innings came to an end on 135.
Cook conceded he had his fair share of luck during his innings. Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: "It was a flat track and one or two edges did not go to hand. It was a day when things went my way but you have to make the most of little bits of good fortune."
"I was never able to relax. They have got some quality bowlers and to their credit they never gave up," he added.
Perhaps Australia's only consolation will be that this match, an odd two-day fixture, doesn't count as a first-class game which Stuart MacGill, in particular, will be thankful for. MacGill, who could well play alongside Shane Warne at The Oval, haemorrhaged 128 runs in his 24 overs, and remained wicketless. Coach John Buchanan remained pleased with the efforts his bowlers showed, however.
"Generally, I thought we bowled and fielded well," he said. "There were positives from all of them. It is important we go through the physical demands of the game and all of our bowlers did that OK."
"The energy and attitude was first-class throughout, even though a flat pitch and fast outfield did nothing to help the bowlers."