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George Dobell in Kolkata
December 9, 2012
News : Gooch predicts Cook's best still to come
Report : Brief stutter before England take 2-1 lead
News : Cook hails 'great' England performance
High Performance : Cook instrumental in England taking series lead
Features : England rewarded after learning harsh lessons
Matches: India v England at Kolkata
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
Graham Gooch has hailed England's back-to-back Test wins in India as a "monumental achievement". Gooch, the highest run-scorer in England's Test history and the side's current batting coach, claimed England were now "in the ascendancy", but warned that with one Test remaining, plenty of hard work lay ahead if they were to claim their first series win in India since 1984-85.
After losing the first Test in Ahmedabad, England won in Mumbai and Kolkata to take a 2-1 lead with one match to play. While Gooch praised the team for their fightback, he also suggested India might prepare a "result pitch" for the last Test in Nagpur, starting on Thursday, to maximise their chances of securing a result to draw the series.
"It was a monumental achievement," Gooch said. "We know these conditions are sometimes alien to English players. We lost the first Test, we took a bit of a beating there, and in their conditions - India have set up the conditions in Mumbai and Kolkata - our guys have responded magnificently. Let's be fair, they've outplayed India in both the last two Tests.
"When you go 1-0 down against hosts who have a very good record in their own conditions, it's very satisfying when you can turn it round and use the skills you have practised long and hard to outplay the opposition.
"But I don't think for one minute that the guys think the job is done. We're 2-1 up with one to play. We want a positive result in Nagpur. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying it's going to be a result pitch in Nagpur. If I was India I would want a result pitch to take my chances.
"The things MS Dhoni has said after Mumbai I totally agree with - he wants to play on pitches that produce results and I don't have a problem with that. I'd rather have a pitch that produces a result that one that produces 600 plays 600. So we know it's likely to be a pitch where it will be tough for the batsmen, with the ball turning. But after our last two performances we can go there with confidence and we've got to make sure we bring our A game to Nagpur."
Gooch was particularly keen to credit Alastair Cook for England's revival. Cook scored his third century of the series and the 23rd of his Test career to set up the victory in Kolkata and has also impressed as a new captain in helping his side come from behind in a series in conditions where many expected them to struggle.
"He's always been an impressive young man, mature beyond his years," Gooch said. "He works hard at his game. We've spent hours and hours in the nets over a long period of time and credit to him, he's the one who deserves to take the plaudits. He's worked hard at all types of his technique against spin, pace and swing bowling and he's had some low moments - as you do as a player - and now he's reaping the rewards for that hard work.
"We showed lots of character coming back, but Alastair is a character who tried to keep his feet on the ground in defeat or in success and when he does well or has a bad day. It's a good way to approach it. He's very level-headed. From the time he first came into the Essex professional set-up to the time he scored his first Test hundred, he has been very mature about his cricket. He knows exactly what he wants and he knows how to go about it. He works very hard and, generally, that's a winning combination.
"He has led this team really well. He's still learning as a captain and he'll continue to develop. He's only new to captaincy. He's had a good start, there'll be highs and lows along the way but he'll take them equally and move forward. English cricket is lucky to have a player like him at the head of their team."
Gooch also praised the desire and commitment of England's other batsmen. "The guys have worked hard at their game," he said. "Our guys have a good work ethic. They've taken on board all the help they've been given about playing the turning ball and how to shape their technique. Credit to them, they've worked hard since the first training camp in Mumbai. All the work they've put in over a long period of time has now started to show rewards. We've got to make sure we carry that on in the next game and perform well there and come away from this country with our supporters being proud of the England cricket team."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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His rapid improvement with the ball has been integral to England coming from behind to lead the series - but that is just one area where Moeen Ali continues to impress
With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests