India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day December 17, 2012

Cook savours 'a special tour'


Alastair Cook left the presentation in Nagpur overladen with trophies after England completed their first series win in India for 28 years.

Not just one series trophy but two, plus individual recognition as man of the series, completed a perfect start to Cook's Test captaincy as he joined Douglas Jardine, David Gower and Tony Greig as the only England skippers to win a Test series in India.

Add his unofficial stint as Test captain in Bangladesh when he stood in for Andrew Strauss and he has already twice led England to victories in sub-continent conditions which have so often proved alien.

Cook even put the 2-1 series win alongside the accepted pinnacle for an England player - victory in the Ashes. "It is obviously a very special day, a special tour," he said. "I think it is on a par with the Ashes. As an Englishman winning in Australia after so long meant a huge amount. But to be in that that dressing room there for that last half an hour knowing what we had achieved was a very special place and it will live long in my memory."

England's celebrations were a world away from their misery in Ahmedabad less than a month ago when they were beaten by nine wickets in the opening Test, their frailties against spin again apparent.

Since then, Cook has taken particular pride in England's ability to silence their demons and to adapt to whatever conditions have been thrown at them. His own run tally of 562 in the series led the way set the example with the bat as England conquered India's spinners and they also unveiled two superior slow bowlers themselves in Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

"We have played on four very different wickets," he said. "We didn't handle the Ahmedabad wicket so well, but the other three wickets were all very different in sub-continent style. Everyone in this squad can be proud of what they achieved, especially the way we bounced back after the heavy defeat in Ahmedabad.

"I was surprised at the level we managed to achieve so soon after Ahmedabad to be honest with you. I was talking about playing to our potential but I was surprised we managed to do it straightaway and put all those doubts to bed and prove to ourselves that we could bat in these conditions."

Cook credited a sharply-turning pitch in Mumbai, as advocated by India's captain MS Dhoni, with jolting England into a response.

"After the first game in Ahmedabad it would have been so easy to let head drops, but we showed a lot of character in Mumbai," he said. "I think the fact it was a result wicket in Mumbai really helped us.

"It freed us up knowing that one way or another there would be a result and that people weren't expecting us to win. Once we got over that mental hurdle and were able to trust our ability on these wickets with the bat we certainly made a big leap forward."

But that recovery began earlier than Mumbai. It was Cook's defiant second-innings in the defeat in Ahmedabad that began to set the tone. "You want to prove that the captaincy is not a burden. To do it straight away is a big monkey of your back. It made me very proud that night when I went home after the game. If it gave other people confidence that is even more pleasing."

As the tour developed, Cook got the support he needed from senior players in the dressing room: Kevin Pietersen, the integrated version, looking content with life; Matt Prior, as big an influence on England as Adam Gilchrist once was on Australia; James Anderson, proving himself in India as a skilled practitioner on demoralising surfaces for fast bowling with old ball and new; and the ever-garrulous Swann, delighted to have a partner in crime in Panesar.

"They are big characters in the dressing room," Cook said. "The support they have given me, I couldn't have asked for anything more. To captain those guys can be tough in certain circumstances, but you want that, you want a lot of ideas and strong opinions because that is when you normally get the best thinking done."

Nagpur was the oddest test of all, a pitch that was strikingly slow and uneven at the start and which gradually became more docile, a perfect surface for an England side prepared to bat with discipline to avoid defeat and so win the series.

"We were slightly surprised by the pitch at the start, how low and slow it was," Cook said. "We thought it would get worse but actually it got better. We knew when we were batting in the second innings it was going to be very hard for India to take those wickets and if we applied ourselves with not too many soft dismissals it would be very hard to bowl us out."

England's authority on the final day was unshakeable as the Warwickshire pair of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell took their fourth-wicket stand to 208 in 79 overs, both making hundreds, before the sides shook hands on a draw with England 352 for 4 and celebratory hugs broke out on the England balcony.

"I can't credit the batters enough for fronting up and taking on that challenge. Normally there are a few nerves on day like this but the calm way that Trotty and Belly batted was just fantastic. You can say it's a flat wicket but when you know you have to bat for 150 overs a series win seems a long way away."

This article was updated at 2.30pm on December 17, 2012 with additional media conference material

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on December 20, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    fguy on (December 18 2012, 10:49 AM GMT) My point is that if CM isn't interested in test cricket - as he has indicated many times - why has he posted so much on this series?

    @edgie on (December 18 2012, 10:39 AM GMT) How has AB averaged as a batsman in tests when keeping wicket?

    @Ali_Chaudhary on (December 18 2012, 10:41 AM GMT) And Ajmal wasn't up to much the last time Pak toured England but does that have any bearing to what he's doing now? The marks are for this series alone - end of

    @ ravikb on (December 18 2012, 11:16 AM GMT) Swings and roundabouts. He scored what he scored with one or 2 going for him and a couple going against him so it's kind of levelled itself out don't you think?

  • Anupam on December 19, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    @Mikey76 yes Oz team is struggling due to lots of shuffling of players. While current No1 team SA is having Kallis, amla, smith, AB, with duminy & Plesis & the most IMPORTANT match winner is AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE (steyn, morkel, philander, DE lange, tsotsobe). If ENG were played with positive attitude then SA face real challenge but due to the fear of AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE Poms prepared slow pitches. if same pitch were made in which IND played then there is real fight.

  • michael on December 18, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    England possess at least 5 genuine world class players. (Cook, KP, Prior, Swann and Anderson) with Trott, Bell and Finn pushing hard. Australia have Clarke and Hussey. So I think the onus to find world class players sits firmly on Australia's shoulders. Eng have a nice tune up against NZ to iron out the final ashes XI. It's not looking good for Australia. Randy and Jonesy prepare your excuses...or just go AWOL like usual.

  • Anupam on December 18, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    Hope this will publish ,my two comments are not published. so i'll not repeat my comments again. Well done Poms. but this series leaves a question in my mind is that what will be the future of monty if Eng will play in home, Oz, SA,Nz, WI. rotation policy or sit down until and unless eng tour to sub-continent. ROOT is young so he deserve a permanent place in Eng side if he fails in some matches does't matter be in the some comments to indian fan many of you all written about the retirement of dravid & VVs, be positive fans look at the WI team still struggling since the retirement of clive llyod, Viv etc. atleast IND team is better than WI. ABout SRT he is waiting for Kallis retirement.

  • Matthew on December 18, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Funny how the nation of cricket lovers have suddenly lost interest. During the series I tried to bring up the subject in the local restaurant and shop but the indian owners apparently had no interest. No doubt when they beat a weakened england in a format we don't care about they'll be huge fans again

  • Chris on December 18, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    a very lacklustre display by india. I think the only way forward is to grab the bull by the horns and axe non performing superstars like sehwag tendulkar harbajan zaheer and dhoni in order to make room for promising youngsters

  • t on December 18, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @JG2704 yes, because number of people commenting on a cricket website is a true representation or indication of number of people interested in the game. d'oh @Cpt.Meanster you're spot on. i'm quite an avid cricket fan but even i have been taking to DVR'ing test matches & watching them on fast forward. & i find my interest declining every day. i dont know anyone who watches even a bit of it. they all love t20 but dont have time/inclination even for odi's let alone 5 days of a test. at most they'll know the result. people commenting on here that test cricket is somehow better than odi/t20 & is the only one that requires skill - it just requires a DIFFERENT skill set. that doesnt make a format better or worse than the other. for eg - in that case handwritten letters require more or everything (patience/time/penmanship skills etc) so do the denouncers of odi/t20 just stick to that or do they use email? after all its vulgar isnt it - it's so fast, there's no skill involved in that either

  • Geoffrey on December 18, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    @gsingh7- too late mate, the horse has already bolts, the real game already won. The coach along with most of the A team is leaving. Let's hope India can handle up and coming English prospects, that is all England can spare for a worthless odi and 20/20 pantomime.

  • sharks on December 18, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Alistair Cook, you are a magnificent player and though time will tell how you fare as a captain, but you surely know how to lead by an example as a captain. I hope you will keep your form for years to come and will keep cooking the opposition bowlers, just not against India again :P. You have won a lot of hearts in India with your humbleness. Wish you all the best ahead.

  • gurinder on December 18, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    team blue should leave this boring series behind and should put these englishmen in their place in odi's and show them who are world cup winners and will be till 2015 , come on team blue , 1.2 billion hearts bleed blue

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