New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington March 13, 2013

Cook 'as good as anyone, barring Bradman' - McCullum

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Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has heaped the ultimate praise on his opposite number Alastair Cook saying, on current form, he is as good as anyone who has played after Donald Bradman. Cook, who scored his 24th Test hundred in Dunedin, laughed off the shock comparison.

The century at University Oval was Cook's fourth hundred in five overseas Tests during the 2012-13 season, following a monumental series against India. But while his feats have rightly been acknowledged as putting him on the path to being labelled a great, it is rare to be uttered in the same sentence as Bradman who ended his career with the immortal average of 99.94. The next best on the list is Graeme Pollock (60.97), then George Headley (60.83). The highest average for a current player is Kumar Sangakkara's at 56.54.

McCullum, though, did not hold back his praise after being asked a question about how New Zealand planned to quell Cook's run-scoring feats. "He's obviously a genius batsman, his record is testament to that," McCullum said. "Where he is at in his career at the moment, he's as good as anyone who has played the game, probably barring Bradman."

Cook's response, after being taken aback by the comparison, was: "It's very nice of him to say that. I'm not quite sure where he's got that from." There was also plenty of mutual respect as Cook acknowledged McCullum's recent form. The New Zealand captain has scored five half-centuries in seven innings across all formats against England, including 74 off 59 balls in Dunedin. "You could talk about his genius batting. The way he hits the ball sometimes," Cook said.

Cook's current Test average of 49.60 places him 40th on the averages list, currently sat between Inzamam-ul-Haq and Denis Compton. Current contemporaries above him include AB de Villiers, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Younis Khan, Michael Clarke, Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar. Purely as a comparison, if you take the point from after last year's World Twenty20 when Test cricket resumed, Cook's average of 76.44 places him third, behind Cheteshwar Pujara and Clarke among batsmen who have played at least five innings.

Cook, though, remains modest about his achievements. "You never quite feel on top of the game," he said. "What was pleasing for me was, after a few starts in the one-dayers here and in India, but [with] no match-winning score, I managed to get that bigger one in the first Test. I seemed to hit the ball okay." A modest oulook from a man compared to the immortal Bradman.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manu_reddy on March 14, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    Any1 can analyse any batsmen/bowler by seeing him but bowlers n batsmen r d best people to analyse their opposite nos..so only bowlers can say who is d best batsmen in d world n in d same way only batsmen can saywho is d best bowler in d world...

  • wrenx on March 14, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    I know a lot of people really rate Cook, but I'm not one of them. I'm inclined to agree with those here who recognise that Tendulkar's taken on far better bowling attacks and found a way of putting together big scores. Cook regularly looks out is depth when faced with quality bowling, and gets an extraordinary number of umpiring errors going in his favour. Maybe he'll get there one day, but for now, he's just a regular batsman with inflated statistics.

  • cric_J on March 14, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Cook is certainly one of the top 3 test batsmen of today along with Amla.These two are in a league of their own and are not flustered by anything.Though Amla is technically better and a more complete batsman.Clarke, I feel , for all his incredible efforts in 2012 is third.There is a certain surity and belief with Cook and Amla that they would be as consistent in the future ,that they could go on and on.Like it was with Dravid.But with Clarke I have my doubts whether he will be able to live up to his standards of last year.Also until last year nobody was very sure of Clarke's capability as a test batsman.And then suddenly after one great year he is being hailed as one of the greatest in Aussie cricket by some.Cook definitely has it in him to be one of the top 10 batsmen in the history of test cricket and in all probability he should be England's highest run scorer of all time if he goes with the same pace.But it is just a little too early to put him up there with some of the greatest.

  • cric_J on March 14, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    I am not going to get into the debate of who is the best test batsman of all time.Different people have different criteria for their assessment.In terms of winning matches for the team ,it would be Ponting,for average it would be Bradman,for consistently scoring mountains of runs it would be Sachin and Lara while for being technically sound it could be one of Dravid,Kallis or Gavaskar.Also I feel that it is not fair to call Bradman the best of all time as the rules of the game and the quality of the game was much different back then.And although Sachin has not been at his best for quite some time now,it is lame and rather ridiculous to compare him to peole like Sehwag and Azhar.AZHAR WHO ??Let us all face it that he is definitely one of the top 3(or make it 5 if needed) batsmen of all time.There is NO DENYING that.

  • dummy4fb on March 14, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    No one is comparing Cook with anyone, the statement simply says that he's the best SINCE Bradman, which honestly, is an unfair comparison in itself. Cook may be the best batsman to have come out of England in the last 50 years but to declare him the best in the world in the last 70 years is getting too carried away. It is grossly unfair to belittle players like Weekes, Sobers, Kallis and Dravid, who have faced most of the top 10 bowlers of all time and succeeded. But then again, if we talk about current form there is no one better than Amla and Cook (not even Clarke who has scored most of his runs on home/dead pitches) currently and dismissing them IN CURRENT FORM is akin to dismissing Bradman in his prime which is a completely agreeable statement.

  • Arrow011 on March 14, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    KP is way better than Cook even in England cricket team. Cook is like Rahul Dravid & KP is Sachin.

  • CricketChn82 on March 14, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    Had Lara/Sachin/Ponting/Kallis/Dravid/Inzamam/Sanga played the same way as cook is playing(Test Specialist) they would have been far ahead of Cook.Cook has not even been considered for 2 ODI world cups.Has played very few ODI matches in his 7 year career.But he can become a All time great for "England" if he continues with the same for next 6-7 years in Tests and Help england win a ODI world cup.No way next to Sir Don - Indian Fan

  • dummy4fb on March 14, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    I think everyone just needs to take a step back and, maybe, read what McCullum has said.

    He said - "Where he is at in his career at the moment, he's as good as anyone who has played the game, probably barring Bradman."

    As far as I can tell, in no way or manner, does that mean or imply he is the best after Bradman. In a general sort of way, he has equated Cook with all the other great batsmen that we recognise as belonging to the top category...all the greats who we've identified, over the years, as better than the rest. Let's credit McCullum with that much. It's not nearly the sweeping statement it's being made out to be.

  • Crackteam on March 14, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Andrew also forgot to look up the current monumental average of Chiteshwar Pujara!

  • phaktaa_tikit on March 14, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    @Imsrk - Tendlya has no notable achievements against the bowlers u mentioned apart from beating them on dead tracks. so, please dont just bring in a random reason to qualify greatness. Secondly, cook has defied some of the bowlers who are best in their backyards - ex; Ashwin, Bhajji, Herath.. so please underestimate Cook merely for you blind love to your God