ICC Combined XI v England XI, Dubai, 2nd day January 8, 2012

Batsmen are rusty - Cook

ESPNcricinfo staff

Alastair Cook admitted England's batsmen hadn't started their time in UAE as they'd hoped but wasn't overly concerned despite an unconvincing display against an ICC Combined XI in Dubai. Cook top-scored with 76 but no one else reached 20 as England struggled to 185 for 8 before Andrew Strauss declared.

For Cook it was his first competitive innings since the one-day series against India in October but for some of his team-mates, notably Strauss and Eoin Morgan, it has been much longer. Strauss last played in mid-September while Morgan suffered a shoulder injury at the start of the home one-day series against India.

"It wasn't ideal," Cook said. "I think we have to put that down to a little bit of rustiness. But credit to the opposition, especially Boyd [Rankin]. I thought he bowled very, very well. I think when you haven't batted outside for probably four months, with whites and a red ball, it does take a while to get into that rhythm. But it's not the end of the world."

However, Cook suggested that even if the top order had fired during the first two sessions, a declaration would have still been part of England's plan to keep the game open.

"I think, if we'd batted better, we still would have pulled out to set up a game. One of [coach] Andy Flower's big things is to try and win these preparation games to make them competitive for us," he said. "They do lack that intensity of Test cricket, of course. But we try to get as much competitive cricket into us as possible, so that when we come to the first morning of that Test match we're ready for it."

It has been a busy time of late for Cook who, while now concentrating on opening the batting for England, got married on New Year's Eve and joined the tour 36 hours later than his team-mates after being granted brief leave by the ECB.

"It was an amazing day - a bit too short with the celebrations afterwards," he said. "Thirty-six hours can't really be allowed to constitute a honeymoon. I hope at some stage in the next 12 months we'll get to go away. But it was very kind of the ECB to give me that time."

Meanwhile Boyd Rankin, who removed Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell during the afternoon session, knows that such performances can't do him any harm with a view to furthering his England ambitions. After this match he will join the Lions squad in Bangladesh and has gained good reviews on the county circuit for Warwickshire.

"Hopefully I've done myself a few favours and shown what I can do," he said. "It is a pretty flat pitch and I'm actually surprised how many wickets have fallen. We had plans against all the batsmen and we did well to put them under pressure. Hopefully we can get a few more runs in the morning and then we'll be confident of bowling them out."

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  • Paul on January 10, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Dave Rothery on (January 09 2012, 06:45 AM GMT) said;" People should remember that Ireland is part of the UK". Er, no, it has not been part of the UK for around 90 years, except for the 6 counties of Northern Ireland.

  • Mayan on January 10, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Excellent comment there jmcilhinney! Yes, these poor Ausie fans . . . They are still dreaming of Australian glory on the cricket field and to be fair . . . they do get it right from time to time, but so do just about every other international cricket team these days, even Sri Lanka. I cannot remember a time when the international test cricket field has been more equal than the present. Pakistan is making a surge for that no. 4 spot on the ICC test rankings, very likely even no. 3, Australia is also going for no.3, the Proteas is searching for no.2 and the English will be determined to ward off all of these to retain the no. 1 spot. Where India is heading is difficult to say, no. 4 perhaps?

  • j on January 9, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    So England are warming up. But still winning as they warm up. And won a three day game during which Anderson and Broad proved lethal with the new ball: on the kind of pitch where you'd be lucky if a 90 mph ball gets above waist height. Oh the critics keep getting proved wrong, let's raise another glass to that shall we? :)

  • John on January 9, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    Too many silly comms to respond to this time. As I type this England have just won but we admit they do need to up their game - batting in particular

  • John on January 9, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    @Yougander Reddy on (January 09 2012, 08:59 AM GMT) - A challenge for you. This involves a little research. Show me one post from the last month or so where an English fan has said or intimated that we're already up there with those dominating WI and Aus teams from yesteryear. If you manage to do this , quoting the subject title , date/time and person who posted this , then I will bow down to your opinion. The thing is that there have been no such posts on here from England fans. Obviously we can't control the media if they get a little carried away but even then those who have backed England have said I think they can dominate for years to come. Notice the word Can. I have challenged others who have made similar comms to show me the evidence and no one has responded. The ball's in your court.

  • John on January 9, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (January 08 2012, 19:15 PM GMT) - Agree it would be nice for these teams to play test cricket etc. However , maybe it is not financially viable. Afghanistan playing OD cricket or T20 cricket against the bigger nations would certainly be progress but I'm guessing Afghan would have to travel as I'd think it would be a security issue to tour there.

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Once again I have been disappointed by poor batting by Porterfield... I think he should be demoted in the batting order to give way for a player like Shahzad, who is doing very, very well in the middle order...

  • John on January 9, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    @joseyesu, people keep saying that the current England team aren't great like the Aust and WI teams of the past like that means that they're not worthy of being #1. No reasonable England fan is claiming greatness but they have proven to be better than everyone else over the last year or so and that entitles them to the prestige of being #1. Does the winner of a race not deserve the win if it's only by a small margin?

  • Randolph on January 9, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    Swann! Another failure! Haha, no talent left in England. Might be time to get that poachers gun out again!

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    Biggest joke is people are comparing this english test team with mighty aussie attack of late 90's and 2007 .haha this english team cant win a series in india,pak and sl and that tym aussie team contained all australian players not by importing players frm sa ,ireland etc i know why icc is not giving ireland a test status becoz icc is located and contains many ppl frm england they dont want to lose the previlige of poaching irish players and other minnow teams. If they feed on all irish plqyers like this tgen how will ireland prosper ?? Morgan,rankin,dockrell !! Hope rankin stays with ireland .come on england trust ur english blood rather than eating on minnows.and dont the english county players feel envy that their spots are being taken away by foreigners !!

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