Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day November 29, 2010

Strauss lauds Cook's 'special innings'


Andrew Strauss praised Alastair Cook's double-century as one of the greatest innings in Ashes history, as England closed out the first Test with a monumental batting performance on the final day at the Gabba. In front of a paltry crowd of 7088 that reflected the dispirited nature of Australia's cricketers, Cook trumped his opening stand of 188 with Strauss by adding an unbeaten 329 for the second wicket with Jonathan Trott, to finish unbeaten on 235 out of a massive team total of 517 for 1 declared.

All told, Cook batted for almost 15-and-a-half hours in the course of the match, including a 10-and-a-half hour epic in the second innings. In so doing he became only the sixth English double-centurion in Tests in Australia, and the first since Paul Collingwood made 206 at Adelaide in 2006. Wally Hammond, on three occasions, and RE Foster, who made 287 in 1903, are the only other individuals to have achieved such a feat, but Strauss believed his team-mate deserved to be bracketed alongside them.

"I'm not great on cricketing history, but you'd be hard-pressed to think of a better innings in Australia," said Strauss. "It must be a long time ago that a player batted as well as Cooky did, with the concentration to see it through for such a long time. It's one of the really special innings from an England player."

A host of records tumbled in the course of the day, including Donald Bradman's highest score of 226 at the Gabba, and the highest partnership for any England wicket in Australia. But all that mattered to England at the close was that they had rescued the Test from a precarious situation at the close of the third day, having conceded a first-innings deficit of 221 following a 307-run stand between Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin.

"It's just great we came back into the game, managed to get a draw and finished so strongly," said Strauss. "There's not a long turnaround before Adelaide and both sets of players will be keen to come out strong on the first morning. Everyone talks about how important the first Test is against Australia in Brisbane, so to get through that unscathed from the position we were in is a great effort, although clearly we would've wanted to win the game."

Cook, for his part, was simply focussed on extending his stay for as long as possible. "We didn't know about the records, so Trotty and I might have to start digging to see what we have achieved," he said. "It's been a fantastic couple of days. The pitch was amazing to bat on and got better and better, but you still have to go and get them."

With a quick turnaround ahead of Adelaide, and Australia already telegraphing changes to their starting line-up by drafting in two extra pacemen in Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris, England have plenty reason to believe they've got their opponents on the ropes. "It's all this momentum chat again," said Strauss. "I don't know who takes the momentum, [but] we take a huge amount.

"We did some very good things with the ball - some of our bowlers weren't rewarded for quite how well they bowled - but also the resilience to come back into the game. We were in a pretty dire position after day three, so it speaks volumes for the characters of Cooky and Trotty. We've proved over a while we're a hard side to beat and it gives us more confidence."

Cook's confidence could hardly be higher following his indomitable efforts, and yet it wasn't so long ago that he was scratching around at the top of England's order, and restricted to 100 runs in home Tests last summer before saving his immediate place in the side with a gutsy century against Pakistan at The Oval.

"It's cricket," he said, by way of explanation. "It's amazing how quickly it turns round. If you keep working at the right things and keep believing you're a good player, you get your results. The dark days against Pakistan make these extra special. The hundred at The Oval was a great confidence [boost] and to back it up here is very pleasing."

Had Cook been permitted to bat through to the close, there would have been the prospect of an even bigger innings, but Strauss believed that it was only right to get Australia back into the field to face an awkward final session against a well-rested bowling attack. "Even though there was a very small chance of forcing a win, it was worth trying," he said. "To get a few wickets on the way would've been a bit of a psychological blow. If there was even an outside chance of forcing a win, we should try and do it.

Although the early wicket of Simon Katich gave them the prospect of further breakthroughs, Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson took Australia through to 107 for 1 at the close. "It was very flat on the fifth day and we weren't a force much with the ball but we're happy with where we are and we look forward to Adelaide. Hopefully we can win the toss in Adelaide and we'll see how things progress from there."

However, just as England insisted that their impressive start to the tour would count for nothing come the Test series, so Cook was quick to point out that his success at the Gabba was similarly in the past. "We start quickly on Friday so hopefully I can start again in Adelaide," he said. "I've not changed a huge amount technically. A bit between the second and third Tests against Pakistan, I changed a bit to what I'd been doing before, but not a huge amount and it just shows what a mental game opening is."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • al on November 30, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    I enjoyed Sachin's 248 more. This was okay.

  • Sisnaraine on November 30, 2010, 19:11 GMT


    S.N.SINGH U S A.

  • sri on November 30, 2010, 17:56 GMT

    @ TheHoneymonster Agreed with you. His 200 came when it was most needed . After the end of third day no body knew the pitch would become that 'flat' and Aussies dominated those 3 days and there was definitely some pressure on England openers. But this cannot be rated as the best in Ashes as other batsmen too enjoyed scoring here. I would rate ponting's 154 in that drawn game in 2005 highly than this double ton coz he tried everything till the end to secure a draw.

  • Samuel on November 30, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    It was a great innings, despite people attempting to belittle it. The pitch was flat and the attack not great, but a double hundred still requires concentration, and people seem to forget that many a side has collapsed on a supposedly good pitch when they are so far behind in the game. Even on a flat track, 517-1 is a rare scoreline indeed. Take into account it's the Ashes too - no matter what people are saying that these are two middling sides (which they are) and that SA/India will be better (not sure about that myself - I'd back that to be a run feast as well, with India's batting and their own middling seamers against Amla and co), the pressure on the players from both the media and the fans is massive, so it takes considerable guts to go out there and perform.

  • Worrell on November 30, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    aniketranade - Finn also took six wickets. I am sure you would have complained if Finn was MOM. Cook performed in both innings, survived 63 out of the 77 overs scoring 67 runs, and not out in the 2nd innings.

  • toby on November 30, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    Oh Dear! Just as well these posts are anonymous - if I was CustomKid I think I might be a little embarrassed by such a hasty outburst. By no stretch of the imagination could any of these centuries be categorised as second-rate, and a five-day test being possibly the most cerebral and elegant of all sports, if he/she can't enjoy some wonderful play by both sides, what can I say? And while at the end of the day it may only be the result that is remembered, it is still the conduct of play - a wonderful near-yorker dug out at the very last moment or a glorious off-drive picked up by a despairing dive - that keeps us enthralled; and, like most people and for just that reason one should be able to derive as much pleasure from a loss as as a win...

  • diren on November 30, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    yawn yawn yawn,....ashes is just hype!!! The real series of the summer is starting soon...16th December....South Africa V India..........cant wait

  • Worrell on November 30, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    AkshayKatiyar So u feel collinwood could not handle the pressure. Did he not score 206 in 2006?

  • Worrell on November 30, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    CustomKid Strauss was referring to english batsmen. And he is not ahea of himself considering Australia's bowling attack, which is 50% effective compared to a couple of years ago. England could win the ashes, Ozzies are fighting it. Wake up man.

  • Aniket on November 30, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    Man of the Match announcement was the real tragedy! Can anyone gets stats on how many Batsmen have scored a double hundred in the last year...vs How many Pace bowlers have taken 6 wickets on the opening day...and a Hat trick to boot! A lot of people whine about how pitches are not bowler friendly.....But people running the game are No Better!

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