Early mornings pay off for Cook
Alastair Cook reflected on a week of hard work after scoring a “crucial” hundred in England’s penultimate warm-up game ahead of the Ashes.
The left-hander followed captain Andrew Strauss to three figures on the final day of the drawn tour match against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval.
For fellow opener Strauss, it represented a second century in as many games. Cook, on the other hand, was relieved to banish the memory of a poor return in the opening match against Western Australia and find some timely form.
He followed up his first-innings 32 with a fluent unbeaten 111 in England’s second-innings total of 240 for one declared, before rain ended their hopes of pushing for a second successive win.
“Perth didn’t go that well - I didn’t play very well,” Cook told ecb.co.uk/video, casting his mind back to scores of five and nine at the WACA last week.
“It was crucial this week that I spent some time in the middle. I did that in the first innings and it was pleasing today that I made the most of my hard work. Getting a start in the game, I wanted to get a hundred.”
Cook’s upturn in fortunes represented just reward for his attitude in the lead-up to this three-day encounter, and also owed more than a little to the input of team director Andy Flower.
A former team-mate of Cook at Essex, Flower’s calm and authoritative stewardship has been central to England’s success in the last 18 months, and his unassuming approach has won the admiration of Cook.
“I put the hard yards in,” Cook added. “I was in early all week in the morning, hitting the ball and trying to get that rhythm and tempo back in my batting.
“I found that a little bit today. Hopefully I can take that on to Australia A next week.
“Andy knows what it’s like when you don’t score runs one week. He’s keen to let you find your way and he’s there for a bit of support as well.
“He’s changed a lot (since Essex). We used to sit next to each other in a changing room and now he’s head coach of England - it’s mad.
“He’s done a fantastic job. He deserves a lot of the credit that he’s getting at the moment.”
During the post-match press conference Strauss took seemingly as much pleasure from Cook’s resurgence as his own consistently splendid form.
He also revealed his delight at the positive impression England have made in the early stages of the tour, which has not always been the case in the past.
“It’s been an excellent start,” Strauss told ecb.co.uk/video. “We haven’t had everything our own way in these first two games but we’ve had a lot of positives to take out of them.
“(There have been) some runs for most of the batsmen; the bowlers have done a good job consistently - so we’ve got most bases covered at the moment.
“The key is to continue the progression upwards in the final game against Australia A before the Ashes.”