Captain Cook sets out to keep course
Alastair Cook hopes he does not change when he plays his first Test as permanent captain tomorrow.
Cook has succeeded Andrew Strauss, who retired from professional cricket soon after England’s last five-day engagement, having been deputy to his former opening partner.
The Essex player has twice been Test skipper - on the early 2010 tour of Bangladesh when Strauss was rested. He has also held the one-day international captaincy, previously occupied by Strauss, for 18 months.
Having played in two of England’s three warm-up games in India, Cook has been reminded of what it is lead in first-class cricket ahead of the opening Test of four at Ahmedabad.
“It clearly does change things in the dressing room,” he said. “When you’re in a position of responsibility you think about things in a slightly different way and have different things on your agenda. But I hope I don’t change.
“I feel a mixture of everything. Obviously, I’m a bit excited about what’s going to happen, and a little bit nervous, but the overwhelming emotion is that I am very proud to be leading England.”
The 27-year-old is not taking his new role, in which he wants to be true to himself, for granted.
“I’m just going to try to do the best job I can, for however long I’m lucky enough to do it,” he added. “You can’t change who you are, the type of bloke you are, and you’ve got to be authentic to who you are.”
While Strauss is no longer around, Cook can take heart from still having team director Andy Flower alongside him.
“One of his best qualities is he’s very, very strong-willed and knows what he wants,” Cook said of Flower. “The players are conscious that there are no grey areas.”
Cook’s tourists feel well-prepared thanks to their warm-up matches, all of which were drawn.
“Looking at this tour we said we wanted to have as much practice as we could to get used to the conditions and it’s the first time since I’ve been to the sub-continent we’ve had three warm-up games,” he added.
“And it’s given us the chance not just to play the XI that we think is going to play in the first game. It’s given everyone an opportunity to get used to the conditions because we know how important the squad is, so on that front we’ve been really well prepared.
“Clearly we would like to have faced some more quality spinners out in the middle, but we can’t control that and what we have had available is we’ve had some excellent spinners bowling in the nets.”
If restricting England’s exposure to frontline spin has been India’s policy, Cook reminded the hosts that they have much to do to reverse last year’s whitewash as their public expects.
“There’s a lot of pressure, especially here in India, on the home team,” he said. “But one thing they seem to have done over the years is cope with that. They have an excellent home record. So history says they can deal with pressure. Our job is to put them under some pressure.
“We are ready - that’s part of the reason we came out for three-and-a-half weeks, to be ready. The proof of the pudding will be over these next four Test matches.”