Cook expects batsmen to shine
Alastair Cook put on a superb one-man show on day two of England’s first warm-up match in Sri Lanka but backed his team-mates to come good in time for the Test series.
England’s top order has been prolific over the last two years yet faltered in the 3-0 Test defeat against Pakistan, prompting some concerns over their technique against spin bowling.
Today’s innings against a Sri Lankan Board XI was the first chance for them to show they had ironed out any flaws and Cook - who batted through the entire day's play in gruelling heat and humidity for 163 not out - provided an unequivocal answer.
Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen both shone in flashes before being trapped lbw to slow bowlers, though Ian Bell and Matt Prior made ducks.
Ravi Bopara and Jonathan Trott both fell in the teens, meaning Cook’s was by far the dominant contribution to England's score of 303 for eight - a lead of 134.
“To get 300 in a day is a great effort from the team. Today was my day to carry on and I'm sure some other people are disappointed it wasn't their turn,” he said.
“With Ravi's shot, we were trying to push on then. We can only bat 100 overs in the first innings so we were trying to score at four an over, which is tough with a long outfield and a ball that was pretty soft by the end.
“With Belly, you can always miss one early doors. He’s a world-class player. His record over 18 months is that of a world-class player. He had a poor series in Abu Dhabi but I’d expect him to bounce back and I’m sure he will do.
“And Straussy spent a couple of hours out there and hit some nice shots too. It’s a flat wicket and it doesn’t spin too much but it was quite hard to score quickly with the outfield. It’s a grind, that’s what happens in these conditions.”
Cook was pleased to get plenty of time at the wicket ahead of the two-match Test series, despite the fact he had been back in England for little more than week after the trip to the United Arab Emirates.
He feels the Sri Lankan conditions are different to those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and was glad to gain more experience of them.
“For 10 days, it was great to be at home but it was a very quick turnaround so you don't really switch off,” he said.
“You can net as much as you want but you need to get the rhythm of playing in the sub-continent. To spend all day out there and score runs was pleasing for me.
“It’s going to be warm for the next month, let’s be honest, and we need to manage that as a side. But if we manage the heat well and don’t play good cricket we won’t win the series.
“First and foremost we must forget about the heat and play the best cricket we can, then we manage our energy.”