Cook seeks to complete century set
Alastair Cook stands on the verge of yet another Test batting landmark as he prepares to lead England in New Zealand.
Cook is vying to become the second England player to make hundreds versus all Test-playing nations he has faced, following in the footsteps of team-mate Ian Bell, and could have 10 attempts at the landmark over the next four months.
Cook is set to lead his country for three Tests in New Zealand next month before the Black Caps come to England for two more during May. Besides New Zealand, he - like Bell - is lacking a Test century only against Zimbabwe, whom neither have played against.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Cook - whose England record 23rd Test ton came versus India in December - said of the Black Caps: "I've played six Test matches against them and haven't managed to do it. Hopefully I can get a bit of form on the tour and put that right.
"That would be nice. There are a few people who have done it and it would be nice to do it, but more importantly you are scoring runs to hopefully set up an England win, which would be even better.”
Having led England in India from late October to late January with only a short impasse for Christmas and New Year, Cook has been enjoying a brief break before this weekend heading to New Zealand for three one-day internationals this month.
The 28-year-old opening batsman, who oversaw England’s first Test series win in India for almost 28 years, has been helping on his wife Alice’s family farm in Bedfordshire.
“It's always great to come home and it breaks up three months of touring quite nicely,” he added. “I'm looking forward to going to New Zealand now and playing some good cricket over there.
“It's pretty mad at home as well; we're just starting to go into lambing so there's always something to do. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I like the total contrast I have in my life and I think it's quite a healthy balance.
“I think it has worked well for me throughout my career, being able to park cricket and get away from it on the farm. When you come back to cricket you're ready to go again and you're ready to try your best to improve.
“That mantra of always getting better - you bring that to a cricket ground rather than sitting at home worrying about it.”
Cook is also seeking his first ODI hundred versus New Zealand, having faced them six times in that format - all in 2008.
Given the Black Caps have just defeated South Africa while England lost to India, he will not underestimate them as a batsman or skipper.
“New Zealand are a dangerous side. They have always done well in World Cups and in their last series they beat South Africa away, which proves they're a very good one-day team. We're going to have to be at our best to have a chance of beating them,” he said.
“We can take a lot of confidence out of our one-day cricket over the last two years; when we do play well we're a match for anyone. The trick is getting to that standard consistently.
“In that India tour, in totally different conditions, when we played well India struggled to stay with us. We just didn't do it for long enough periods.
“Hopefully in New Zealand, in conditions we're more used to, we've got a chance, but New Zealand are a very dangerous side and if we don't play well we'll get punished.
“In one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket especially, one player can win a game on their own in a very short period of time. We've got players who have done that to the opposition and that's what makes it exciting.
“It's going to be a hell of a battle. We've got to stand up and play as well as we know we can.”