Cook leans on a legend
England opener Alastair Cook will turn to a familiar friend as he attempts to locate his best form for the remainder of the npower Test series against Pakistan.
The left-hander was among a host of batsmen to struggle at Trent Bridge in conditions ideally suited to seam bowling.
While James Anderson was routing Pakistan en route to Test-best figures of 11-71, Cook was left to reflect on a combined tally of 20 runs in the game, his first outing for England since May.
He has mustered just 123 runs in six Test innings this summer, the majority of which has been spent on county duty with Essex after he was deemed surplus to England’s one-day requirements.
Cook, amongst the most mature of 25-year-olds, is phlegmatic enough to know the perils of facing the new ball, and is not about to shun the methods which have yielded 4,217 runs at an average of 43.47 in 57 Tests.
Central to that is Graham Gooch, the former England batsman who has coached Cook for many a year at Essex and now England, and continues to serve as his mentor.
“Goochy is important to me,” said Cook of the man who was once the leading run-scorer in Tests, with 8,900 at 42.58 in a career which coincided with those of many of the game's greatest bowlers.
“He’s such a good guy to have in my corner, to have that experience. He’s been through a whole Test career spanning 20-odd years, so he’s seen everything.
“Goochy is the same with me whether I score a hundred or whether I score nought. Not to see him panicking is nice. He’s a good friend and a good mentor.”
Gooch was on hand last week before the first Test and it is a fair bet he will be called upon again as Cook searches for the sort of form that brought him decisive centuries in each of the two Tests in Bangladesh earlier this year.
“I can name numerous examples, but I wanted to have a hit before the first Test,” Cook revealed. “He wasn’t due to meet the team until 7pm, but I rang him and he came up to Loughborough a couple of hours early so I could practice.
“We’ve got a very honest relationship in terms of my batting. He doesn’t say too much; he’s just constantly reminding me of exactly what I need to do.”
England team director Andy Flower appears untroubled by Cook’s lean spell, insisting: “The series is only one Test old, and Alastair has a great record of performing under pressure. I expect him to do that in the coming games.”
Cook is similarly unperturbed. Indeed, he is adamant he will sleep well on the eve of the second Test at Edgbaston, which gets under way on Friday.
“I never have cold sweats about anything,” he said. “But if you wake up like that or feel intimidated by whoever you play against, then you’re not going to perform.
“Every game you play you have to score runs. Otherwise, questions start to get asked and you feel slightly under pressure.
“Statistics aren’t the be-all and end-all, and there’s always room for improvement, but my overall record in Test cricket is a decent one.
“I want to score hundreds and win games for England - that’s always been the case.”
It is a mantra which could quite easily be applied to Gooch's career.