Evolving Cook looks to Strauss
Alastair Cook is seeking to emulate Andrew Strauss’ evolution into a world-class one-day opening batsman as he takes over a top-order berth in addition to the captaincy.
Although Strauss began his England career in one-day internationals, he established himself in the Test arena before he did in the 50-over game.
Indeed, Strauss lost his ODI place after the 2007 World Cup and returned to the side in similar circumstances to Cook – as skipper and opening batsman.
Strauss’ ODI retirement after this year’s World Cup led to Cook taking charge of a team he last played for 15 months ago. That was in Bangladesh when Cook presided over a 3-0 whitewash while Strauss rested ahead of a hectic year.
Like Strauss before his one-day renaissance, Cook is known as a steady Test accumulator. However, he is confident he is developing his game to match the heights Strauss found over the last two years, epitomised by his ODI-best 158 against India in the World Cup.
“I think he’s a great example for me,” Cook said at the Kia Oval ahead of tomorrow’s first NatWest Series one-day international against Sri Lanka.
“When he first started playing one-day cricket he was striking around 65, maybe 70, and towards the end I think his career strike rate was 80.
“So you can evolve as a player, you can definitely improve and he certainly did that and hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.”
Cook, who has an ODI strike-rate of 71, is rightly encouraged by his achievements on the one-day leg of the tour of Bangladesh when the left-hander scored a total of 156 runs from 172 balls in three innings.
Having overcome a difficult 2010 summer, his Test run-scoring has been prolific – albeit at a pace suitable for the longest form. Now he is ready to prove his one-day critics wrong.
"As an international player you’re always under pressure, you always have to prove yourself and I’m no different now,” he continued.
“I’m excited about that challenge. I think my one-day game has evolved since I last played.
“In Bangladesh I scored runs and I scored them quickly so I know I’ve got the talent and skills to do it. I’ve just got to show the lads that I can do that.”
While out of England’s one-day side, Cook has had been able to develop his limited-overs game for Essex. Although recognising room for improvement, he is ready to put in the hard yards.
“I’m nowhere near the finished article; I’m 26 years old, I’ve got a lot of work to do and I’m prepared to do it,” he said.
Compared to his last ODI, Cook is clear in his mind how far he has come.
“I’m certainly far more experienced, I’ve got a far better understanding of my game and I’m more expansive. There’s certainly no doubt about that,” he added.
As for taking on the ODI captaincy, Cook knows he can again learn from Strauss – like Stuart Broad, the new Twenty20 skipper and other member of England’s triumvirate.
“It’s certainly new. As we said at the time we’re not sure how it’s going to work,” he admitted.
“I think we’ve got two inexperienced leaders to learn of Straussy as well so I think we’re in a really good position.”
As well as benefiting from Strauss’ wisdom, Cook is determined to make his mark on a fresh squad.
He added: “We’re just focusing on a very talented squad, a very exciting squad and also a very young squad, looking around when I arrived yesterday, and that’s a good place for a captain to start.”
England’s party was boosted today by the addition of all-rounder Tim Bresnan, who has recovered from a calf strain which ruled him out of the npower Test series versus Sri Lanka.
Bresnan was England’s standout seamer at the World Cup and Cook is delighted to have him back.
“We always had the intention that he would come back when he was fit and we wanted him to play for Yorkshire to make sure he was fully fit and there wasn’t any risk with him,” Cook revealed.
“I saw him a couple of days ago and he looks in good shape. To have a proven quality bowler come back into the side fit is great.”