New dad Cook re­turns to break Eng­land record

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

CHITTAGONG: Proud new fa­ther Alas­tair Cook will be­come Eng­land’s most capped Test crick­eter to­mor­row when he leads his coun­try into bat­tle against Bangladesh, only days after at­tend­ing his daugh­ter’s birth back home. Cook, widely tipped even­tu­ally to be­come Test cricket’s high­est run-scorer, will win his 134th cap at the start in Chittagong of a two-match se­ries in which Eng­land will hope to main­tain a per­fect Test record against the hosts. Along with Aus­tralia, Eng­land are one of only two teams to have won all of their Test matches against Bangladesh since the for­mer East Pak­istan joined cricket’s top ta­ble 16 years ago.

And after an im­pres­sive vic­tory in the pre­ced­ing one-day se­ries, Eng­land will fancy their chances of ex­tend­ing that 100 per­cent record with the likes of Cook and fast bowler Stu­art Broad back in the mix. Cook, who no longer plays ODI cricket, had been ac­cli­ma­tis­ing with his team­mates in Bangladesh be­fore flying home last week for the birth of his sec­ond daugh­ter. After ar­riv­ing back in Bangladesh Mon­day, Cook took part in nets on Tuesday and then spoke of his pride at be­com­ing a fa­ther again as well as his mixed emo­tions at re­turn­ing to the fray so soon.

“Yeah it was a proud day... as you can imag­ine, hav­ing an­other daugh­ter and then leav­ing so soon af­ter­wards doesn’t make you feel like the best hus­band or fa­ther in the world,” he told Bri­tain’s Sky Sports.

“I do feel okay, now it’s just about ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion to the heat... it’s a hell of a chal­lenge play­ing in th­ese con­di­tions so re­spect to Bangladesh and also the guys in the Eng­land squad. You can’t just ex­pect to turn up and play and do well, you’ve got to put those hard yards in.” The 31-year-old’s last out­ing in the sub-con­ti­nent saw him lead Eng­land to an out­stand­ing se­ries win over In­dia in 2012, while he scored 173 on his only pre­vi­ous Test in Chittagong in 2010. That se­ries saw Cook cap­tain Eng­land for the first time be­fore he took over full-time from An­drew Strauss.

“I started how­ever many years ago and you never thought you’d get any­where near, so to break the record like that is very spe­cial,” he said. Cook, who will over­take Alec Ste­wart at the top of the list of Test ap­pear­ances, could well be joined at the top of the or­der by a debu­tant after Ben Duck­ett and Haseeb Hameed both made strong cases for a call-up. His most re­cent open­ing part­ner Alex Hales has de­cided to sit out the tour for se­cu­rity rea­sons, fol­low­ing the lead set by Eng­land’s limited-overs cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan.

‘BABY BOY­COTT’

The 22-year-old Duck­ett in par­tic­u­lar has im­pressed in the build-up to the se­ries and will most likely get the call after notch­ing up his fourth half cen­tury in the last five in­nings in the fi­nal warm-up match. But he will be vy­ing for a place with 19-year-old Hameed, who has been dubbed “Baby Boy­cott” for an ob­du­rate style that has evoked memories of the leg­endary Ge­of­frey Boy­cott.

At the other end of the age scale, the 39year-old spin­ner Gareth Batty could also find him­self back in the start­ing XI more than 11 years after the last of his seven Tests.

The vet­eran Sur­rey off­break bowler is widely ex­pected to be picked along with legspin­ner Adil Rashid and all-rounder Moeen Ali, to give Eng­land three spin­ning op­tions.

Bangladesh have picked four spin­ners and just two seam­ers in their 14-man squad as they try and over­come the loss of their star pace bowler Mustafizur Rah­man, who is re­cu­per­at­ing from surgery on his shoul­der. Although Bangladesh are a vastly im­proved ODI side, they are strug­gling to com­pete against the best in Test matches and their coach Chandika Hathu­rus­inghe has ac­knowl­edged a lack of qual­ity bowlers.

“We haven’t got our right com­bi­na­tion in Test cricket. I have been fight­ing to find bowlers who can get 20 wick­ets in Tests,” Hathu­rus­inghe told re­porters in Chittagong.

After the match in Chittagong, the teams will head to Dhaka for the sec­ond and fi­nal Test be­gin­ning on Oc­to­ber 28. — AFP

Alas­tair Cook

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