New dad Cook re­turns to break Eng­land record in Bangladesh Test

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

ALASTAIR Cook will be­come Eng­land’s most capped Test crick­eter to­mor­row when he leads his coun­try into bat­tle for a series 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 earn 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 coun­try for­merly known as 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 pre­par­ing with his team­mates in Bangladesh be­fore fly­ing back home last week for the birth of his sec­ond daugh­ter.

But af­ter ar­riv­ing back in Bangladesh on Oc­to­ber 17, Cook took part in nets on yes­ter­day at Chit­tagong’s MA Aziz Sta­dium as he looks to add to his for­mi­da­ble record on the spin­ning tracks of the In­dian sub-con­ti­nent.

The 31-year-old’s last out­ing to 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.

“The amount of cricket that Cooky’s played in the sub­con­ti­nent, I think he’ll fit back in seam­lessly,” Eng­land fast bowler Steve Finn told re­porters in Chit­tagong af­ter the fi­nal warm-up match.

“I think you’d be a bit wor­ried if it was some­one who was less ex­pe­ri­enced, I sup­pose, and hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced these con­di­tions be­fore and spent time in the mid­dle, be­cause that’s im­por­tant.”

Cook, who will over­take Alec Ste­wart at the top of the list for most 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.

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 half­cen­tury 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 Eng­land bats­man Ge­of­frey Boy­cott.

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

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

Bangladesh has 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 is 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.

Eng­land will af­ter­ward travel to In­dia for a five-Test tour. –

Photo: AFP

Eng­land cricket cap­tain Alastair Cook takes part in a prac­tice ses­sion in Chit­tagong on Oc­to­ber 18 ahead of the first Test match against Bangladesh to­mor­row.

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