‘We are ready for Pak­istan’, says Cook af­ter Sri Lanka rout

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LON­DON—Eng­land cap­tain Alas­tair Cook said he was look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of fac­ing Pak­istan fol­low­ing his side’s com­mand­ing Test se­ries win over Sri Lanka.

Rain meant only 12.2 overs were pos­si­ble at Lord’s as the third Test ended in a draw.

But al­though de­nied a white­wash, Eng­land had al­ready done enough to se­cure a 2-0 se­ries win af­ter dom­i­nant vic­to­ries by an in­nings and 88 runs and nine wick­ets over the Lankans at Leeds and Ch­ester-le-Street re­spec­tively.

Eng­land now hold Test se­ries tro­phies against ev­ery other ma­jor in­ter­na­tional side ex­cept Pak­istan, who beat Cook’s men 21 in a three-match se­ries in the United Arab Emi­rates in Novem­ber last year.

How­ever, they will have a chance to put that right when they face Pak­istan in a four-Test se­ries start­ing at Lord’s on July 14.

“They’ve got a very good (pace) at­tack, backed up with spin­ners,” Cook said of Pak­istan.

“We’re ready for them. We scored a lot of runs against Aus­tralia’s at­tack here last year — I think it’s go­ing to be a bril­liant se­ries.”

While Test spe­cial­ist Cook pre­pares for Pak­istan, wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow will be look­ing to take his red­ball form into the in­ter­ven­ing five one-day in­ter­na­tion­als against Sri Lanka.

Bairstow’s re­call into Eng­land’s oneday squad was an­nounced just as he was be­ing con­firmed as both man-of-the-match at Lord’s and the hosts’ over­all man of the Test se­ries too.

His 167 not out in the first in­nings at Lord’s was his Test-best score and came amidst a se­ries scor­ing-spree that saw Bairstow to­tal 387 runs at an av­er­age of 129, with the York­shire­man also hold­ing 19 catches be­hind the stumps.

To­gether with James An­der­son, who took 21 wick­ets at a stun­ningly low av­er­age of 10.80, Bairstow was the cen­tral fig­ure of the se­ries.

Bairstow re­peat­edly helped Eng­land re­cover from top-or­der col­lapses against Sri Lanka and Cook likened his con­tri­bu­tion to that of re­tired for­mer Eng­land wicket-keeper Matt Prior.

“He’s very sim­i­lar to Matt Prior... when he was at his best, we could of­ten be 100 for five and he’d change the mo­men­tum,” ex­plained Cook.

Prior’s wicket-keeping came un­der in­tense scru­tiny early in his ca­reer, es­pe­cially as Eng­land •— be it Alan Knott, Bob Taylor or Jack Rus­sell — have long prided them­selves on their glove­men.

Bairstow, him­self the son of the late for­mer York­shire and Eng­land wick­et­keeper David Bairstow, also found his work in the field be­ing called into ques­tion af­ter he floored a cou­ple of seem­ingly straight­for­ward chances against Sri Lanka.

“Jonny is en­joy­ing both roles,” said Cook.

“He knows how hard he has to work at his keeping — that is a con­ver­sa­tion we do have,” added the cap­tain, who has been able to ob­serve Bairstow’s work closely from his po­si­tion at first slip.

Bairstow, mean­while, was pleased at main­tain­ing the form he showed in South Africa, where his 150 not out in Cape Town in Jan­uary gave him a maiden Test cen­tury.

“Off the back of South Africa, it was im­por­tant to start the sum­mer well,” he said.

“I hope this is just the start of some­thing that will be special for a while.”

For Sri Lanka cap­tain An­gelo Mathews, the hope is his side, hav­ing had time to ad­just to English con­di­tions, will raise their game in the white-ball for­mats.

How­ever, the all-rounder ac­cepted Eng­land were a much im­proved one-day team from the side that Sri Lanka thrashed by nine wick­ets at last year’s World Cup in Welling­ton.

“They play pos­i­tive cricket and you have got to be on your toes and re­ally good to beat Eng­land in the ODI se­ries that’s com­ing up,” Mathews said.—AFP

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