Applause and adulation is driving on Cook in his last Test, believes Farbrace
ENGLAND are hoping Alastair Cook can ride the wave of public adulation and reward supporters by completing a farewell hundred in his final Test innings at The Oval.
Cook could be excused for being distracted in the 161st Test of his record-breaking career by the due date for his and wife Alice’s third child on day four against India.
But by close of play on day three in this fifth Specsavers Test the stoic opener was showing no signs of anything but his famed determination as he dug out an unbeaten 46 in a second-innings 114-2, which gave England a lead of 154.
At the prospect of veteran Cook matching his age with a 33rd Test century, assistant coach Paul Farbrace’s eyes lit up.
“It’d be fantastic, wouldn’t it?” he said. “It’d be absolutely brilliant.
“I think he’s just enjoying milking all the applause he’s getting. I think it’s just driving him on to bat as long as he possibly can.”
Cook, who made a century on Test debut 12 years ago and has since become England’s all-time record run-scorer, has already banked five standing ovations this week and is assured of at least two more on his way into bat and back out, whatever he achieves in between.
Farbrace added: “He’s shown everything that he’s about so far in this game.
“He’s just got stuck in, and it’s not easy out there, but he looks as though he’s really enjoying the scrap.”
With Cook, even as an expectant father again, Farbrace knows there will be no loss of concentration.
“He’s been pretty calm,” he said. “I’d imagine the reception he got when he went out to bat probably moved him – it moved everybody else in our dressing- room, the fantastic support he’s had. He just seems to cope with everything that’s in front of him.
“As much as we’re going to miss his runs and his catches, I think the calming influence he has among the team, the staff, everybody ... is something we’ll all miss when he’s not in the dressing-room.”
ENGLAND V INDIA FIFTH TEST
ALASTAIR COOK can dream of a 33rd Test century in the final innings of his record-breaking career after steering England to stumps against India at The Oval.
Cook was still battling away unbeaten, on 46, as he so often has throughout his 161 Tests, in a total of 114-2 as England extended their overall lead to 154 after bowling India out for 292.
Home advantage on day three of this fifth Specsavers Test would have been still more substantial without the revival engineered by India’s charismatic allrounder Ravindra Jadeja (86no) and Hanuma Vihari (56).
The tourists resumed on 174-6 and appeared sure to trail significantly until the seventh-wicket pair took their stand to 77, and 132 were added in all for the last four to fall.
As Cook then set out to consolidate, he was cheered and clapped to the middle by his fourth standing ovation of the week here – before a handshake from India captain Virat Kohli as he prepared to take guard.
He soon lost his opening partner Keaton Jennings, in worrying circumstances as the man still expected to try to form the backbone of England innings into this winter and perhaps beyond shouldered arms to Mohammed Shami and lost his offbail.
It was an unedifying end to Jennings’s largely fallow Test summer with the bat, especially after he had earlier dropped the catch at short-leg that reprieved India No 11 Jasprit Bumrah and cost England 32 runs.
Cook spent 26 balls stuck on 13 either side of tea.
But he uncovered occasional fluency, in an unbroken 50 stand with his captain Joe Root after Jadeja had spun one through the gate to bowl Moeen Ali, and there were no major alarms to the close.
As has been the curious case throughout this match so far, bat dominated ball before lunch, thanks to Jadeja and Vihari this time.
James Anderson, still three wickets short of overhauling Australia great Glenn McGrath’s world record of 363 for any pace bowler, drew a blank alongside Stuart Broad.
Debutant Vihari, who would have been lbw for nought to Broad the previous evening if England had gone to DRS, completed his half-century from 104 balls.
It took Jadeja, returning here for his first Test of the series, nine deliveries more and into the afternoon before he cut Moeen for his seventh boundary to reach the same milestone.
Vihari’s dismissal, caughtbehind pushing up the line as Mooen’s arm ball drifted across him, was the only one before lunch.
Ishant Sharma went in near action replay to Moeen in early afternoon, and then Shami got greedy against Adil Rashid and holed out at long-on.
Jadeja would have been left stranded at 260 all out if Jennings had held a sharp catch off bat and pad when Rashid’s googly was too much for Bumrah.
But he did not and Jadeja, who had celebrated his 50 with a trademark swish of his imaginary Rajasthan warrior’s sword, cashed in as the bucca- neering presence in a last-wicket stand.
As Root’s field placings and bowling changes sent out mixed messages, Bumrah faced only 14 out of 54 deliveries – and Jadeja memorably smashed the second new ball straight back over Anderson’s head for six.
India’s fun, and England’s frustration, finally ended when Bumrah was run out chancing a tight single. Then, of course, it was over to Cook – for one last time.
FINAL INNINGS: England’s Alastair Cook attempts a sweep during his last Test innings for his country that will extend into today after he finished 46 not out overnight at The Oval in the fifth and final Test against India.
TAKING A BREAK: England’s Alastair Cook, left, and team-mate Joe Root wait for a new ball to be given to India at The Oval yesterday during their unbroken stand of 50 on day three of the fifth and final Test. England will resume on 114-2 in their second innings.