Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2014 Contents A74
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 9, 2014
NOTTINGHAM---England called up wick-
etkeeper Jos Buttler yesterday as cover for
the first test against India after Matt Prior
reported feeling tightness in his right thigh.
Prior began feeling pain on Monday, but
England captain Alastair Cook believes he
will be able to play when the Test begins
on today at Trent Bridge.
"We are 99 percent certain he will be
fine," Cook said. "You have a little check in
the morning just to make sure, but all looks
good at the moment."
Cook can t say the same for his position
in the team. The Sri Lanka series last month
was heralded as a new era for England, but
produced the same old results of late, a loss
at Headingley and a 1-0 series defeat, the
first at home to Sri Lanka.
Despite withering criticism of Cook s
conservative tactics from the likes of former
captains Geoffrey Boycott and Michael
Vaughan, they agreed Cook was still the
man to lead England, and had enough credit
to keep the job. Cook, himself, said he would
not resign from the captaincy, and would
have to be pushed out.
He had support from coach Peter Moores,
plus India coach Duncan Fletcher and cap-
tain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has his
own problems to tend to, but Cook knows
he can answer the critics only with wins
and a deluge of runs.
Since his last century, a record 25th for
England, in May 2013, Cook has gone 24
innings and averaged 25. He denied the cap-
taincy was to blame for his woeful form.
"I can honestly say that it has never
crossed my mind, when someone is running
in at mid-80s to 90 miles per hour, I m
thinking about what field placings I m going
to set for someone else," he said.
Since the defeat at Headingley, he said
he had worked hard to rediscover his batting
touch. He said he also wasn t worried about
losing the captaincy should he fail to score
runs across the five tests against India.
"I m not in charge of making decisions
like that," he said. "It s a huge honor to do
this and I can go to sleep knowing I ve
thrown everything I ve got into it."
England have to decide whether to rein-
troduce allrounder Ben Stokes, who is
returning from a self-inflicted wrist injury.
With Moeen Ali the part-time spin replace-
ment for Graeme Swann, Stokes could
replace Chris Jordan.
England has not won its last seven tests.
India has not won any of its last 14 away
tests, which began with the 4-0 whitewash
in England in 2011.
India has since lost away in South Africa
and New Zealand, its high-scoring batsmen
failing to receive adequate support from a
mediocre bowling attack.
"What is important for us is to take the
team forward," Dhoni said. "(We need) to
give the team guidance. The more games
they play, the more they improve. It is a
There has been progress, and Dhoni
expected the same from Cook.
"It is a difficult phase for him, which
each cricketer has faced," Dhoni said. "It
doesn t matter if your name is one of the
greatest in cricket or not.
"It is a phase he must go through, and
it will only improve him as a cricketer and
make him a better human being." (AP)
LONDON---After being beaten by Sri Lanka
in a Test series on home soil for the first time,
England will look to recover its reputation
with five matches against India. It s the first
five-Test series in 55 years between the two
countries. They will be played quickly, across
42 days, and will shape the futures of players
on both sides.
Here are five things to know going into the
first test match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham,
COOK UNDER PRESSURE: For England cap-
tain Alastair Cook, he simply must get a big
score soon, preferably a century. He has gone
25 innings without reaching three figures and
acknowledged after the defeat against Sri Lanka
that not only his captaincy is in question, but
his place in the team too. "No one has got a
divine right to captain the side or play in the
side if you re not performing," he said. "I am
determined to turn this around."
INDIA SEEKS REVENGE: Three years ago,
the last time India travelled to England for a
Test series, it was thrashed 4-0 and in 2012
England won another four-match series 2-1
on Indian soil. Since then, a 5-0 Ashes defeat
in Australia followed by the 1-0 series defeat
to Sri Lanka mean England look anything but
India will smell blood and look to exploit
its hosts problems. MS Dhoni will be confident
batsmen such as Virat Kohli, an elegant shot-
maker, and Ajinkya Rahane, who likes to play
aggressively, will leave their mark on England.
NO REVIEW: India remains the only crick-
eting nation to refuse DRS, which means this
test series will remove the safety net for umpires
to improve the number of correct decisions.
England would have won the first Test against
Sri Lanka if Nuwan Pradeep had not been able
to challenge the lbw dismissal awarded against
him off the bowling of Stuart Broad, where
replays showed he got a thick inside edge.
BEN STOKES BACK? The performance of
Ben Stokes was one of the few positives England
could take from its Ashes whitewash. He is an
all-rounder, who made 120 in his second Test
appearance and, in a total of four matches for
England, has 15 wickets with best figures of
6-99. The English media expect him to start
today, but who Stokes replaces is a cause for
debate. Liam Plunkett s name has been men-
tioned but the fast bowler took nine wickets
against Sri Lanka at Headingley. Chris Jordan
could drop out but he has shown confidence
with bat and ball. With a potential 25 days of
cricket out of 42 coming up, both teams might
be forced to rotate to avoid fatigue.
ALI AND ASHWIN: Moeen Ali is the closest
England have to a spin bowler at the moment,
but it seems that Cook needs to see more from
him to be truly convinced. ll be encouraged to
see the torment that Sri Lanka s Rangana
Herath put England s batsmen through. Ashwin
averages around five wickets a Test, but 15 of
his 19 appearances have been in India.
Buttler called up as
cover for Prior lineup
England captain Alastair Cook, left, and India captain MS Dhoni pose with the Trophy
during a photocall ahead of the first Test Match between England and India at Trent
Bridge cricket ground, Nottingham, England, yesterday. England start the first Test
against India at Trent Bridge today. AP PHOTO
Rare series for England, India
England's Moeen Ali looks down as he reacts to being given out caught as Sri Lanka's
wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene celebrates the first day of the first test cricket match
between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's cricket ground in London, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Alastair Cook has dealt with high-stakes pres-
sure throughout his professional career and sees
no reason why he cannot do so again this sum-
Cook s England team have failed to win a Test
since last August, and he has gone even longer -
more than a year, and 24 innings - without a
century to add to his all-time national record of
25.An Ashes whitewash, on his watch, and then a
shock series defeat at home to Sri Lanka as England s
much-discussed new era got off on the wrong
foot, have brought Cook s career to a critical point.
He is not arguing otherwise, but at 29 has banked
more than a decade of success in the public eye
and is confident he can up his game again.
Loss and recovery of form is a constant theme
for all batsmen---and as captain too, preparing for
the first of five Investec Tests in 42 days against
India, Cook reasons that current difficulties simply
go with the territory.
He said: "There is always pressure, isn t there?
"It doesn t matter what stage of your career you
are in, you always have it.
"That s the beauty of the job - to see whether
you can handle it or not."
Cook acknowledged after the second Test against
Sri Lanka at Headingley, where James Anderson s
dismissal to the penultimate ball of the match
sealed England s fate, that ultimately others will
decide whether he remains in charge or not.
He stands by that premise, secure in the knowl-
edge he will continue to give everything he can in
the collective cause---starting at Trent Bridge today.
sleep knowing that I ve thrown everything I ve got
into it," he added.
Some pundits are likely to remain on his case,
come what may, and Cook will have to stay thick-
skinned to keep his mind on the job.
"I think you need to be," he said. "I think you
have to be determined and stick to your guns as
Another series defeat would surely put his position
in jeopardy, whatever the mitigation---but Cook is
not ready to consider that eventuality.
He has had a short but precious break since
England lost in Leeds on June 24, and hopes he
has struck the right balance to rediscover that life-
long knack of scoring runs when required.
Cook: I'll handle
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