Alastair Cook created a bit of history on the final day of the Rajkot Test against India as he notched up his 30th Test century, in the process, going past Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman’s mark of 29 Test centuries.
Set an improbable target of 310 to chase in two sessions, India were 172 for six when the two captains shook hands in the 53rd over to end a gripping day’s play. (HIGHLIGHTS )
Not only did this knock cement Cook’s class, it also enhanced his reputation as one of the best batsmen in the Asian sub-continent. This was Cook’s sixth hundred against India and remarkably, five of them have come in India.
Cook, who made his debut in the 2006 Test against India in Nagpur, started off with a bang by scoring a century on debut. However, in the 2012 series, he reached his zenith by scoring three centuries in the first three Tests to give England their first series win in India since 1984. In the Rajkot Test, he notched up his fifth ton in India
The England skipper joined an elite club with this century in Rajkot. He joined Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge and Matthew Hayden as the other batsmen who have scored over 1000 runs in Tests in India. Lloyd is leading the pack with 1359 runs in 14 Tests. The former West Indies skipper also has the best average, with Cook in second position
Lord of the Sub-continent
During the period of the early 2000s, the proving ground for most batsmen in the world would be Australia as they were the best team in the world. With the decline of the Australian dominance, the focus has now shifted to the sub-continent and their spinning tracks. Any batsman who combats spin on dustbowls and on sluggish surfaces competently is considered an all-round player.
In this regards, in the modern era where visiting teams struggle to combat spin in the Middle East, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, Cook stands tall and is miles apart from even the best Asian batsmen.
If one looks at a 10-year period, the England skipper is miles ahead than the best Asian batsmen.*
While Cook has scored the most runs in that period, he also has scored the most centuries, indicating his big appetite for runs. Only Kumar Sangakkara has a better average (67.05) as compared to Cook.
* Period is from 2006, when Cook made his debut.
Better as Captain
While leading from the front, a batsman often loses form with the bat. In the sub-continent, the inability of players from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to tackle spin is exposed ruthlessly.
It is not the case with Cook. The England skipper leads the chart when it comes to scoring runs as a skipper in the sub-continent. *
As the graphic illustrates, only three players have ever managed over 1000 runs in the sub-continent as skipper. Cook has the most runs and the best average among any batsmen in this period. The England captain is one of the five visiting captains to score a double century, with Cook’s 263 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2015 the highest.
* Time period is when Cook took over captaincy.
With Cook nearing 11000 runs, more records beckon for him after this magnificent performance.