Ashes 2017/18: Alastair Cook not the same batsman anymore, says Steve Waugh
Ahead of Ashes 2017/18, Steve Waugh says former England captain Alastair Cook is not the same batsman he used to be two years agocricket Updated: Oct 31, 2017 17:07 IST
England may have pinned their hopes heavily on senior batsman Alastair Cook to fire in the upcoming Ashes 2017-18, but former Australian captain Steve Waugh believes that Test cricket’s latest entry in 10,000-run club is past his prime.
Cook became the first English batsman and the youngest ever to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket, in May 2016.
With 1,288 runs in 15 Tests, Cook stands above Sachin Tendulkar (1,212 runs in 13 Tests) to have scored most runs in Australia among the visiting batsmen since 2000.
With a mind-boggling 766 runs in Ashes 2010-11 Down Under — at an average of 127.66 with three centuries and five fifties — Cook had entered record books as one of the finest contemporary batsmen.
But if Waugh is to be believed, the former England captain is not the batsman he was about two years ago.
“Cook will have a tough series, particularly against Mitchell Starc. He’s still a very good player but I don’t think he’s the player he was a couple of years ago. Having said that, he knows how to make runs and he’s got an amazing record,” Waugh was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“But against (Mitchell) Starc and (Josh) Hazelwood and (Pat) Cummins, they’ll really test him out. He’ll have to be on his best game and for England to do well in this series, he needs to score a lot of runs and occupy the crease,” Waugh added.
Waugh is of the opinion that Cook has not faced a quality attack over last 12 months. “The last 12 months, he’s faced some attacks that are nowhere near the potency of this Australian attack, particularly on quicker wickets. He has the know-how and he’s got the muscle memory and he knows he can score runs against anyone,” Waugh explained.
Waugh also questioned Cook’s mental toughness by saying, “But the big question is the swinging ball, if he gets knocked out a couple of times in the first Test match, he’ll have some doubts in his mind. Australia will really focus in on Cook and Root at the top of the order, if they can knock those guys out cheaply than it does expose the middle order.”
‘Shame if Ben Stokes isn’t here’
The former Australian captain said it will be a shame if England begin the Ashes without the charismatic Ben Stokes in their ranks. “You want to see the best teams play in the Ashes series, so I think even as players the Australian guys would have enjoyed the prospect of playing against Ben Stokes,” Waugh said.
“You want to test yourself against the best and in some ways it becomes a little bit hollow if you’re not beating the best opposition side. You can only deal with what’s put on the park, but it’d be a shame if he doesn’t come,” he added.
Waugh continued, “The crowds would have enjoyed it, he would have got back into the crowd, there would have been a few verbals maybe a bit like Stuart Broad on the last tour. Ian Botham used to cop it. There’s always one English player that comes in for a bit of stick and we might have to pick another player now if Ben Stokes doesn’t turn up.”
The Ashes 2017-18 begins November 23 at The Gabba in Brisbane.
First Published: Oct 31, 2017 17:07 IST