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Southampton Test: Short balls served as Alastair Cook's Sunday recipe

Southampton: When the Australians gathered in Brisbane last November before the 2013-14 Ashes series, one of the main messages coach Darren Lehmann sent to his fast bowlers was on the lines of, "I don't mind if Cook gets an hundred by playing 15 cover drives, but I will be disgusted if he cuts and pulls his way into form."

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook 

The Australian bowlers responded splendidly, as did the Sri Lankan bowlers four months later. Even the inexperienced Indians bowlers stuck to this strategy.

But with the pressure mounting on Cook, the Indian bowlers finally fell into the trap of bowling in Cook's most productive areas of scoring. Out of his 95 runs, Cook scored 41 by pulling or cutting the Indian bowlers.

In the first session, 25 of Cook's runs had been scored off the back foot as Mohammed Shami erred in length constantly.

Even the ever-accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the elementary mistake of offering width to Cook. If that was not bad enough, Cook managed to play three square cuts off part-time spinners, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.

Cook wasn't the only culprit of short bowling. Centurion Gary Balance, another England batsman that is reluctant to coming forward, cashed in by scoring 47 of his runs through the backward point area by executing the cut shot with ease.

It was a disappointing bowling performance because the slow pitch warranted for the ball to be pitched up in order to induce the drive. Throughout the first two Tests, the Indian bowlers had great success pitching the ball up.

But without the leader of the pack — the injured Ishant Sharma — the young bowling unit lacked potency.
On a slightly damp wicket, England through their captain, took a gamble to bat and fortunately for them, India could not execute a plan that had been a success for all the bowlers around the world.

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