Alastair Cook believes England’s historic back-to-back Test wins in India are deserved reward for their year of hard work and willingness to learn.
Yesterday’s seven-wicket victory at Eden Gardens put England 2-1 up with just one match to play, and on course for a first series success here in almost 28 years.
The sustained wicket-taking spells of spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann and reverse-swing seamers James Anderson and Steven Finn are continued demonstration of the skills England’s bowlers have devised and perfected to prosper in Asia.
England captain Alastair Cook with his man-of-the match award in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/Ajay Roy
The first step, according to England’s new captain, was to recognise there was an issue - and then start doing something about it.
Amid the euphoria of the latest victory, albeit achieved after a last-minute wobble when England lost their first three wickets for eight in pursuit of just 41, Cook acknowledged they have trodden a difficult path in the past 12 months.
“We’ve had a tough 2012,” he said. “But the way we’ve managed to quickly rectify a few of our problems is a credit to our coaching staff and the leadership of (coach) Andy Flower - and the players as well.
“The first thing was a realisation of a problem, playing against spin. It probably wasn’t as big as everyone made out. But all of us as a batting unit had to have a look at our technique against spin and work out a method which suits each of us individually.
“We worked our socks off trying to improve our technique. Although we didn't get immediate results – it’s not going to happen overnight - we are now starting to.” If a transitional period had ensued post-Strauss, there would have been obvious mitigation. But it has not, and Cook added: “The way everyone has stuck together under a new captain, I can’t praise them enough. I think what we’ve done really is we've taken what we’ve been doing in the nets out into the middle, and started to perform close to our potential. That’s why we've won these last couple of games.”
It all clicked first of all for a 10-wicket win in Mumbai, and then in Kolkata - apart from one dodgy session on Saturday and yesterday’s minor stumble, England barely put a foot wrong.