Cork determined to lord it over Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online

Percy Thrower, who was on the gardening scene a long while before Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock and co always reckoned the answer lay in the soil, and the same could apply to Dominic Cork as far as his re-emergence at England level goes.

For the last couple of years the groundsman at Derby has been feeding the square on a diet of seaweed and Cork explained: "It seems to help the grass grow better on the square. All we were trying to do was get some 'carry' on the pitch and the result is that now we are playing on quicker wickets than I have ever played on for Derbyshire. In the past there have been so many dead wickets where you cannot get the ball to carry."

It is certainly carrying for Cork, 15 of his 23 Championship wickets this season have come at home and the Derbyshire captain's confidence is high after leading his side to three wins out of three to lead the Second Division.

But therein lies the rub. There is an argument that those wickets have been taken against Second Division (and therefore, by inference inferior) teams. But Cork insists: "I feel confident that First or Second division I am bowling as well as I have been for a while. And although 23 in the Second might not be 23 in the First, they are all still first-class wickets. And anyway, I am putting the ball in the right place, so whether it is [Mark] Ramprakash in the First or someone else in the Second Division they still have to play it."

Cork, who won the last of his 34 caps last year against Australia, makes his comeback at the same venue, Lord's, where he thrives, if the figures are to be believed, 33 wickets at headquarters at an average of 22.91.

"I hope the bowling stays around that mark," adding modestly, "if I am selected for the final XI." As for the place, Cork is almost gung-ho about it, "I feel if people do not get inspired by playing at Lord's then they should not bother coming here in the first place," he said.

"I know there are bigger stadiums with 50,000 or 60,000 spectators, but a packed house here is awesome. It gets the hairs going on the back of my neck. Just walking out through the pavilion is like walking through history. In the changing room today I read all the names on the honours board and it just makes you feel proud about being an England player."

Cork looks a safe bet to win a 35th Test cap against Sri Lanka on Thursday, but there was still a greyish cloud over John Crawley. The in-form Hampshire batsman suffered a lower back strain against Kent last Friday and although he came through a rigorous work-out in the indoor nets at Lord's yesterday he faces a further strenuous work-out today before the cautious England management makes a decision.