India Test series: Alastair Cook claims upturn is ‘an innings away’ as England embark on must-win series

 

cricket correspondent

Alastair Cook sets out on the mission to save his job as England captain. It may not be too extreme to suggest that his international career as an opening batsman, at least in the short term, rests on the performances of Cook and his team in the series against India which begins in Nottingham on Wednesday morning.

England are without a win in eight Test matches, Cook is without a hundred in 22 Test innings. Over the course of the six weeks into which the five-match series has been ridiculously crammed both those statistics must be  remedied.

Cook, under constant criticism from some quarters, is patently aware of what is at stake. But he displayed little sign of tension at Trent Bridge as he reflected on what must be done. “I’ve worked very hard over the last 10 days, and I’ve just got to make sure my mind is totally clear so that when I go out there I can  concentrate on the most important thing – which is that ball coming down,”  he said.

“It’s always an innings away. I think that’s one of the beauties of form – which no one quite understands. You go in, and can feel a bit rusty in the first 20 minutes or half-an-hour but then get a little bit of luck and you’re back to where you were.”

Cook has scored more than 8,000 Test runs and has more Test hundreds than any other England batsman. But his average in the last three series, the last two of which England have lost, has plummeted to the mid-twenties. “No one quite understands why you have all these peaks and troughs in your career,” he said. “The better players have fewer peaks and troughs and are far more consistent. I know I’ve got to score runs in this series.”

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