Second Test: England ride out early loss of Alastair Cook


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The Independent Online

New Zealand were as good as their word in the second Test last night and may have rued it. Brendon McCullum had insisted that his wide would bowl if they won the toss in Wellington.

He would have been perfectly entitled to change his mind when the coin duly came down in his favour but the green tinge on the pitch, the promise of extra carry and perhaps the prospect of England repeating their misdemeanours of the first Test persuaded him to stick to his intentions.

By lunch, England, who would also have bowled apparently, had reached 75 for 1 from 28 overs. Although they had lost their captain, Alastair Cook, there was little to concern the tourists either in the pitch or from the bowling.

Too much was wide, too much was short and scant pressure was applied. Nick Compton demonstrated the confidence bestowed by his maiden Test hundred last week in the first Test in Dunedin. Although he played and missed a couple of times at the new ball, he oozed assurance.

His first boundary was an assertive pull to a short ball from Trent Boult and he followed this up almost immediately with a well-designed cover drive for four. Jonathan Trott settled to the task in hand immediately and combined his usual stealthy defence with some cuts and pulls against some pretty moderate bowling.

It was all but inevitable that the flattering mention of Cook in the same sentence as Don Bradman, enunciated by McCullum, would have consequences. So it proved.

Barely had the Twittersphere begun to have fun with McCullum's well-intended compliment that Cook at present was as good as anyone who had played the game barring Bradman than the England captain was out. A Bradman type of dismissal it was not.

Cook, having unfurled a characteristic leg-side clip for four, looked in good order. But uncharacteristically he then turned an innocuous ball from the left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner straight to wide mid-on. It might have stopped in the pitch as Cook looked suspiciously at the surface as he departed but it might not have done.

In any case, it took Cook's Test match batting average down to 49.38, slightly under half of Bradman's 99.94. But then it was not Cook who made the comparison in the first place.