Warne's antics are unappealing but Cook is a delight to watch

Shane Warne is the best leg-spin bowler of all time, and possibly the best bowler, pure and simple. Nobody with an ounce of gumption demurred when he was elected as one of the five cricketers of the 20th century.

Not everything about him, however, is appealing. Especially his appealing. To Warne, an appeal, whether for lbw or a catch, is less a polite inquiry than a piece of theatre. It approached risibly melodramatic proportions in Perth yesterday as England went in improbable but admirably dogged pursuit of a victory target of 557.

Of course, it is perfectly understandable that Warne should appeal loud and often. Not only is it within the letter and spirit of the laws, but it happens to be part of the whole performance of wearing down batsmen, of eating at their very souls. It is designed to exploit weakness and encourage doubt.

All well and good, but it is what is happening after the appeal has been lodged that has become unappetising. Instead of accepting the umpire's verdict and getting on with it, Warne has taken to prolonging the event. He pouts, preens, stands with hands on hips in the double teapot position and looks at the umpire as though the decision is a personal affront.

Alastair Cook, England's centurion and an extremely cool dude, paid no heed to the champion bowler's antics, and Warne was quick to shake his hand when the landmark was reached. "He's always a bit unlucky, isn't he," Cook observed drolly. "I think that's the way the Aussies play their cricket. They're very good like that and when someone does well against them they offer congratulations. The whole thing is theatre for him. He's a good bowler, you've just got to ignore it and watch the ball."

Cook ignored the play-acting all right and while never in command against Warne he was never flustered. Ian Bell positively relished the challenge. He had the dancing feet of Billy Elliott as he went down the track to hoist a couple of sixes and executed some impeccably timed on drives against the turn. It was difficult to recall that this was the same chap who froze against Australia in 2005 and completely forgot the script. No player more deserved a century.

Perhaps the second-wicket partnership of 170 on a day of superb defiance persuaded Warne to become flustered. He was certainly more animated than usual - and he is never still - which provoked the Barmy Army into giving him some dreadful stick.

The antics took the sheen off some magnificent bowling, which made the efforts of Cook and Bell all the more praiseworthy. Warne had bowled 31 overs into the wind by the end of the day, 24 of them in one spell.

Glenn McGrath had no hesitation in crediting his two late wickets to the pressure built up by his spinning colleague. "It was some day at the office," said McGrath. "Shane never eases up. I think he appeals because he thinks they're out but the umpires made some pretty good decisions. As to whether it affects batsmen, you'd have to ask them."

The point is that it is intended to affect the batsman. If it was any other bowler, rather than the man who has taken more Test wickets than anybody in history, he would be on permanent report to the match referee. As it is, nothing is done and the show goes on.

The way in which Cook and Bell approached him and the other bowlers yesterday gave England cause for optimism. They were assertive and in control.

"I've felt in nick throughout the series, I just haven't got a score," said Cook. "When you've got someone bowling who has taken almost 700 Test wickets and another who has taken 500, it's hard work. You get no respite. You've got to stick to a game plan and not get overawed.

"Bell and me are both quite laid back characters. The plan was to grind it out in the first session and then the second session and not make any silly mistakes. I've been nicking off a bit and I left the ball better today."

Cook has now scored four Test centuries before his 22nd birthday, which he celebrates on Christmas Day, two more than any England player before him. David Gower and Denis Compton had two centuries each before they were 22.

Only nine other players have achieved such feats. Sachin Tendulkar had eight hundreds before he turned 22, George Headley seven and Don Bradman six. Cook cannot beat those figures now but he demonstrated yesterday that he has a future every bit as bright.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style