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.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice