A century on debut at Nagpur and now three-in-a-row at Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Kolkata! Alastair Cook relishes the Indian bowling and his run feast is beginning to weigh heavily on the home camp. The Indian bowlers just can’t work out a method to snap this prolific scorer cheaply.
During the course of his sterling show on Thursday, Cook emerged the highest century maker for England with 23 in his 86th Test. His illustrious predecessors were Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen.
Hammond’s 22nd century had come in his 78th Test, Cowdery’s in 107th, Boycott’s in 107th and Pietersen in his 90th.
Cook, a complete batsman with the ability to grind the attack, has scored a century against all Test nations excepting Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Pietersen is yet to score a Test century against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Hammond, who played his last Test in 1947, has the most enviable record. His career includes six double and one triple hundred and his consistency was amazing when he knew his form was good. Scores of 251, 200, 119 not out and 177 against Australia in 1928-29 speak of his awesome ability to dominate. In 1933, he made 101 against Australia and followed it up with 227 and 336 not out in successive innings against New Zealand.
Hammond hit back-to-back centuries against India in 1936 and South Africa in 1938. Pietersen has three double centuries and twice has back-to-back centuries, against Sri Lanka in 2006 followed by New Zealand (Nottingham) and South Africa (Lord’s) in 2008.
Pietersen is ranked among the finest batsmen in modern cricket with a quality to make runs on difficult pitches, similar to the times when Hammond conquered the opposition.
Cowdrey was a master in his own manner. He believed in building his innings and came up with notable contributions when the team needed. He was 37 when he hit his 22nd Test century and achieved back-to-back centuries on one occasion.
Boycott was one of his kind, an epitome of good technique and an accumulator of runs. He made his last Test century at the age of 41 with a career-best score of 246 not out against India at Leeds in 1967. Ironically, he was dropped for the next match because of slow batting.
Even as Cook celebrates his slot at the top of the Test century makers from England, he would be aware of Pietersen in waiting. Cook would love Pietersen to join him with his 23rd century. It would set up the stage for an English victory at the Eden. just the icing on the cake for Cook and Pietersen.