The first day of the Investec test series against South Africa included a nervous start for England. They lost captain Andrew Strauss on just the fourth ball of the day. However, Alistair Cook displayed amazing calmness and fortitude to make an unbeaten century and joined former English great Graham Gooch in the twenty test centuries club. Cook hasn’t been able to convert his starts into three figure scores since his masterful 294 against India, when his team went on to whitewash the series. Cook came painfully close to a century on two occasions, but got out and he described the feeling of finally making it home “very satisfying.”
Explaining that each century has a special place in a batsman’s heart, Cook said, “Every hundred is a good hundred but I don't think I gave a chance today.” He said that he found himself completely in control and left the ball alone when necessary.
Talking about making twenty centuries for his country, Cook said, “It's nice to join Goochie. Clearly he was a great player and to have the same amount of hundreds of him is very special.” Describing his feelings when attaining this landmark, Cook said, “Every little landmark means something. I remember going from nine to 10 - and I think that was against South Africa as well (in Durban in 2009) - and to go from 19 to 20 had the same kind of feeling, especially after waiting a while and getting close a couple of times.”
Cook’s innings was very composed and he didn’t keep a foot wrong. The most outstanding aspect of his innings was that he didn’t offer the South African team a single window of opportunity for the 283 deliveries that he was on crease.
Cook explained his unusual, yet rigorous training session wherein he started training right after the one day series against Australia and continued training right till the time he got to the Kia Oval to face South Africa. He practiced for a couple of sessions with Graham Gooch and his ball-throwing device and for the rest of the time, in his own words, “was moving sheep or whatever!”
Cook’s captain Andrew Strauss has twenty one centuries and team-mate Kevin Pietersen has twenty. Ian Bell is getting there with sixteen centuries. Cook explained that having such an experienced batting order around “breeds” confidence within players. From a player’s perspective, Cook described that as “a very comforting feeling to look around and see players who have scored a lot of hundreds.”