There was precious little cheer for fans of the England cricket team following their nine-wicket loss to India in the first Test match last week. England didn’t bat as well, bowled less penetratively, and fielded slightly worse than the opposition. In other words, they were outplayed in every quarter. Apart from another redoubtable knock from Matt Prior, England’s much-underappreciated wicketkeeper-batsman, only the new captain Alastair Cook shone. But, boy, did he shine. As I (Martin) have written elsewhere, Cook has an astonishing temperament, a freakish ability not to sweat in climates that would make most of us want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep (“Mad Dogs and Englishmen. . .” anyone?), and an awareness of his limitations and his abilities. He and Prior scored 60 percent of England’s total runs, and Cook alone scored more than a third of them. Cook is now well on course to be the most prolific run-getter in English Test history, and will surely by the end of 2013 be the Englishman with the most centuries. And he’s only 27 years old. He could be one of the greats. Now he just needs to bring along his side with him.
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