Alastair Cook reached another milestone in his test career during the 3rd and final test against Sri Lanka this week. The England’s opening batsman scored his sixth consecutive half century to equal the record last achieved by Ken Barrington in 1963.
The Essex star has added to his achievements, already having racked up six test centuries before his 23rd birthday and breaking a whole host of records during the Winter Ashes Series in Australia.
Graham Gooch has been credited with refining Cook’s approach to batting through work at Essex where Cook plays County cricket and he has been rewarded with heading up the 14 man One Day Squad with his first challenge starting on the 28th June against Sri Lanka. Having landed the job, Cook will be replacing Andrew Strauss.
Many critics have tipped Cook to be Strauss’s eventual replacement when he retires from his role as Test Captain. He successfully led an England side to victory in Bangladesh in 2009 which was labelled his ‘audition’ for taking the role in the future.
It is not even twelve months since Cook’s place in the England side was under question due to his sporadic form in the summer test against Pakistan but since his career defining performance throughout the Ashes Series in Australia he has been holding his own in the matches that have followed. Cook, England’s vice Captain, made a total of 290 runs in all innings during the recent rain hit test series against Sri Lanka which England won 1-0 and has been named England’s One Day Captain.
In addition to Cook, Ian Bell may also equal Ken Barrington’s record meaning that having not been broken in over 50 years, it would have been equalled twice in a matter of weeks. In order to follow in Barrington and Cook’s footsteps, Bell would have to score his sixth consecutive 50 when England face India in their next Test Series at the end of July.
Like Cook, Bell is also in the form of his career and is a constant reminder that Cook’s step up to Captain is by no means a guaranteed transition and begs the question would Bell be a more suitable candidate for the coveted role? Being hot on his heels with his run tally, Bell also has experience of captaining Warwickshire at County level as well as an established place in England’s ODI and 20/20 squads, something Cook still has to prove during the coming months.
Despite Cook’s remarkable test efforts, he was also omitted from the World Cup squad which travelled to India earlier this year and subsequently failed to reach their expected potential, a team that Bell was much a part of.
For now, Cook, recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours will be hoping to continue his form into the ODI form of his sport and it remains to be seen whether he and Bell will enjoy more success setting the standard for the England batting. Having two of their leading batsman in exceptional form can only be an advantage to England but as many fans will hope, it won’t be another 50 years until someone matches their current form.