Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Debutant Alastair Hits All the Right Notes with Impressive Start That's Music to the Critics' Ear

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Debutant Alastair Hits All the Right Notes with Impressive Start That's Music to the Critics' Ear

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE VEYSEY

WHEN Alastair Cook collected the cricket writers' young cricketer of the year award from Tony Greig at the Park Lane Hotel early last September he was urged by the former England skipper to "forget the music and concentrate on the batting".

That was a reference to Cook's scholarship to Bedford School, which was not for cricket but music, and where he fiddled around with piano and saxophone as much as willow and leather.

Cook's progress since that evening six months ago, when he touched not a drop of the amber nectar and impressed observers with his politeness and attentiveness, will have been music to Greig's ears. Hours later, he pillaged a chanceless double century against the Australians for Essex, which confirmed that here was a batsman of huge potential.

It was an impression that Cook reinforced when he was briefly called up to Pakistan as cover for Michael Vaughan before Christmas and again as one of the eight elite young Englishmen who spent the winter at the national academy in Loughborough.

The grand plan was for his cricketing education to be furthered playing for the England A team in the Caribbean, a tour which he began last week by scoring a century, but he was summoned from Antigua only last Saturday in response to the injury crisis that has torn the senior team apart.

On the evidence of his first bite of the international cherry today in the alien conditions of Nagpur, Cook, like Andrew Strauss before him - who never looked back after greedily seizing on an injury to Michael Vaughan - could be a tough man to crowbar from the England side.

After England gave their numbed followers two huge bonuses by sending 11 fit men out on to the field and stand-in skipper Andrew Flintoff passing his first captaincy challenge with flying colours by correctly calling tails at the toss, the tall lefthander looked anything but a jetlagged novice who had only been in the country 72 hours. …

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