Cook thanked his team for their all-round contribution
England captain Alastair Cook has announced that breaking the national team’s 28-year losing streak in India was “on par” with winning the Ashes against arch-rivals Australia.
Cook became only the fourth England captain to win a Test series in India, joining a club, which boasts three other legends by the names of Douglas Jardine, David Gower and Tony Greig.
Many cricket pundits and former players praised Cook for his outstanding leadership skills throughout the series and were even more impressed that he managed to pull off a 2-1 series win in his debut Test series as captain and also after being 1-0 down at the end of the first Test in Ahmedabad.
Cook once again reiterated the feeling that this win was as good as beating Australia in the Ashes series.
“It is obviously a very special day, a special tour,” he said. “I think it is on a par with the Ashes. As an Englishman winning in Australia after so long meant a huge amount. But to be in that that dressing room there for that last half an hour knowing what we had achieved was a very special place and it will live long in my memory.”
Cook’s 562 run contribution with the bat showed that he was ready to lead by example and the team’s spin duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar played a crucial role in using the turning pitches India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has asked for to their advantage.
“We have played on four very different wickets,” Cook said. “We didn’t handle the Ahmedabad wicket so well, but the other three wickets were all very different in sub-continent style. Everyone in this squad can be proud of what they achieved, especially the way we bounced back after the heavy defeat in Ahmedabad.
“I was surprised at the level we managed to achieve so soon after Ahmedabad to be honest with you. I was talking about playing to our potential but I was surprised we managed to do it straightaway and put all those doubts to bed and prove to ourselves that we could bat in these conditions.”
The England captain thanked Dhoni for the sharply turning pitch in Mumbai, which allowed Swann and Panesar to rip right through the Indian batting lineup and tie the series at one apiece.
“After the first game in Ahmedabad it would have been so easy to let head drops, but we showed a lot of character in Mumbai,” he said. “I think the fact it was a result wicket in Mumbai really helped us.
“It freed us up knowing that one way or another there would be a result and that people weren’t expecting us to win. Once we got over that mental hurdle and were able to trust our ability on these wickets with the bat we certainly made a big leap forward.”
Cook believes that his players really started to shine after watching his fighting performance in the second innings of the first Test.
“You want to prove that the captaincy is not a burden,” Cook added. “To do it straight away is a big monkey of your back. It made me very proud that night when I went home after the game. If it gave other people confidence that is even more pleasing.”
As the series went along, Cook started getting vital contributions from all his batsmen and bowlers, which turned out to be the final nail in the coffin for India, who struggled to do anything right after winning the first Test by nine wickets.
“They are big characters in the dressing room,” Cook said. “The support they have given me, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. To captain those guys can be tough in certain circumstances, but you want that, you want a lot of ideas and strong opinions because that is when you normally get the best thinking done.”
Cook noted that the pitch in Nagpur had been extremely slow and uneven at first, but later turned out to be a batsman’s dream, which was exactly what England needed to draw the match and walk out of India with a 2-1 win.
“We were slightly surprised by the pitch at the start, how low and slow it was,” Cook said. “We thought it would get worse but actually it got better. We knew when we were batting in the second innings it was going to be very hard for India to take those wickets and if we applied ourselves with not too many soft dismissals it would be very hard to bowl us out.”
Cook credited Warwickshire pair Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell for their match-saving 208 run partnership, in which both batsmen reached managed to reach triple figures before both captains agreed to end the match as a draw.
“I can’t credit the batters enough for fronting up and taking on that challenge,” Cook added. “Normally there are a few nerves on day like this but the calm way that Trotty and Belly batted was just fantastic. You can say it’s a flat wicket but when you know you have to bat for 150 overs a series win seems a long way away.”