Cow Corner

Take a bow, Alastair Cook

Cow Corner

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The stark difference in mentality between England and Australia became obvious at the moment when Shane Watson took Alastair Cook's wicket on day three of the final Ashes Test.

Despite having scored 189 to put England within sight of a series win - and accumulating the best Ashes total in Australia since the Bradman era - Cook could barely hide his disgust at a badly timed drive as he left the field to a great ovation.

Watson, conversely, looked no less pleased than Shane Warne after the ball of the last century and double pointed to the sky for the divine inspiration that enabled him to bowl such a great wide ball with scant recognition to Mike Hussey for his brilliant catch in the gulley.

Cook's transformation from a Test cricketer on the brink of being dropped to historic runscorer has few comparisons. Statistical increases of this type in baseball and athletics are put down to steroids.

The only cricket comparison that comes to mind is Steve Waugh in 1989 - who hit his first Test century after nearly four years in the Australia side and went onto average 126.5.

He might even have reached a similar run total to Cook had England managed to get four wickets more often.

Both batsmen enjoyed destroying mediocre attacks but displayed the same incredible mental strength.

Almost as important as Cook's own runs has been the influence his quiet determination has had on his peers, with Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell - in this Test - displaying the same patience and thirst for runs.

England's stealthy accumulation of runs even led sponsors Vodafone to change their donation plan to the Jane McGrath Foundation after tea, as their pledge to reward sixes (none) and wickets (two) had barely raised more than Paul Collingwood's series average.

Fours were added to this and Bell and Prior ensured a worthwhile contribution.
Collingwood's last failure with the bat surely confirms his departure from the Test side.

His wicket of Mike Hussey is the only retrospective justification for his inclusion over Eoin Morgan, but at least on this occasion he didn't deny Bell the time to make his first ton against Australia in 31 innings.

His task was, admittedly, made easier having to face Steve Smith to take himself into three figures - Australia's fielding all-rounder has followed the Ian Salisbury approach to leg spin with one delivery each over turning massively straight off the bat to the boundary.

Bell had a big escape on 67 when hot spot failed to confirm a faint nick and Aleem Dar reversed his caught-behind decision to Watson, only to then have Snicko strongly suggest there was some contact.

Overall, though, Bell fully deserved his ton in a series where batting at six may have cost him at least 150 runs.

Shot of the day: A lot of the boundaries were due to rubbish bowling, but Prior's six over Smith's head was a superb strike. His run-a-ball fifty ensured England a 200-plus lead and a series win.

Man of the day/series/Sports Personality of the Year: Alastair Cook. Cowers must admit to being on the bandwagon for him to be dropped - and early enough before it became standing room only alongside the likes of Warne and Mike Atherton - but is very happy to have been proved wrong.

Stat of the day: 208. The number of runs separating Alastair Cook from the next highest run-scorer in the series (Hussey).

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