England batting coach Graham Gooch believes Alastair Cook's superb unbeaten 168 is as good an innings as he has ever seen from the left-hander and proves he is blossoming under the responsibility of being England captain.
By stumps on day four of the first Test against India - his first as permanent captain - Cook had batted throughout the four sessions of England's second innings and helped them successfully overturn a mammoth initial deficit of 330 runs.
Gooch does not think he has seen anything better than this knock, saying: "Some players blossom under the captaincy as a performer, and he has certainly blossomed under that responsibility here.
Cook's 21st Test century, combined with an unbroken stand of 141 with Matt Prior (84no), took England to 340 for five at stumps and a lead of 10 heading into the final day in Ahmedabad.
It was an utterly defiant and resourceful performance, on a worn pitch favouring India's spinners, which might yet not save England but was a virtuoso demonstration of his skill and determination.
Gooch, who as of Sunday stands one behind Cook in England's list of all-time most prolific centurions, added: "It was great commitment from our guys and great fighting spirit and Alastair led from the front as captain. That will do him the world of good to put that score on the board, showing what he is capable of and what this team is capable of."
Where Cook succeeded, Kevin Pietersen - among others - failed, for the second day in succession. "I think Kevin will be very disappointed with both innings," said Gooch. "He trains very hard and practises very hard, and has played well in recent times. But like other players, he has to trust his ability.
"There is a certain way of playing over here. You've got to get yourself in and trust your defence - once you've done that you can look at what scoring options you've got.
India remain favourites to go 1-0 up on Monday but even if they do, Gooch is reassured that England have shown their opponents they will not be pushovers in this four-Test series.
"India put 520 on the board and played very well. They are a very good side and exceptional at playing in these conditions," he said. "We've shown today that we can cope with those conditions as well."
- Sports & Recreation
- Alastair Cook
- Graham Gooch