| England players during a practice session, in Nagpur, on Wednesday. (PTI) |
Nagpur: Barring the 76 in the first innings of the Eden Test, Sachin Tendulkar hasn’t quite been amongst runs, which led to speculations over his retirement.
However, for England captain Alastair Cook, Tendulkar, despite his rough patch, continues to be the most admired cricketer whom hardly anyone will ever match.
“He is an amazing cricketer, an incredible player with a fantastic record… No one will match his hundred centuries… I am sure of that.
“It’s a pleasure to play against him. It’s not for me to say when the great man can retire or whatever… He will make whatever decision he has to,” Cook said on the eve of the fourth Test, which starts from Thursday, at the VCA Stadium.
At the moment, though, his team’s dream comeback in the series is something that amazes Cook more.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the character we have shown after the Ahmedabad loss. I had said after that Test that if we could play to our potential, we have a chance to win. And to play as well as we have done in those two games, hasn’t surprised me as such… It has pleased me,” he said.
Cook has a chance to be the first England captain after David Gower, and after 28 long years, to win a Test series in this part of the world.
If he and his men achieve their target, it would certainly occupy a place among the list of remarkable achievements of English cricket.
|Sachin Tendulkar in Nagpur, on Wednesday
“It’s an incredible situation we find ourselves in… We’ve played some really good cricket to get there. And we are desperately keen as a side to continue doing that. We have played some really tough cricket. If we want to keep doing that, we need to continue in this frame of mind,” Cook explained.
“Everyone knows how important this game is. But as a player, you have to take that emotion out of it. Use it in the build-up, but when you’re out there, you have to be focussed on what your job is and what the state of the game is. And you have to be ruthless in taking that emotion out.
“It’s nice to talk about it, but when you’re out there, it’s important to focus on what your job is,” he added.
The city of Nagpur is precious in its own ways to Cook as it was here, back in early 2006, that he hit a half-century and a hundred on his debut Test.
“It feels like such a long time ago that I made by debut… It’s strange in a way that we are not playing in the previous (VCA) stadium.
“For me, though, it’s a personal thing. The facilities here, too, are incredible. The net practice facility is as good as any I have seen anywhere in the world.
“Personally, the other venue has lots of sentimental value. But hopefully, by the end of the five days, this one will have similar emotions,” Cook hoped.
Talking about the pitch at the VCA Stadium, Cook said that it has a resemblance of sorts with the wicket at Eden Gardens.
“It looks a very dry wicket… It’s very close to the wicket in Calcutta, with lots of cracks and playing a lot better than we thought it would.”
One has to wait and see how right Cook is.