Captain Cook thanks Ageas Bowl Test crowd

ALASTAIR COOK

ALASTAIR COOK

First published in Sport Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

ALASTAIR Cook thanked the Ageas Bowl crowd after leading England to a first Test win in Hampshire.

England’s first Test win since last year’s 3-0 Ashes success was completed by lunch on the final day after Moeen Ali took India’s last four wickets to finish with a career-best 6-67.

More than 9,500 were there to see the completion of the 266-run win, taking the aggregate attendance for this match above 49,000.

Cook was delighted with the support, especially on the first day when he was given two standing ovations from the 15,651 in attendance on his way to 95 - his highest Test score for 14 months.

He said: “I felt the support walking to the ground and walking out to bat, it was amazing. I told Gaz (Gary Ballance) that I’d never experienced that walking off for lunch 40 not out.

“Gaz said ‘I doubt you’d have got that at Headingley!’ It was slightly strange but a nice feeling. The crowd been fantastic for us as an England side the whole week, it’s been brilliant and thanks to the groundsman and Rod as well.

“It was also great for [head coach] Pete Moores to get his first Test match win and for the guys who haven’t experienced a Test win before. I saw Gaz running to pick up a stump straight away!”

India began the final day on 112-4 after being set 445 to win by England on day four.

But they were soon 178 all out.

James Anderson, who stayed in Southampton for today’s ICC hearing into the incident involving Ravindra Jadeja at Trent Bridge, began the procession by finding two outside edges in the space of 12 balls to finish with match figures of 7-77.

It was his best match analysis at The Ageas Bowl since his third County Championship game for Lancashire 12 years ago, when he took 9-50 on a sub-standard wicket for which Hampshire were docked eight points.

He had to work a lot harder for his wickets on a very good Test wicket this time. “We showed when we batted it was a good pitch,” said Anderson, who agreed he was “somewhere near my best”.

He continued: “When you got in as a batsman you could score runs on it so we’ve got to take a lot of credit as bowlers for maintaining the pressure.

“We were absolutely relentless as a four-seam attack. Chris Woakes is walking out of the game with no wickets but he bowled fantastically well and deserved some.

“It’s really exciting for us that that’s how good we can be and now we want to maintain that throughout the rest of the series.”

For all the excellence of the seamers, it was Moeen Ali who shone a last-day wicket that offered turn, for which Nigel Gray and his groundstaff deserve a lot of credit.

He took 4-17 in 22 balls with his fast-improving off-spin to complete his maiden Test five-for and England’s first win since beating Australia at Durham last August.

“I haven’t seen such a level of improvement in a bowler in such a short space of time,” said Cook. “Mo doesn’t bowl that much for Worcester behind [Saeed] Ajmal so to adjust to a holding role in international cricket - the lengths, lines and speeds you have to bowl - and then be an attacking option on a wicket that does spin a bit shows he’s learnt really well.”

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