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Pink ball no issue for England's stars

18 August 2017

Alastair Cook solid in defense against West Indies // Getty

Chris Stocks, Edgbaston


Chris Stocks, Edgbaston


England dominate day one as Cook and Root post centuries in historic day-night Test at Edgbaston

In the end, the fear that England's batsmen might struggle against the pink ball in their first taste of day-night cricket was to prove unfounded.

Instead, Joe Root and Alastair Cook, England's current and former captains respectively, plundered centuries on this landmark day to put their team in complete control on 3-348 by the close of day one of this first Test.

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West Indies are not exactly the strongest opposition right now. Indeed, they have lost their past five Test series.

Yet the performances of Cook, unbeaten on 153 overnight after bringing up Test hundred number 31, and Root, breaking an England record by posting a 50-plus score for the 11th successive Test, were still impressive.

Root's consistency saw him beat a 46-year England record established by John Edrich, who hit half-centuries in 10 consecutive matches between 1969 and 1971.

If the Yorkshireman can pass 50 again on his home ground at Headingley next week he will equal the world record of half-centuries in 12 straight Tests that belongs to South Africa's AB De Villiers.

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It moved Cook, whose first three-figure international score in 17 innings saw him overtake Matthew Hayden on the all-time list of Test centurions, to remark that his successor as captain is touched by genius.

"He makes it look quite easy - frustratingly easy," he said.

"It's incredible he manages to score like he does. If he's not the best England player I've played with he's right up there - I think he is.

"His game is phenomenal and he's just churning out runs. He's just phenomenally consistent against world-class bowlers around the world. Genius. Unbelievable player."

Root's form since taking on the Test captaincy at the start of this northern summer may be ominous for Australia, England's next opponents in Test-match cricket when the Ashes get underway in November.

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Cook, too, is looking in decent touch ahead of his fourth Ashes tour, this century consolidating the form that saw him score two crucial half-centuries during the recent impressive 3-1 series win against South Africa.

"I've got the opportunity to get a big score with 153 not out on day one," he said. "There's obviously a lot of time left in game but you can always nick the first one tomorrow. But I've got an opportunity. It's up to me to take it.

"I don't know why hundreds are such a big thing. I was really pleased with the couple of 50s in a tough series against South Africa where the ball did quite a lot. But as a batter, you're always judged on hundreds and big ones. It's nice today that when it tilted in the batters' favour, I managed to cash in."

England's first experience of day-night Test cricket in front of a packed-out and boisterous Edgbaston was a good one.

It's important they get into the rhythm and timings of the new format given they will face Australia in the first pink-ball Ashes match at Adelaide in early December.

And Cook admitted he is still getting used to it all.

Cook finishes unbeaten on 153 on day one at Edgbaston // Getty

"I was yawning at 9pm because it was past my bedtime," he said after the finish at 9.30pm UK time.

"It was slightly unusual because you're programmed to play in white kit starting at 11am with a red ball. It's what we've done for all our careers. Suddenly changing it takes a little bit of time. It's just a mental thing."

As for the experience for the fans in Birmingham, the moment darkness descended shortly before 8.30pm was when Root was finally undone, bowled playing a tired shot to Kemar Roach.

The atmosphere, though, was pretty special, even if the cricket was underwhelming given the one-sided nature of this first day's play.

Many spectators voted with their feet, leaving well before the close.

But it still couldn't take the shine off Root and Cook's masterclass. 

About the Writer


Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.