x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Alastair Cook happy to reach ton-up club with Andrew Strauss

The England vice-captain confident his opening partnership with Andrew Strauss, and the team's batsmen as a whole, will fire in Abu Dhabi.

England openers Alastair Cook, left, and Andrew Strauss, head to the practice nets in Abu Dhabi.
England openers Alastair Cook, left, and Andrew Strauss, head to the practice nets in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Now would be a good time for Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, England's captain and vice-captain respectively, and opening pair to put some partnerships together again.

When the pair step out at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium tomorrow in the second Test against Pakistan, it will be the 100th innings in which they have opened together.

That will make them only the fourth opening pair in history to have done so (Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge, of the West Indies, Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, of Sri Lanka, and Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer, of Australia are the other pairings).

It is a testament to their productivity - they have put on 4,163 runs together - but currently they are amid a medium-term blip in their union.

Bizarrely, as England have risen, the partnership has struggled: only twice in their last 11 innings have they put on more than 25 for the first wicket.

The pair put on 10 and six in the 10-wicket defeat last week.

Cook was unaware of the significance, as cricketers often are, of these numbers.

"I didn't know that it's our 100th time. He's [Strauss] got a great record and proved that over a number of years.

"It's our job to lay out the platform, we didn't do that in Dubai and that's why we didn't get a good total.

"We are pretty similar in character and we do enjoy batting together and hopefully we will do something special."

Cook highlighted big stands of 196 at Lord's in 2009 and 188 at Brisbane in 2010, both against Australia, as his two best partnerships with Strauss, both matches England won. Tellingly, both came after poor batting the previous Test.

In Dubai, England struggled against Saeed Ajmal's off-spin, though as good as he was there was recognition at the recklessness and rustiness of England's batting on a slowish surface where playing straight pays greater dividends.

"We made some poor decisions," Cook said. "To score runs you have to make good decisions for long periods of time and we didn't do that.

"Credit to Pakistan bowlerswho put us under significant pressure to force mistakes. It was just a poor performance. The challenge for us now is now to put that right, and hopefully we can do that."

If there is a ground you would want to turn up on to rediscover some form as a batsman, it is this one.

The two previous Tests played in Abu Dhabi have ended in high-scoring draws (though Pakistan might have beaten Sri Lanka in October had they successfully held on to their catches).

The talk is of another batsman-friendly surface, with potentially less help than Pakistan's fast bowlers received on the first day of that Sri Lanka Test.

"It's always nice to turn up at the ground, especially as a batsman, where history suggests that you can score runs," Cook said.

"[But] it doesn't count for anything, we've got to go out and put our poor performance behind us, we've had to put our hands up as a batting unit.

"We said when we turned No 1 [in the ICC Test rankings] there are going to be some rocky times ahead of you.

"No matter how good a side you are, you always lose games against some very good sides. This is a real test of our character. We've shown that in the past and hopefully we can show it again."