x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Unflappable England pair Cook and Trott untroubled by Sri Lanka

The pair put on 240 runs on day three of the first test against Sri Lanka to give their side a chance to take command in Cardiff.

Alastair Cook, the England opener, believes stubbornness is the key to the phenomenal weight of runs scored by himself and Jonathan Trott in recent months.

Cook and Trott were the mainstays of England's batting line-up during the triumphant Ashes campaign, scoring a combined 1,211 runs in five Test matches, and the pair shared another unbroken stand of 240 on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

The England vice-captain reached stumps on 129 not out, with Trott only four runs behind following a superb partnership in Cardiff in reply to Sri Lanka's 400 all out.

The Essex opener, Cook, has now scored five hundreds in his last eight Test outings, with Trott striking four in his last seven appearances.

Explaining what has made the duo so unflappable at the crease in that period, Cook said: "We're very similar in terms of our mental approach, I think we're both quite stubborn guys and it seems to suit our style playing together.

"We're quite happy just to bat in fives. We just try and get five more runs and we always remind ourselves of that.

"I think 'just another five' is going to be stuck in my head all night."

With 17 centuries to his name at the age of 26, Cook is already just five shy of the England record of 22 held jointly by Geoffrey Boycott, Wally Hammond and Colin Cowdrey.

Reflecting on the fine recent run that has taken him to those lofty heights, he added: "You never master it [batting], but you can improve on it and that's certainly one of those things I was talking to people about before I went out to Australia.

"I'd never really gone on and got big 150-plus scores, daddy hundreds, but the last couple of hundreds I have done that so the method I'm using seems to be working.

"You never say you've mastered it but it is certainly improvable.

"A double hundred would be nice tomorrow but it's easier said than done."

With plenty of time lost from the game to rain, forecasts uncertain for the final two days and James Anderson, England's attack leader, unfit to bowl in the second innings, England may struggle to force victory at Sophia Gardens.

But this was a time to revel in the efforts of two men in the form of their careers.

Trott's average stood at over 66 by the close of play, a figure that puts him above most of the game's greats bar Sir Donald Bradman.

It will take something special if he is to maintain that mark but Cook was full of praise for his partner.

"He's been a revelation for us since he came in the 2009 Ashes. He's been fantastic," he said.

"His stats are phenomenal. Having that rock at No 3 means our batting order is very settled.

"We have every base covered at the moment."

Looking ahead to England's prospects of doing enough to set up a final-day tilt for victory, Cook added: "Our only real way of winning this game with the weather around is to bat once and bat really big. We've laid a platform to do that and there's still 200 overs left in this game which is a hell of a lot of cricket to be played."