Moores backs Cook to shine

The Bolton News: England coach Peter Moores, right, has confidence that Alastair Cook, left, will start contributing with the bat England coach Peter Moores, right, has confidence that Alastair Cook, left, will start contributing with the bat

Peter Moores is confident Alastair Cook will "stay strong" in adversity to restate his case as England captain and opening batsman.

Cook remains under mounting pressure after the drawn first Investec Test against India at Nottingham, where his England team extended their sequence without a win to nine matches stretching back 11 months.

He could also muster only five runs, taking his annual tally to a meagre 97 in seven attempts, before he was freakishly bowled round his legs off the underside of his thigh pad.

England coach Moores has no doubt, however, that Cook - England's all-time most prolific centurion - will put things right.

There is precious little time to regroup before the second Test at Lord's on Thursday for either man, or indeed a pace attack who bowled 222 overs in a stalemate on one of the slowest pitches ever prepared for international cricket in this country.

Cook's form remains the most pressing concern, but Moores does not find it difficult to keep the faith.

"It is a tough time when you are not getting runs," he said.

"But Alastair is a tough player, as he has shown throughout his career.

"It is a five-match series, and in a five-match series I expect Alastair to come through strongly - because he is a top-flight player.

"He has to stay strong."

Cook conceivably made some of his own trouble at Trent Bridge, where he moved markedly across his stumps before suffering evident misfortune against Mohammed Shami.

Moores said: "It was an extraordinary dismissal.

"It happens in cricket - you maybe get one in a career, two if you are unlucky.

"To get one when you desperately need a score is tough. I hope that's the end of it for him now, and he gets a few breaks."

Cook is no stranger to loss of form - no batsman is, because it is an occupational hazard - and he has made a lifelong habit of rediscovering the run-scoring knack with power to add.

"He has been through this situation before, and that is what makes great Test players - they can ride through it and come back strong," added Moores.

"He will be very keen to put his mark on Lord's."

Cook's problems lie on two fronts, of course - Test wins as well as individual runs are vital.

He had to be at his most resourceful in the field as England tried to eke out wickets in Nottingham, and won Moores' approval for his efforts.

"What I have been impressed with Alastair is that during a really tough time for him, I think he has grown rapidly as a captain and person around the team.

"I thought his captaincy in Nottingham was exceptional, in a tough game.

"It was challenging, but I think he made a lot of right decisions at the right time."

Cook could do with an established frontline spinner to help him, especially if Lord's follows suit with another lifeless pitch - as has suddenly become the norm in England this summer.

All-rounder Moeen Ali took four wickets, but conceded more than 200 runs, and England have taken a gamble by calling Simon Kerrigan into their squad.

"It is difficult to bowl sides out on surfaces like that, and if we have more of them we will need a spinner to open sides up," said Moores.

"Mo spins the ball hard, but we know he is not as experienced as a frontline spinner."

It may well be over to Kerrigan then - a solution which comes with a health warning, after the slow left-armer's nightmare debut at the Oval last year.

Kerrigan was unable to land the ball anywhere near where an international bowler should, and could easily have recorded worse than his figures of none for 53 in eight overs against Australia.

As his old Lancashire coach, Moores knows he is capable of much better.

"He had a tough debut, yes," Moores admitted.

"He has worked extremely hard to get himself where he wants to be. He is a very talented bowler, a very talented young man.

"It is pretty well-known we are looking to try and identify who will be the spinner for the future.

"Simon has got a chance in the squad, and to be that spinner if he gets selected for the match."

Whoever plays at Lord's, the seamers particularly can only hope conditions bear little resemblance to what was endured at Trent Bridge - where groundsman Steve Birks took the unusual step of apologising for the pitch on day one.

Moores will be understandably frustrated if Lord's too plays to India's strengths, rather than England's.

"If it is a wicket with bounce in it, we back ourselves," he said.

"We will ask for what we want - pace and bounce - and we'll pitch up and hope to get what we regard as a good cricket wicket."

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