Fairytale ton for Alastair Cook in last Test as England close in on victory over India

Cook scored his 33rd and final Test ton on a memorable day at the Oval. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Fairytale ton for Alastair Cook in last Test as England close in on victory over India

Alastair Cook marked his final England innings with a fairytale 100 before James Anderson became the joint most successful fast bowler in Test history by sparking an India collapse at the Oval on Monday.

Cook made 147 and Joe Root, his successor as England captain, 125 as the hosts piled up 423 for eight declared in their second innings of the fifth Test.

Anderson then had both Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara plumb lbw as India, needing 464 for an unlikely win, slumped to one for two in reply.

That double strike meant Anderson had equalled Australia great Glenn McGrath’s mark for the most Test wickets taken by any fast bowler of 563.

India captain Virat Kohli, a thorn in England’s side with 593 runs this series, was then caught behind for a golden duck off Stuart Broad to leave the tourists reeling.

At stumps, India — already 3-1 down in this five-match series — were heading for defeat at 58 for three, despite KL Rahul’s gutsy 46 not out, with no side having made more in the fourth innings to win a Test than the West Indies’ 418 for seven against Australia at St. John’s, Antigua in 2002/03.

The day belonged to the 33-year-old Cook, who is retiring from international cricket after this match.

The Essex left-handed opener, who made 104 not out on debut against India at Nagpur in 2006, became just the fifth player to score a hundred in both their first and last Tests after Australia’s Reggie Duff, Bill Ponsford and Greg Chappell and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin.

England resumed on 114 for two, 154 runs ahead, with Cook 43 not out and Root unbeaten on 29.

A capacity crowd, willing Cook to score a hundred following his first-innings 71, gave him the first of several standing ovations as he walked out to bat on a sunny morning.

And he soon had another when Cook, from his second ball of the bay, turned fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah legside for four to go to fifty.

Cook later cut left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for another well-struck boundary.

But Root was reprived on 46 when an edge off Jadeja was dropped by Ajinkya Rahane at slip.

It was another blow to an India side handicapped by the loss of fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who bowled just eight overs in the innings before succumbing to an ankle injury.

When Cook squirted a single off Mohammed Shami he moved past Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara’s tally of 12,400 runs and into fifth place in the list of all-time leading Test run-scorers.

Meanwhile Root drove Jadeja for six.

Cook, about to become a father for the third time, was already England’s leading Test run scorer and century maker, with this match seeing him extend his national appearance record to 161 Tests.

He completed his 33rd Test century in unusual fashion when, having run a single to go to 97, a wild overthrow from Bumrah gave him four bonus runs.

It was his first Test hundred since a marathon 244 against Australia at Melbourne in December.

Root, 92 not out at lunch, was dropped on 94 by first slip Pujara, perhaps distracted by diving wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, off Shami.

A quick single saw an elated Root to his first Test hundred since he made 136 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August 2017.

But with the England captains past and present in command while sharing a third-wicket stand of 259, they both fell in successive balls to part-time off-spinner and Test debutant Hanuma Vihari.

Root saw a slog-sweep held in the deep and, with the batsmen having crossed, Cook faced the next ball only to be caught behind by Pant edging a cut.

It was the end of a near six-and-a-half hour innings of 286 balls including 14 fours.

Once more spectators were on their feet, Cook bowing out with a record of 12,472 Test runs, including 33 hundreds, at an average of 45.35.

England’s tail then hit out against a ragged and demoralized India before Root declared.

The day’s play ended with Cook fielded the ball at short leg, prompting yet more cheers and another ovation as he led England off the field.


Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

Updated 22 September 2018
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Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

  • Mohamed Salah's record-breaking season has focused attention on the Premier League's Muslim players and fans.
  • Past three players to win Player of the Year have all been Muslim.

LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. 
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim. 
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez. 
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News. 
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.” 
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged. 
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.” 
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch. 
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.” 

Mohamed Salah has created a positive image of Muslims during his record-breaking year in the Premier League. 


Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration. 
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said. 
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer. 
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed. 
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends. 
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.” 
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football? 
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000. 
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels. 
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.” 
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.” 
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season. 
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.” 
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”

N'Golo Kante has been one of the best players in England's top-flight since he moved to the Premier League three years ago. 


This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches. 
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.” 
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah. 
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.” 
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said. 
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches. 
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”