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.


Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

Updated 23 September 2018
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Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

  • Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts
  • Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder

LONDON: Britain’s Anthony Joshua believes his long-awaited clash with fellow world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will take place as it would be “silly not to.”
But promoter Eddie Hearn has warned a deal must be agreed quickly if the American is to be Joshua’s next opponent.
Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts with brutal a seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
He is already booked in to box again at Wembley on April 13, but the question of an opponent has still to be resolved.
Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder, who holds the World Boxing Council version of the heavyweight title, next.
“We have to fight, it would be silly not to” Joshua told reporters after inflicting the first stoppage-loss of Povetkin’s professional career.
Wilder, however, is next due to face Britain’s former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on December 1.
Talks between the Joshua and Wilder camps have stalled and Hearn is worried a fight that will be worth far more than the “peanuts” of an initially offered $50 million could be derailed.
If Fury beats Wilder, the American’s re-match clause would likely be activated, delaying both boxers from facing Joshua, the London 2012 Olympic champion who now has a professional record of 22 wins from 22 fights, with 21 knockouts.
“Being British, we’d like Fury to win, but for April, Wilder must win if that’s going to happen,” said Hearn.
“We’re not willing to wait until December to see. A deal must be done in advance of that, subject to him winning.
“But now, after 80,000 (the estimated crowd at Wembley) and the worldwide exposure and after the finish (against Povetkin) that offer (made previously, by the Wilder camp) will look like absolute peanuts when this fight is made.”
“That is the biggest fight in boxing; Wilder-Fury is a really good fight to see who’s the second best heavyweight in the world. Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko was the biggest fight in British boxing history, and Joshua-Wilder would eclipse that. We want that now.”
Hearn insisted: “We’re not waiting for time-wasters; we understand if they lose we’ll have to find another opponent, but if you win, we’re not waiting until December.
“These aren’t negotiations that will take 24 hours, and Joshua’s career is not being slowed down. If they don’t want to do that, we’ll fight someone else.”
Fury has previously said on social media that Joshua will never fight him but Hearn witheringly added: “Tyson Fury is the least entertaining fighter I’ve ever seen.
“He’s never been in a good fight, apart from against Steve Cunningham (in 2013), when he got knocked down.”
Meanwhile the 28-year-old Joshua said he too had no intention of being messed about by Wilder.
“If Wilder’s not serious, there’s other people out there; when he’s ready, we’re ready.”
Joshua added: “Good luck to them both (Wilder and Fury) — boxing needs it.
“I’ve had the burden of the heavyweight division on my back for some years, because it was all about me fighting Wilder, Fury, Klitschko, Dillian (Whyte), Povetkin. That’s all they were interested in — me fighting them all.
“So I’m happy those two are fighting. April 13 is booked, so whichever heavyweight is serious, we can look at making a deal. I have no interest in who wins; I’m not fussed.”
Joshua was rocked by Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic champion, in the first round. But he insisted the 39-year-old Russian had not broken his nose.
“These guys the last thing they lose is their power, but it was a good way to wake up,” Joshua said.
As for what lay behind his own public appeal, Joshua added: “The appeal is losing — who is going to be the man to beat me? Sometimes you have to go in there and really earn your money.
“Povetkin was a tough challenger for sure, but I knew how to break him down.
“I wasn’t looking for the knockout but the instinct told he was hurt. I knew how to tidy up and I knew it was time to get out of there.”