Alastair Cook barely broke sweat as he became England’s all-time leading Test centurion and gave Nick Compton all the confidence he needs as his new opening partner, too.
Cook famously keeps his cool when the heat is on anywhere in the cricketing world and there were no signs of any uncharacteristic perspiration at Eden Gardens yesterday, even as he broke a 73-year-old record for the most hundreds by an English batsman.
Wally Hammond scored his 22nd just ten days before the outbreak of the Second World War, and four others – including Cook and team-mate Kevin Pietersen – have equalled his mark.
But, on day two of the third Test against India, “unflappable” Cook duly went one better – a few minutes after becoming the youngest batsman from any country to reach 7,000 Test runs.
Compton, in his first series at the age of 29, is two years Cook’s senior and had a landmark of his own to celebrate during their stand of 165 when he made his maiden 50 at the highest level.
By stumps, Cook (136no) had carried England to 216 for one – exactly 100 runs behind, with massive power to add – and into prime position to push for a 2-1 series lead with one more match to play.
Compton is struck especially by the calmness Cook transmits down the 22 yards, and felt privileged to be directly involved at such close quarters.
“Standing out there, looking up at the board and seeing those stats – 7,000 runs, the youngest player to do that – it was quite an amazing moment,” he said. “I thought: ‘I’m batting with this guy, he’s just got another hundred and he’s the all-time leading English hundred-maker.’”
Compton, grandson of the great Denis – who followed Hammond into bat at the Oval all those years ago – has trodden a very different path to Test cricket from Cook, who was a Test player at 21 and now has five successive centuries in his role as captain – another record.
“It speaks volumes that he has been able to do that from a young age, and still is a young player,” added Compton.
“A lot of players only find their feet at perhaps my age, 28 or 29, but he did it a long time before.”
Compton likens Cook’s presence to that of another he knows even better, ex-England opener Marcus Trescothick.
“To bat with him is quite similar, in some ways, to batting with Trescothick back at Somerset,” said Compton. “It’s how clinical they are with every delivery, very few mistakes and every ball played in similar fashion.
“It’s a mark of a serious player that he does the simple things very, very well and for a long period of time. “He gives the other players a lot of confidence out there because he’s so solid. I feel like I’ve got a really good bond with him.
“Even if not much is being said, between balls there’s a little look and a little nod that we’re both in it together. He’s very unflappable, not a lot of airs and graces, and just gets on and does it.
“It makes a big difference to have someone who’s so chilled out at the other end.”
Compton was a little frustrated to have to settle for 57 before being out lbw to Pragyan Ojha, but said: “I’m really chuffed. It would be nice to have gone on, of course. But, if you’d told me I’d get my maiden 50 today, I would have taken it – no doubt.”
And radio commentator Geoffrey Boycott backed Cook to extend the record: “He’s going to get a lot more unless he suffers some serious illness or injury. He’s got a sound technique, he’s the captain so he’ll automatically get picked, he’ll be way up towards 40 by the time he’s finished, high 30s maybe.”