England captain Alastair Cook believes he is still improving as a batsman, despite his long wait for a Test hundred following him to Grenada.
Cook is his country’s leading century maker with 25, but has not reached three figures since May 2013 – a gap of 33 Test innings and counting.
You’re always constantly trying to tinker with technique.Alastair Cook
He is hardly in crisis at present, with three scores of 70 or more in his last four Tests, but cricket’s obsession with landmarks means he will not be free from questions about his own form until he ticks off a 26th ton.
His next chance comes today when England take on the West Indies in the second Test in St George’s, looking to improve on an attritional draw in Antigua.
Cook admits he took to studying old footage of his technique earlier in the year and although he spotted differences along the way, he is happier than ever with his method.
“I did have a look back in early February and watched a little bit and it has changed quite a lot,” he said.
“It’s evolutionary. If you tried to go back to exactly what you did it would probably be really unnatural.
“You’re always constantly trying to tinker with technique. You might fall into certain habits at times throughout your career… that is the batters’ charter in one sense, you’re always tinkering a little bit.
“But the most important thing is that when you’re out in the middle you’re not concentrating too much on technique, you’re concentrating on what is important: that ball coming down to you in the situation and conditions you’re in.
“I’d like to think my game has improved over time. I definitely believe it has, it’s just different.
“But I’m desperate to set the tone well at the top of the order. It’s always important, every time you play for England.
“As a top order batter it’s great to score runs and help England win.”
As skipper, Cook is never free to concentrate solely on his own game and must also plot the course to victory.
England had the better of things at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium last week, but came up three wickets short on the final day as the pitch failed to deteriorate. A similar battle is likely to face the bowlers over the next five days, leaving Cook to ponder ways in which he can assist the cause.
“As captain that’s why it’s such a good job for a lot of the time,” he said. “You have to think on your feet. At times you have to be proactive and at others you have to sit in. You have to do different things. It certainly wasn’t a three slips and a gully wicket in Antigua, where you let the ball do the work.
“I thought the way we built a lot of pressure on their scoring rate, particularly in the field, was good and that created a few poles for us. I don’t think the blueprint will change too much here unless the wicket surprises us.”
England appear likely to make one change to their XI, with James Tredwell most vulnerable to Moeen Ali’s expected return.
Moeen joined the squad on Saturday after recovering from an abdominal injury suffered at the World Cup and should slot back in as a spin bowling all-rounder.
Tredwell hurt his arm in the closing overs of the first Test diving in vain for catch, but Cook held open the possibility that either he or leg-spinner Adil Rashid could join Moeen if the pitch appeared responsive.
“That is a thought,” he said.
“We will just have to have a look. We haven’t got too much information because the last Test match here was in 2009.
“So we’re going to have to look at that wicket, use our experience and try and pick the best side.
“But it’s great to have Mo back. He was a big part of our success in the summer, with his wickets, and it certainly adds competition for selection.”
The game is only the third Test to be played in Grenada and a crowd of more than 11,000 is expected on the first two days on an island with a population just over 100,000.