Alistair Cook helped silence some of his critics by scoringa careful and gutsy 95 against India on the first day of the Third Test atHampshire’s Rose Bowl ground. He fell agonisingly 5 runs short of what wouldhave been a first century in 27 innings, but he showed signs of the ability thatseemed to have deserted him this year.

Prior to this match, he had scored only 129 runs in 2014 atan average of 14.33 during a winless run in which England have lost seven anddrawn two matches.

For many, the batting collapse on the final day of the LordsTest match was a step too far, handing India a 1-0 series lead.

After thematch, there were calls from many quarters, including former captains MichaelVaughan and Kevin Pietersen, for Cook to stand down as England captain. The wayin which he went about scoring runs on Sunday show signs that a recovery maynot be too far away.

At the press conference following defeat in the last Test,Cook was unable to explain why the team had gone from Ashes conquering heroesin 2013 to an Ashes whitewash in Australia, followed by a home series defeat toSri Lanka and now being behind in the current India series, he said, “If we get 11people playing to their potential and we win a game of cricket, that moment ofgoing through tough times will make it feel a lot better… I want to carry on.

Iwant to be sitting there with some runs and a win.”

Perhaps this match could be the turning point for Cook as acaptain and as a player. Whilst he described himself as “frustrated” for notpassing 100, he achieved his first target in that he has started making runsagain.

By scoring his 95, he also became the third highest Test run scorer inEnglish history, passing David Gower’s 8,231 from 117 Tests.

Perhaps we areseeing the green shoots of his form recovering? His next priority therefore is to secure a win.

This time, histeam has responded to his call to action. The Rose Bowl witnessed anothercentury by Gary Balance, his third in only his sixth Test and a first centuryin 19 tests for Ian Bell – another who has been experiencing a temporary rundrought.

Bell’s innings also saw him surpass 7,000 career runs.

Before today,Bell had averaged only 21.89 this calendar year. After significant withdrawals from the England squad thisyear with the departures of Kevin Pietersen, Graham Swann and Johnathan Trottas well as Matt Prior’s decision to undergo surgery following the Lord’sdefeat, places have been made available for young players to make their mark.

There have been impressive performances by Ballance, Joe Root and Moeen Ali,and Josh Buttler announced himself today on to the Test arena with a blistering85.

It is the senior players who have yet to impose themselves, leaving veryfew natural successors to Cook at this stage. Hopefully, his resurgence of formin this Test will continue and he can prove his doubters wrong.

Cook currentlysits on 8,257 and his career average is an impressive 45.71 from 109 matches.At the age of only 29, you feel that there is still a lot more to come from him.The reception that he got during this match as he left the field makes you feelthat the public would love him to turn it around.

Hopefully England can stillmake it a winning summer of cricket.

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