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Cook fears for Test cricket after ECB announces new format

The former England captain is his country’s leading run-scorer in the longest form of the game.

Former England captain Alastair Cook fears for the longest form of the game after the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal for a 100-ball format.

Cook is England’s leading run-scorer in Test cricket and has made his name as one of the most durable players in the five-day game, but no longer features in any white-ball cricket for his country.

The ECB last week announced plans for a new city-based tournament, set to launch in 2020, which will be even shorter than the Twenty20 format and has polarised opinion.

With the focus moving further and further away from Test cricket, the 33-year-old is worried for the format of the game where he has been so prolific.

Cook was speaking at an event to celebrate the return of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week with cricket charity, Chance to Shine. Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week will take place 18th to 22nd June, giving thousands of children across the country the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.

“Yeah I do worry,” he said. “It’s easy to see that certain crowds at certain Test matches – although not in this country – are down in numbers.

“When I watch Twenty20 cricket there’s a different satisfaction.

“There’s a bit of a thing at the moment about white-ball skills and it’s going to be very different.

“At this moment in time, why would you put yourself through the stresses and strains of the five-day game when you can play three-hour, or two-and-a-half-hour crash-bang-wallop?

“For a deep-down cricket fan, it’s very different to what we know, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t go back the other way.

“Obviously I want to protect Test cricket, because I have a real affinity to it.

“But I would have that affinity even if I was playing T20, more from satisfaction. Do they get the same satisfaction?

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Alastair Cook had a disappointing winter for England

“Maybe the next generation will. But that hundred you get in six hours is a very satisfying feeling, a real triumph of skill.

“I don’t quite see that in the 20-over game. Or the 100-ball game. But the landscape is changing.”

The prospect of Cook making any more six-hour hundreds for England is again a point of discussion after a disappointing winter Down Under.

The left-hander registered only 376 in seven Tests against Australia and New Zealand – and 244 of those came in one innings.

The ECB has since appointed Ed Smith as selector and Cook accepts that he could come under scrutiny, but his desire to score runs is as great as ever.

He added: “My job never changes – it’s to score runs at the top of the order. There’s been times throughout my career where people have questioned my place like they are questioning it now – that hasn’t changed.

“If someone taps me on the shoulder and tells me they don’t want me to open the batting for England it is going to hurt at this precise moment of time because I want to carry on.”

Cook earlier gave his backing to the ECB’s new 100-ball competition, in an interview with Sky Sports.

“If you went back to 2003 when the ECB first launched T20 cricket, if social media had been around then I’m sure quite a few people would probably have kicked up the same amount of fuss as they have here,” he said.

“It’s different, it’s exciting. How it all works with the County Championship and Test matches and when it’s played, a lot of that (planning) is still to be done. But I think it’s another interesting step for cricket.”

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