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England look to Cook in unlikely bid for second Test survival


By David Clough

England know Alastair Cook represents their best chance of somehow surviving six remaining sessions at Trent Bridge - or even chasing a world-record target of 474 - to stay ahead in the Investec series against South Africa.

Moeen Ali is among several England batsman who are no strangers to attempted rearguards to save matches, but he defers to stoic opener Cook as the man to lead the way over the last two days of the second Test.

Cook survived the very first ball of the second innings by overturning an lbw decision against him as the hosts reached one without loss in four overs, and England are banking on him being able to blunt the new-ball threat of Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.

Moeen, who took four wickets in South Africa's 343 for nine declared, is fully aware he will also be needed to bat well at some point, and he is adamant the task is within England's collective capabilities.

Asked about the importance of Cook's initial survival when Morkel thought he had him, the all-rounder said: "It was a big one. Thankfully it was going over.

"He's such a massive player for us tomorrow. He's the one guy in our side who we know can score big runs and also bat a long, long time.

"If there's anybody in our team that can bat six sessions it's him."

Others such as captain Joe Root will need to step up too, of course, but Moeen insists it is feasible to close out a stalemate, or even better.

"We definitely can," he said. "We've got some very good batters who are capable of doing that.

"We know Cookie, once he gets in, is very hard to get out. I hope we can see that tomorrow.

"We need a good foundation if we're going to bat the six sessions.

"The top three can be very, very solid and can bat a very long time, and we've got Joe who's in very good form. And the rest of us who can block it for a while."

Belfast Telegraph


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