Captain Alastair Cook called for better quality warm-up games before and during major test series as he credited England’s first test victory over South Africa to the team’s solid preparations. Two warm-up matches ahead of the opening test at Kingsmead, which England won by 241 runs on Wednesday, allowed the tourists an air of confidence. During the build-up, their top six batsmen scored 50 or more. “We also had two pretty good warm-up games before we played Pakistan (in the United Arab Emirates in October) in terms of the quality of the opposition but we could have done with one being a first class game,” said Cook who travelled with his team mates from Durban to Cape Town on Thursday for the second test that starts on Saturday. “I think a first class game helps, it makes you concentrate your mind. It’s quite easy when you are playing a game with 13, 14, 15-a-side, it does become a little more relaxed.” England began their South Africa tour with a match against an Invitation XI at Potchefstroom and then played a first class fixture against South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg, which they won in convincing fashion. “That’s why it is so good to start well, it can only give you confidence,” he added.

Cook also feels England could do with another first class match in the middle of their four-match test series against South Africa, although this is not scheduled with the tests taking place back-to-back. “After two test matches to play a game in between is just as important. That doesn’t happen due the length of tours. So when you get do in a rut on a tour, it’s very hard to get out of it. There’s no other cricket to go around,” he said. Major tours used to be ponderous affairs with matches against provincial opposition between tests, which were well spaced out. However, the popularity of limited overs cricket has led to an overhauling of the tour programmes. Once England have competed the fourth test from Jan. 22-26, they will put away their whites for five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa.



[Source:- REAUTERS]

By Adam