Under-fire England skipper Alastair Cook gets to smile at last with first Test wicket (From Halstead Gazette)
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Under-fire England skipper Alastair Cook gets to smile at last with first Test wicket
Updated 7:47pm Sunday 13th July 2014 in Sport
UNDER-FIRE England captain Alastair Cook had at last cause for a smile as he took his first Test wicket on the final day's play of their draw with India.
As the series opener at Trent Bridge petered out to a farcical end, with neither side able to press for victory, Cook decided to bowl himself and rest his frontline attack.
Improbably, he managed to snare the wicket of Ishant Sharma with his rag-tag collection of mimicry and loopy tweakers to give the Essex man some much needed cheer.
Although Cook leaves Nottingham as a Test wicket-taker, he also does so with many unanswered questions about his form.
He made just five in the first innings before being bowled in unusual fashion around his legs and via the thigh pad and, perhaps surprisingly, was not invited to bat again on the final evening as India opted against declaring.
He has not scored a Test century in his last 25 knocks and averages just over 13.
Former England captain and wicketkeeper Alex Stewart is the latest big name to question Cook's form, saying on the morning of the final day's play, that it might be best for his game to resign his captaincy.
Stewart said in the Sunday Mirror: "I certainly don't want him dropped from the side as I believe he will repay the selectors' faith in him with a bucket-load of runs soon. But relieving him of the burden of captaincy may accelerate his return to form.
"Captaining a side that isn't winning allied with your own lack of contributions with the bat is soul-destroying. I can't believe Cook is enjoying his cricket at the moment and if the captaincy responsibilities were removed it might freshen up his mind and allow him to solely concentrate on his batting.
"It would be a brave decision to stand down from the helm but one Cook should seriously consider. Giving up the England captaincy is not something that should be taken lightly and Cook will be aware of that. I wouldn't see it as a weak move on his part.
"Only a strong character would do this and Cook is certainly that type of person. It would be in the best interests of the team and Cook himself because if he continues to captain a side that isn't winning and offers nothing with the bat he would have to be dropped."
But Cook remains unbowed and he is not hiding from the challenge in front of him.
He said: "I've had a couple of chop ons, then bowled hitting your thigh pad...it's a testing game and these things happen when you're not in the best of form," he said.
"But it's how you react to them and what you're doing in your practice. If you suddenly change everything you're not being true to yourself.
"I've got to believe the wheel will turn at some stage. I need to start scoring runs at the top of the order for England.
"For a year I haven't done it now and I need to do it. Simple."