Hoggard backs Cook for better

England

England captain Alastair Cook has found support in the form of former fast bowler Matthew Hoggard, amid an uncharacteristically poor stretch of form.

England captain Alastair Cook has found support in the form of former fast bowler Matthew Hoggard, amid an uncharacteristically poor stretch of form.

Cook's relatively substandard contributions with the bat in the ongoing Ashes series have been overshadowed by the team's 14-run success in Nottingham, 347-run victory in London and Monday's rain-affected draw in Manchester.

While the three results have allowed the hosts to retain the coveted Ashes title, Cook's failures in a strong order lined with the in-form Ian Bell, Lord's centurion Joe Root and Old Trafford centurion Kevin Pietersen is cause for concern.

"Cook went through a patch where he didn't know where his off-stump was and he kept on nicking off. Everybody was questioning his technique and asking if he should be at the top of the order," Hoggard told <i>talkSPORT</i>.

"But Alastair's strength is his mental strength and he's been working really hard with batting coach Graham Gooch who he knows from Essex and he's such a solid character he will find a way of getting through this.

"Whether he's having a fantastic innings where everything's easy on the eye or struggling for runs he has that mental toughness and a will to win. Of this I'm quite sure, Cook will get there."

Alongside the left-handed Cook's recent shortfalls, which have brought just 145 runs in six innings, are those of the right-handers Jonathan Trott and Bairstow. The former has scored a mere 122 runs in six knocks and the latter 161 in five.

"The England batsmen haven't been the best and the top order has struggled at times, being 40 for three or 30 for three in too many innings. I can't just say that's the batsmen struggling though, you take your hats off to the Aussie bowlers standing up and being counted," added Hoggard.

The fourth – and penultimate – Test will get underway at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street, Durham, on Friday.

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