Hussain proud of Cook mental strength

England

Former skipper Nasser Hussain lauded the mental fortitude displayed by captain Alastair Cook, as England clinched command on day one of the third Test against India at the Rose Bowl.

Former skipper Nasser Hussain lauded the mental fortitude displayed by captain Alastair Cook, as England clinched command on day one of the third Test against India at the Rose Bowl.

Cook remains almost 30 innings without a century in the longest format of the international game, but returned to form with a redemptive 95 in a total of 247 for two at Southampton on Sunday.

"It shows great strength. The pressure he has been under for quite a long time, both with his own game and with England losing, is absolutely immense, so it was great mental strength to produce that innings," Hussain told <i>Sky Sports</i>.

"He is still a work in progress and it is whether he can carry this on, but England and England fans want him to go back to being the run machine that he once was – and he was nearly there on Sunday.

"He will be England's leading run-getter. He was always going to get runs. But can he go back to being the player he was, with captaincy weighing heavily on his shoulders?"

The talented Gary Ballance, meanwhile, solidified a burgeoning role in the first-choice Test XI with a fine 104 not out on Sunday. Striking 15 boundaries in front of an appreciative crowd, the Zimbabwean-born left-hander welcomed the third ton of a promising international career.

"It is remarkable how quickly he has taken to Test match cricket. Ballance had that one game in Sydney when no-one could work out if he was a Test match player or not, but since he has come back to England he has played phenomenally well," added Hussain.

"He has his own method, which is to sit back and cut but I like the way he goes through the gears. When you see him in his first hour you think he is a bit of a plodder, looking to occupy the crease, then he goes through a little spurt where he goes boundary, boundary, boundary and he'll catch up very quickly."

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