New Zealand reveal plan to target England skipper Cook

Ross McLean
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Alastair Cook’s century in Barbados was his first in 36 Test innings
NEW Zealand head coach Mike Hesson has promised that his side will target England skipper Alastair Cook in the two-Test series between the two sides, which starts on 21 May at Lord’s.

Cook’s form was a major positive for England during their drawn series against the West Indies in the Caribbean, the captain amassing 268 runs in three matches at an average of 53.60, including an elusive century in the final Test in Barbados.

The three-figure score was Cook’s first in 36 Test innings, coincidentally dating back to his ton against New Zealand at Headingley in May 2013, and Hesson insists that containing the 30-year-old opening batsman is imperative to the Black Caps’ chances of success.

“We’ve been able to have success against Alastair home and away, bar the Test at Leeds,” said Hesson, who wants his side to use the perception they are an “entree” before the Ashes as motivation and prove they deserve a greater billing in future.

“If he [Cook] gets in he’s a tough man to get rid of, so the first 10 to 15 balls are pretty important. New-ball bowling is important for us, the way Trent Boult and Tim Southee start sets the tone for the Test match.

“I know Trent asks some pretty tough questions with the angle and swing he creates so hopefully we can get it swinging over here and challenge him early on.”

International exile Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, insists former captain Andrew Strauss, who is favourite to land the newly-created role of ECB director of cricket, would have some big decisions to make in a bid to reverse England’s flagging fortunes.

One outstanding issue in Strauss’ in-tray is likely to be the potential recall to the England fold of Pietersen, who was sacked by the ECB in February 2014 following the Ashes whitewash against Australia the previous winter.

“I hope Strauss and the ECB bring the public back to the team after a treacherous 15 months,” tweeted Pietersen yesterday. “They owe it to the fans. He has some huge decisions. Hope he gets them right.”

England play their first one-day international since a dismal World Cup showing tomorrow, against Ireland in Dublin.