Boycott tips Cook to pass 40-ton mark after England record falls

FORMER England batsman Geoff Boycott tipped Alastair Cook to reach 40 Test centuries after the captain extended his purple patch with a record-breaking 23rd hundred yesterday in India.

Cook, 27, also became the youngest man to amass 7,000 Test runs as his 136 not out put England firmly in the driving seat in the third match, the tourists finishing day two 216-1 in reply to India’s 316.

The left-hander surpassed the 22 Test hundreds of Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Kevin Pietersen and Boycott himself, who predicted Cook would edge closer to Indian Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 51.

“He’s going to get a lot more unless he suffers some serious illness or injury,” said Boycott. “He’s got a sound technique, he’s the captain so he’ll automatically get picked. He’ll be way up towards 40 by the time he’s finished, high 30s maybe.

“He’ll be in his best years until he’s about 32 – that’s five years. You play about 14 Tests a year so that’s about another 70 Tests, and he’ll probably get about 15 Test hundreds in that. I think he’ll be close to 40 [hundreds] by the time he’s in his early thirties, then it depends how long he plays – he might get more than that.”

Fellow opener Nick Compton (57), who enjoyed his first Test half-century and shared a stand of 165 with Cook, paid tribute to the skipper, who has made tons in all of his five matches leading England – another record.

“Standing out there today, looking up at the board and seeing those stats – 7,000 runs, the youngest player to do that – was quite an amazing moment,” he said. “It speaks volumes that he’s been able to do that from a young age.”

Compton’s exit brought Jonathan Trott to the crease in Kolkata, and he contributed 21. Earlier, spinner Monty Panesar (4-90) trapped Zaheer Khan (6) lbw and bowled Ishant Sharma (0) before India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 52 was halted by a Graeme Swann catch off Steven Finn.

COOK IN THE BOOKS

MOST ENGLAND TEST CENTURIES
23 - Alastair Cook
22 - Wally Hammond, Kevin Pietersen, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott
21 - Andrew Strauss

MOST ENGLAND TEST RUNS
8900 - Graham Gooch
8463 - Alec Stewart
8231 - David Gower
8114 - Geoff Boycott
7728 - Michael Atherton
7048 - Alastair Cook

HIGHEST ENGLAND TEST AVERAGE
60.73 - Herbert Sutcliffe
59.23 - Eddie Paynter
58.67 - Ken Barrington
58.45 - Wally Hammond
56.94 - Jack Hobbs
56.67 - Len Hutton
55.00 - Ernest Tyldesley
50.34 - Alastair Cook