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Neil Fairbrother: An exciting 2017 in prospect
Article posted: 03 January 2017

Alasdair Cook is not only a fantastic Test match batsman with a stubborn streak for scoring runs, he is also capable, as we have already seen, of picking himself up, dusting himself down and moving forward when all seems lost.

- Neil Fairbrother

Happy new year to everybody.

The start of 2017 means it is seven months until the next England Test match and therefore there is an end for now to the trials and tribulations of Alasdair Cook’s captaincy and the fortunes of the Test match team.

Amid the furore of the last day of Test cricket in Chennai, where England succumbed in a very tired manner, it was difficult to see how Alasdair Cook was going to take the team into 2017.

Cook’s interview at the end of play, in particular his look, reminded me of how some of our greatest Test match captains looked at the end of their tenures, haunted and exhausted.

But Alasdair Cook is not only a fantastic Test match batsman with a stubborn streak for scoring runs, he is also capable, as we have already seen, of picking himself up, dusting himself down and moving forward when all seems lost.

As time goes forward into January, and no doubt the captain’s pain is receding by the day, I guess it less and less likely that he may retire from tossing the coin.

The team travel back to India on Thursday for a six-match ODI and T20 campaign that will start the build-up to this summer’s Champions Trophy in England. It’s amazing that in the space of 18 months how we have now got such a talented young group of one-day batsmen.

Competition for batting spots is higher than it has been for many years and some very good players will not be in the squad come the end of May.

The bowling department doesn’t look quite as exciting and their places look a lot more open for people to put their name on. The team will never have been better prepared and more of a bookies’ favourite than they have been at the start of the competition and let’s hope Andrew Strauss’s mantra of trying to push the ODI side to the fore brings early dividends.

Coming back to the present, the six games in India will be a massive test for this young England squad and won’t particularly be a pointer to the tournament here in the summer as conditions will be so different.

There are lots of ODIs between now and then, culminating in a number at the start of our summer in English conditions. This is all perfect preparation for a second England win in a world competition.

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