ABU DHABI: Alister cook produced the longest innings in England’s Test history, and the third-longest of all time, to stamp his authority on the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, and lay down a marker for his team’s expectations in the next two Tests.By the time he was finally dismissed, top-edging a sweep to square leg off the offspin of Shoaib Malik in the final 40 minutes of the fourth day’s play, Cook had rumbled his way along to a monumental innings of 263 – his third Test double-century and second only to his 294 against India at Edgbaston in 2011.
In all he batted for 836 minutes, four minutes shy of 14 solid hours. The innings may have finished some way shy of Hanif Mohammad’s 970-minute epic for Pakistan against West Indies in 1957-58, but it remains streets ahead of all other English contenders in Asian conditions – so often considered the final frontier for Western teams..
The match situation is now utterly moribund – by the close England, on 569 for 8, led Pakistan’s first-innings 523 for 8 declared by 46 runs with two wickets still in hand. The one real opportunity for this to be a grandstand finish had been for England to bat once, bat huge, and hope that Pakistan collapsed in a heap on the final day.
Pakistan’s late scalps were due reward for their toil but Cook’s magnificence transcended all other factors – the heat, the pitch, the opposition. The final day offers a chance for England to turn the screw on a fifth-day pitch, with Adil Rashid, not out alongside Stuart Broad at the close, doubtless itching to atone for his first-innings drubbing. But the life in this match departed with the England captain. He has been the heart and soul of his team, and this contest.