Sunny south shines for Cook

Alastair Cook signs autographs for Ageas Bowl fans after England seal victory
Alastair Cook signs autographs for Ageas Bowl fans after England seal victory
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Alastair Cook praised the ‘Hampshire effect’ as England returned to winning ways at last.

The England skipper led his side to a convincing 266-run success over India to square the series 1-1 as Moeen Ali (six for 67) took the final wicket to huge roars.

With a crowd of around 10,000, including a huge walk-up figure of approximately 7,000 for the final day’s play – there was a cracking atmosphere as England searched for the six wickets they required.

And they didn’t have to wait long to savour the feeling of an England win as they wrapped it up just before lunch on the final day.

A delighted Cook, who was roared on by supporters in the face of a some fierce recent criticism, was thankful to the club and the paying public who played their part in the win.

Cook said: ‘The crowd for the whole week have been fantastic for all of us as an England side.

‘I thought the whole week at the Ageas Bowl – everyone including the groundsman and Rod Bransgrove – have been brilliant.

‘I did feel that affection towards me – it was slightly strange but a nice feeling. I actually felt it walking out to bat.

‘Then I have never experienced a standing ovation for 40 not out at lunch.

‘Gaz (Ballance) made a joke and said “I doubt you would get that at Headingley”.

‘It’s been a great week for us as an England team.’

England are now unbeaten in two Test matches at the venue – after the rain-affected draw with Sri Lanka in 2011.

And chairman Bransgrove has made no secret of his desire to bring an Ashes Test to the ground.

If the decision is made on what suits the England team best, it should be a no-brainer.

A good batting pitch also offered plenty of interest for the seam bowlers and it deteriorated enough on the final two days to bring the spinners into play.

Perhaps the only downside were some disappointing attendance figures.

After going close to the 18,000 sell-out on day one that had dipped to around 5,000 on day four before prices were slashed – with kids for a quid – for what most thought would be a shortened final day’s play.

The Sunday start will not have done many favours in terms of boosting numbers and the club officials were still satisifed with the end result.

Cook, meanwhile, felt his England side had recaptured some of their old ruthlessness as they got themselves into a commanding position in the game and never looked back.

He said: ‘We were relentless and we never let India off the hook.

‘It takes a lot of skill and determination to do that. It was very 
impressive.

‘Now the challenge is whether we can repeat that at Old Trafford.

‘We played to our potential. Over the summer, we have shown it for two sessions out of three.

‘But in this game, we have managed to keep that pressure on, whether we are bowling or batting.

‘If you get 570 in the first innings, you set up the game.

‘Scoreboard pressure played a huge part and we had as good a game as you can have.

‘It helps when the senior players step up.

‘But from one to 11, we performed really well.’