The master and the apprentice meet

THE master and the apprentice go head-to-head as England face India in a mouthwatering Test series starting at Lord’s today.

Essex batsman Alastair Cook, who will open the batting for England, will be lining up against legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Cook, whose family home is in Wickham Bishops and who played for nearby Maldon in his teenage years, is bang in form going into the series as England bid to knock India off their perch and so become the No.1 ranked Test nation in the world.

During Cook’s record-breaking run-feast in the Ashes Series against Australia in the winter the 26-year-old became the second youngest player to pass 5,000 Test runs – a landmark bettered only by Tendulkar, now 38, at the age of 25.

Cook’s hunger for run-gathering, form and fitness permitting, should see him become one of the most prolific batsmen ever to play the game at the highest level – the status that Tendulkar, who enters the series with 99 international centuries to his name, has already achieved in his career.

Former Essex and England captain Graham Gooch, who as his batting coach has done so much to develop Cook at both county and international level, admitted he would be happy to see Tendulkar celebrate a century of centuries – as long as he waits until after this Test series.

Gooch was in opposition to Tendulkar when he scored his first Test century as a 17-year-old at Old Trafford in 1990, and he knows England will be determined to deny him on this occasion.

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He said: “The 11 guys will be doing their utmost to stop him achieving that.

“He’s a great ambassador for the game. He’s been a wonderful cricketer for more than 20 years.

“I wish him all the best for the rest of his career because he’s been an absolute icon and an inspiration for a lot of people around the world. But I’d like to think he could wait four Tests to get that 100th 100.”

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