at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – England captain Alastair Cook will “stay strong” in the remainder of the home series with India, according to coach Peter Moores after the opening batsman's struggles continued in the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge.
The latest in a run of a low scores came at Nottingham where the left-hander was bowled round his legs off the thigh pad for five to take his tally for the calendar year to a mere 97 runs in seven Test innings.
It also meant Cook had now gone 25 knocks since scoring the last of his England record 25 hundreds more than a year ago, during which time he has averaged a meagre 24.
Meanwhile, the draw left England without a win in nine Tests, their worst run for more than 20 years.
However, England have put an immense amount of faith in Cook, who oversaw the team's 5-0 Ashes capitulation in Australia, citing the need to back their skipper as a reason for sending star batsman Kevin Pietersen into international exile.
And with Moores having been recalled as England coach after Andy Flower stood down following the Ashes debacle, as well as a new managing director in Paul Downton and national selector in James Whitaker are settling into their roles, there is clearly no mood among the England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy for further upheaval on the field as well.
Cook will be back in the spotlight on Thursday when the second Test starts at Lord's, with the entire series crammed into just 42
“It is a tough time when you are not getting runs,” said Moores. “But Alastair is a tough player, as he has shown throughout his career.
“It is a five-match series, and in a five-match series I expect Alastair to come through strongly Ä because he is a top-flight player. He has to stay strong.”
As for the way in which Cook got out at Trent Bridge, Moores said: “It was an extraordinary dismissal.
“It happens in cricket – you maybe get one in a career, two if you are unlucky.
“To get one when you desperately need a score is tough. I hope that's the end of it for him now, and he gets a few breaks.”
Moores added: “He has been through this situation before, and that is what makes great Test players - they can ride through it and come back strong.”
Cook, and England, could do with the emergence of a frontline spinner particularly if the pitch at Lord's is, in what seems to be something of a trend in England this season, as docile as the Trent Bridgetrack.
England have added Lancashire slow-left armer Simon Kerrigan to their squad after Moeen Ali, primarily a batsman, conceded more than 200 runs in the first Test.
But whether Kerrigan, whose lone previous Test saw him smashed for 53 runs in a mere eight wicketless overs by Australia at The Oval in last year's drawn Ashes finale, is the answer to the question of who is best-placed to fill the gap created by Graeme Swann's retirement remains open to debate.
“He had a tough debut, yes,” Moores, who knows Kerrigan well from his time as Lancashire coach, admitted.
“He has worked extremely hard to get himself where he wants to be. He is a very talented bowler, a very talented young man.
“It is pretty well-known we are looking to try and identify who will be the spinner for the future.
“Simon has got a chance in the squad, and to be that spinner if he gets selected for the match.” – Sapa-AFP