Alastair Cook expressed his pride in England’s victory over Pakistan in the third Investec Test at Edgbaston – and admitted his players were again lifted by the superb atmosphere they have come to expect at the stadium.
England completed a stunning comeback victory by 141 runs by bowling Pakistan out for 201 on the final day.
It was an excellent, highly resilient all-round display by Cook’s side and sends them down to The Oval on Thursday for the final Test 2-1 up and unable to lose the series.
And the captain pinpointed the support from the stands as a big factor – especially on the fourth evening when Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow built their decisive partnership to a buoyant backdrop of noise from the Hollies Stand.
“It’s another win for us at Edgbaston and we had great support again,” Cook said. “Yesterday, when the crowd was singing that song where they just carried on singing for about 45 minutes, it was really loud and Mo came in and said how good that crowd was.
“Everyone was sitting on the balcony watching and the support we have had from the fans all week has been brilliant. We really appreciate them coming out.”
Cook rated the victory as one of the most satisfying so far in his time as England captain, as it was so hard-earned against high-quality opposition who had much the better of the first two days.
“It’s right up there,” he said. “I was really proud of the way we hung in there all through. We were never leading the game but then got our chance on the fourth afternoon when Mo and Bluey put the pressure on them and then the guys bowled brilliantly today.
“Everyone in the dressing-room is feeling very proud because everyone contributed. I think the team might have toughened up a little bit because when we were batting on the fourth day it was hard going and we weren’t scoring any runs but everyone dug in. We knew if we could bat deep into the last session we could hurt them and that’s what happened.”
Cook was delighted with the blend of fighting spirit and skill which earned his team a win that sends them into the final Test with a chance of regaining Number One status in the world – but he insists there is a lot more improvement in them yet.
“As a side we have been very good when we are ahead and have been dominant,” he said. “But this is the first game for a while where we have been behind and fought back. When we batted the second time I saw a side really determined to do what we said we would do – and that’s very pleasing for a captain.
“It has to happen a lot more before we can say we are anywhere near where we want to be, but it’s a good step along the way.”