LONDON, (Reuters) – India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis of South Africa are the only players to have amassed 40 test centuries and former England opener John Edrich believes Alastair Cook has all the tools to join the pair at the top of the batting tree.
Cook is only 26 but has accumulated 19 hundreds including a mammoth 294 during the third test in Birmingham this month as he helped England to a 4-0 series whitewash over India.
“There’s no limit to what Alastair can achieve,” Edrich told Reuters in an interview. “There’s no reason why he can’t go on and score 30 or 40 centuries if he stays fit.
“I have been very impressed with him. I think someone (in the coaching staff) has got through to Alastair recently and told him, ‘Once you get in you stay in and you don’t play so many rash shots’.”
The comparisons between Cook and Edrich are endless, both being run-hungry, left-handed openers with a limited range of strokes, although the stocky 74-year-old acknowledged that Cook was a lot taller than him.
Tendulkar has 51 test hundreds to his name and Kallis 40.
Edrich was also a prolific run-getter during his 77 appearances for England between 1963-76, making 5,138 test runs at an average of 43.54 including 12 centuries.
“Alastair just collects runs and collects runs and that’s the job of an opener,” he said.
“You have to take the shine off the ball, then go on and capitalise on what you’ve achieved in the first couple of hours. He has done that very well this summer.
“Early on you’ve got to be prepared to leave balls well alone outside off stump because they are the danger balls to a left hander,” Edrich explained.
The former Surrey captain also likened Cook’s approach to that of his former England opening partner Geoff Boycott, who compiled 22 test centuries.
“Once Geoffrey got in for a couple of hours it was odds-on he would get a big score,” Edrich said. “I watched him a lot from the other end and he played so straight and within himself.
“He knew exactly what shots he could play and he eliminated the shots he couldn’t play so well. He was great to play with because it was a case of ‘you’ll get me out over my dead body’ with Geoffrey.
“He eliminated all the risks and collected his runs. Cook is the same, he knows he doesn’t have to play too many shots,” Edrich added.
“If you can play two or three shots well that’s all you need really.”
Edrich has had his share of ups and downs in recent years and in 1999 he was given a maximum of seven years to live after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
“After five years of chemotherapy, which was extremely debilitating, I was advised to consult Dr Stefan Geider at Camphill Wellbeing Trust in Aberdeen,” he said.
“They specialise in mistletoe therapy as an integrative approach for patients with cancer. I started with mistletoe therapy in 2005 and have continued with it for the past six years.
“I remain in good health and fully enjoy life,” said Edrich who is organising his first Mistletoe for Cancer UK Golf Day at the Foxhills Club in Surrey on the outskirts of London on Sept. 28.