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Alastair Cook breaks record for most England Test hundreds against India in third Test in Kolkata

Cook is the GREATEST! Captain marvel breaks record for most England Test tons aged just 27 (…and the bad news for India is he's not done yet!)

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UPDATED:

12:00 GMT, 6 December 2012

Alastair Cook has become England's all-time leading Test century maker at the age of just 27 after reaching his 23rd hundred on the second day of the third Test against India in Kolkata today.

Cook overtook the previous record, jointly held alongside Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and current team-mate Kevin Pietersen, in his 86th match for his country.

England's captain notched his third ton in as many Tests on the tour – and he is also the first batsman to score five centuries in his first five Tests as captain in Test cricket.

Leading from the front: Alastair Cook hit his 23rd Test century on Thursday

Leading from the front: Alastair Cook hit his 23rd Test century on Thursday

Lawrence Booth: Wisden editor on why Captain Cook's remarkable runscoring will go on and on…

Statistics can mislead, but in Alastair Cook’s case they tell a story that brooks no argument.

When he drove Ishant Sharma through the covers for three in third over after tea, he became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs – younger even than Sachin Tendulkar, the man most usually associated with these dizzyling landmarks.

Tendulkar was 28 years and 193 days to Cook’s 27 years and 347 days, although he needed only 136 innings to Cook’s 151. But we’re splitting hairs.

The point is this: by the time Cook retires, we’ll look back at the 7,000-runs business and wonder what all the fuss was about.

We’ll also shrug at the fact that this was the day he went past Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen to register his 23rd Test hundred.

And, by the time the series has run its course at Nagpur, we may feel underwhelmed by his fifth century in his first five Tests as captain – a unique achievement.

His innings today summed up his career: rock-solid concentration, but with the capacity to learn. He may not have played a more unexpected shot in his life than the shimmy towards Ravi Ashwin which resulted in the straightest of sixes, right elbow high as if in defiance of his penchant for the leg side.

Since the only quiet year of his career in 2008, when he averaged 36 and failed to score a Test hundred, Cook has adapted his game bit by bit while only occasionally forgetting that his first task was to score runs.

He learned, in 2010, that too much technical tinkering wasn’t good for the soul, saving his Test career with a century at The Oval against Pakistan, then applying the lesson during a relentless Ashes.

He learned, in 2011, that he could play one-day cricket, striking at 90 when many thought him one-dimensional.

And he has relearned, in 2012, that he can bat in Asia – a truism that was evident on his debut at Nagpur more than six years ago, but was in danger of being forgotten during the traumas of the UAE and Galle.

Cook turns 28 on Christmas Day. The worry for bowlers everywhere is that there are more lessons to come.

Cook is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, beating even the great Sachin Tendulkar, a milestone he passed with his 88th on the second afternoon of the third Test as he and Nick Compton consolidated England's advantage over India.

/12/06/article-2243859-0C7438CD00000578-50_306x499.jpg” width=”306″ height=”499″ alt=”Cook notched a ton at Lord's last June” class=”blkBorder” />

Cook's ton at Lord's last June

104 v India, Nagpur, 2006

105 v Pakistan, Lord's, 2006

127 v Pakistan, Old Trafford, 2006

116 v Australia, WACA, 2006

105 v West Indies, Lord's, 2007

106 v West Indies, Old Trafford, 2007

118 v Sri Lanka, Galle, 2007

139* v West Indies, Bridgetown, 2009

160 v West Indies, Chester-le-Street, 2009

118 v South Africa, Durban, 2009

173 v Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2010

109* v Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2010

110 v Pakistan, The Oval, 2010

235* v Australia, The Gabba, 2010

148 v Australia, Adelaide, 2010

189 v Australia SCG, 2011

133 v Sri Lanka, Cardiff, 2011

106 v Sri Lanka, Lord's, 2011

294 v India, Edgbaston, 2011

115 v South Africa, The Oval, 2012

176 v India, Ahmedabad, 2012

122 v India, Mumbai, 2012

136* v India, Kolkata, 2012

Cook is congratulated by Paul Collingwood during the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last January

Cook is congratulated by Paul Collingwood during the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last January

Cook's ton against Pakistan at the Oval in August 2010 saved his career

Cook hit a century against South Africa in December 2009 in Durban

Cook's ton against Pakistan at the Oval in August 2010 possibly saved his England career (left) and it's all smiles after hitting a century at Durban in December 2009 in the drawn series against South Africa (right)

Cook was first made captain during the tour to Bangladesh, where he hit two hundreds

Cook was first made captain during the tour to Bangladesh in 2010, where he hit two hundreds

Cook scored his maiden century on his Test match debut in Nagpur in March 2006

Cook celebrates his century against Pakistan at Lords in July 2006

It all began when Cook scored his maiden century on his Test match debut in Nagpur in March 2006 (left)
and the young opening batsman celebrates another early ton against Pakistan at Lords in July 2006 (right)

England's top 10 centurions

Alastair Cook
23 centuries in 86 matches

Wally Hammond
22 in 85

Kevin Pietersen
22 in 90*

Geoffrey Boycott
22 in 108

Colin Cowdrey
22 in 114

Andrew Strauss
21 in 100

Ken Barrington
20 in 82

Graham Gooch
20 in 118

Len Hutton
19 in 79

Michael Vaughan
18 in 82

*yet to bat in 91st Test

All-time top 10 centurions

Sachin Tendulkar (India)
51 tons in 192* matches

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
44 in 158*

Ricky Ponting (Australia)
41 in 168

Rahul Dravid (India)
36 in 164

Sunil Gavaskar (India)
34 in 125

Brian Lara (West Indies)
34 in 131

Steve Waugh (Australia)
32 in 168

Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)
31 in 135*

Matthew Hayden (Australia)
30 in 103

Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
30 in 113*

*denotes still active

7,000 not out! Cook's record-breaking career by numbers

60 & 104 not out – Cook's scores on his Test debut, against India in March 2006.

294 – His highest Test score, against India in August 2011.

23 – Cook became the first England batsman to make 23 Test centuries when he reached three figures against India in Kolkata on Thursday.

27 years, 347 days – His age as he became the youngest batsman to reach 7,000 Test runs.

86 – The number of Tests Cook took to reach those two landmarks.

50.34 – Cook's Test average at the end of today's play.

Five – Cook has now made centuries in his first five Tests as England captain, including two Tests against Bangladesh as a stand-in in 2010.

29 – The number of Test half-centuries he has made, giving him a superb conversion rate of 44 per cent from fifties to hundreds.

26 – However, he went 26 innings without reaching three figures between March 2008 and February 2009.

766 – His cumulative runs in the 2010-11 Ashes series.

3,536 and nine – his tally of runs and centuries before his 25th birthday, both comfortable England records.

214 – his score for Essex against the touring Australians in 2005 which helped bring him to England's attention.

Top five England Test wins overseas

Lawrence Booth: England's victory in Mumbai is up with best overseas wins… here is where it ranks in the top five away performances

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UPDATED:

11:45 GMT, 26 November 2012

Kevin Pietersen’s brilliant 186 first innings knock and the 19 wickets taken by spin twins Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann meant that England’s 10 wicket victory over India in the second Test in Mumbai was one of their greatest wins overseas. Sportsmail cricket writer and editor of Wisden Lawrence Booth looks back at England’s top five away wins.

1) Jamaica, 1989-90: beat West Indies by nine wickets

Graham Gooch's no-hopers stun the best team in the world in their own fortress.

Winning in the Windies: The England team celebrate after beating the West Indies by 9 wickets in the first Test match in 1990

Winning in the Windies: The England team celebrate after beating the West Indies by 9 wickets in the first Test match in 1990

2) Sydney, 1894-95: beat Australia by 10 runs

England win after following on, one of only three such occasions in Test history.

Heading to Oz: The England team head to Australia by boat

Heading to Oz: The England team head to Australia by boat

3) Mumbai, 2012-13: beat India by 10 wickets

Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann share 19 wickets, plus centuries for Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen.

The spin twins: Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar celebrate the win

The spin twins: Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar celebrate the win

4) Karachi, 2000-01: beat Pakistan by six wickets

Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe embrace in the dark to secure a famous series win.

Winning in the dark: England skipper Nasser Hussain (left) celebrates as England win in Karachi

Winning in the dark: England skipper Nasser Hussain (left) celebrates as England win in Karachi

Happy dressing room: The England team celebrate after winning the Karachi Test

Happy dressing room: The England team celebrate after winning the Karachi Test

5) Melbourne, 1954-55: beat Australia by 128 runs

Frank Tyson blows Australia away with 7 for 27.

Blown away: Australia batsman Richie Benaud is caught by Godfrey Evans off the bowling of Alec Bedser in the 1954-55 series

Blown away: Australia batsman Richie Benaud is caught by Godfrey Evans off the bowling of Alec Bedser in the 1954-55 series

Simon Hughes, cricket pundit, on Guardian Soulmates website

Cricket pundit Hughes on a sticky wicket in love match

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UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 16 November 2012

Simon Hughes

Channel Five cricket pundit Simon Hughes (right) is looking for love via newspaper internet dating site Guardian Soulmates.

'Yozzer 50-year-old male' announces himself as 'warm, passionate, good company, versatile, generous, imaginative and occasionally outrageous'.

The twice married broadcaster adds: 'My friends would say I'm bright, energetic, interesting, good fun and not a bad cook.'

However, prospective girlfriends should note that Wisden lists Hughes as having his 53rd birthday next month, in contrast to the Soulmates site.

Eriksson chasing his 10m in court

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is due a High Court date next summer for his gross negligence case against the financial adviser whom it is alleged duped the Swede out of around 10million.

Eriksson has long been one of world football's highest-paid managers but it is claimed that he has lost the majority of his fortune in his dealings with Samir Khan.

Khan was given unlimited access to Eriksson's money after he started to act for him in 2003, when Sven was employed by the FA for around 4m a year. Court documents lodged in April 2011 allege that Khan 'misappropriated money for a variety of improper purposes' that included losing speculation on foreign currency markets and art.

Another rash investment saw Khan put Eriksson's cash into fellow manager Harry Redknapp's troubled luxury flats property development in Southsea, Hampshire which is reported to have losses of at least 4m.

Eriksson, at home in Sweden as he waits for his next managerial opening, is said to be 'knocked for six' by the unravelling of his dealings with Khan. The adviser has denied the claims, calling Eriksson an 'astute businessman' who is highly motivated by making money.

Ashley Young

The England players' recently introduced code of conduct, which was rolled out to the Under 21 side as well this week, specifies respecting the media – with the expectation that the team will not wear headphones when they go through the interview zone after a match. The improved attitude was demonstrated by Ashley Young (right), the chief headphone culprit at Euro 2012, carrying his set through the media area after the Sweden game rather than wearing them.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to have given an interview to ITV for their tribute programme in January to mark Jose Mourinho's 50th birthday. Documentary maker Gabriel Clarke is too good an inquisitor not to have taken the opportunity to ask Fergie whether he can see Mourinho succeeding him at Old Trafford.

Roy still a man of the fans

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson's encounter with passengers on the London Underground – in which he revealed Rio Ferdinand did not have an international future – has not put him off interacting with fans. Hodgson is speaking with FA clearance at a 75-a-head corporate dinner at Norwich tonight, organised by majority shareholder and celebrity chef Delia Smith. This should ensure the potted crab and boeuf bourguignon on the menu are of a certain standard. Hodgson is a friend of Delia and Norwich chief executive David McNally. Next Tuesday, Hodgson is also addressing the Oxford Union before taking questions from students. England's demolition at the hands of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his wonder goal will still be fresh in the memory.

The FA have identified their preferred 2014 World Cup base in Rio. The hotel is situated on the sea front not far from the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

The Rio attractions should ensure there is little likelihood of the boredom factor that was a big problem with the team's isolated Rustenburg hideaway at the World Cup in South Africa. After their city-centre experience in Krakow during Euro 2012, the FA are happy to have their England headquarters in Rio.

Manchester City, West Brom, Aston Villa and Fulham – who have been the big opponents of financial fair play regulations – again voiced opposition at yesterday's chairmen's summit discussing introduction of the rules next season.

Andrew Strauss hails England"s special home form

Skipper Strauss hails a 'special' moment with England in seventh heaven

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 29 May 2012

Andrew Strauss admitted it felt ‘special’ to pull off a record seventh straight series win at home following England’s nine-wicket victory in the second Investec Test against West Indies at Trent Bridge.

England have twice won six series in a row, but Strauss — who has been captain in all seven rubbers — said: ‘When you achieve one of these milestones you feel part of something special.

‘They’re not to be sniffed at because Test wins are not easy to come by.’

Seeing them home: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss scored the majority of England's runs in the second innings

Seeing them home: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss scored the majority of England's runs in the second innings

Despite the victory, which gave England a 2-0 lead with a game to spare and ensured the retention of the Wisden Trophy, Strauss refused to rule out rotating his seam attack for next week’s third Test at Edgbaston as England’s bowlers attempt to peak in time for the visit of the South Africans.

Strauss said: ‘We’ll definitely think about it. It’s going to be hard for bowlers to play in every match. We’ll speak to the senior players and see how they’re feeling and see how we’re looking for the rest of the summer as well.

Time for a rest Jimmy Anderson may sit out the final Test

Time for a rest Jimmy Anderson may sit out the final Test

‘But who wouldn’t want to play in a Test It’s always a hard balance to strike, because primarily you want to win every game you play.’

Premiere partners: Strauss and Cook

If England do opt to play Steven Finn in Birmingham, the most likely player to miss out would be Jimmy Anderson, who has bowled 111.1 overs in the last two Tests and has been fighting a quadriceps niggle.

Man of the match Tim Bresnan said: ‘From a personal point of view we’ve got five days off now, which is ample before the next Test, so I thoroughly expect to be fresh and available for selection.

‘Consistency is my major weapon and to keep banging it in on that length. I’m a lot thinner now, too. You don’t get through 100 overs in two weeks without being reasonably fit.’

Kumar Sangakkara makes Wisden history

Sangakkara makes history as Sri Lankan is nominated for two Wisden awards

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UPDATED:

08:47 GMT, 11 April 2012

Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara has become the first man to be named simultaneously as Wisden's leading cricketer in the world and one of its five cricketers of the year.

The elegant left-hander compiled 2,267 international runs in the three formats last year – no other player broke 2,000 – with five centuries and 13 fifties, and uniquely reached four figures in both Tests and one-day internationals for the third time.

A century in probably his last Test on English soil at Hampshire helped ensure he was named as one of the cricketers of the year, the award conferred by the publication's editor – a mantle taken on this year by Sportsmail's Lawrence Booth – on the individuals who have most shaped the English cricketing summer, and which a player can win only once.

Making history: Sangakkara (left)

Making history: Sangakkara (left)

'I had always wanted a Test hundred at Lord's but, if that was not to be, then anywhere in England,' Sangakkara tells David Hopps in the Almanack, published on Thursday.

'The Rose Bowl felt as if it might be my last opportunity.'

Sangakkara also won praise for his delivery of the MCC's Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, reproduced in part in Wisden, in which he confronted the level of government interference in his country's cricket.

'Writing that speech became a deeply personal experience,' he adds.

'I knew there were ways it could be misinterpreted, but it was a story I felt I needed to tell.'

Elegant: Sangakkara on his way to a century at the Rose Bowl last summer

Elegant: Sangakkara on his way to a century at the Rose Bowl last summer

Joining the 34-year-old as cricketers of the year are fellow veterans Glen
Chapple, Lancashire's title-winning captain and talisman, and
Worcestershire seamer Alan Richardson, the leading wicket-taker in
Division One of last season's LV= County Championship with 73.

England pair Alastair Cook, with 927 Test runs at an average of 84 in addition to his return to the one-day international side as captain, and Tim Bresnan – who took 21 Test wickets at 19, scored 189 runs at 63 and finished the summer with a 100 per ceny winning record from 10 Tests – complete the quintet.

Richardson said: 'To be recognised along world-class cricketers such as Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Glen Chapple and Kumar Sangakkara is a real honour.'

Elsewhere in the Almanack, Booth uses his first editor's notes to address a wide spread of topics, most notably the global shifting of focus towards Twenty20 cricket and the role of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in the governance of the world game.

Nominated: Glen Chapple (right)

Nominated: Glen Chapple (right)

Describing T20 as 'a Pandora's Box masquerading as a panacea', Booth adds: 'Outside England, the Test match increasingly resembles the quiet zone of world cricket's gravy train: respected in theory, ignored in practice.

'The real damage is being done by the prevalence of the two-match series. For any series not involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, three Tests must be the minimum.'

On the BCCI's power, Booth – the youngest Wisden editor in 72 years – writes: 'India have ended up with a special gift: the clout to shape an entire sport. But too often their game appears driven by the self-interest of the few.

'Other countries run the game along self-serving lines too … but none wields the BCCI's power, nor shares their responsibility.'

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2012: 149th Edition, published April 12, 2012 by John Wisden & Co.

Andrew Strauss"s England are a big hit in an incredible year for cricket

What a belter! Strauss”s England are a big hit in an incredible year for cricket

It has been an incredible year for cricket and England will start 2012 on top of the world in the Test and Twenty20 formats. Can they stay there And what were the best bits of 2011

We asked our panel of experts, former England captain, Sportsmail columnist and Sky Sports commentator Nasser Hussain, former England coach, Sportsmail columnist and Sky pundit David Lloyd and Wisden editor Lawrence Booth. Cricket Correspondent Paul Newman was in the chair…

Paul Newman: Gentlemen, there have been few better years than 2011 for the England team. What are your highlights

David Lloyd: Let”s go right back to the start and the fifth Test in Sydney. Jimmy Anderson and Tim Bresnan”s wonderful bowling and the total domination of England with hundreds from Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Matt Prior. They absolutely trounced Australia.

What a feeling! England captain Andrew Strauss with the Ashes

What a feeling! England captain Andrew Strauss with the Ashes

Nasser Hussain: We”ve turned up at Sydney with the Ashes long gone down the years and to see the SCG turned into Little Britain on the final day, with barely an Australian supporter in the place, was highly satisfying for all of us. It was great to see England finish them off in such style.

Lawrence Booth: It has been a fantastic year for England at Test level throughout. India arrived in the summer as the world”s No 1 and England just blew them away with a disciplined brand of cricket that Andy Flower has them playing. The excellence of England made up for the disappointment of India”s performances.

Hussain: I expected England to get runs against all opponents because they have such a strong batting order but what amazed me was how good the bowling was. India have some truly great players and look at the way England consistently kept them below 300 on good pitches. And that followed their success with the Kookaburra ball in Australia. What most impresses me about the attack is that they”re not one-trick ponies. England have pace, bounce, swing, reverse-swing and spin. They have adapted to all conditions so far and what they have to do now is climb the final hurdle – Asia.

Lloyd: I also enjoyed Kevin Pietersen”s double hundred at Lord”s, the emergence of Jonny Bairstow at Cardiff and, as a bit of fun, how about Rahul Dravid”s international Twenty20 debut He promptly retired from that form of the game afterwards! Newman: Let”s talk specifically about Test cricket. Are we right to be concerned about the health of the greatest form of the game

England

Good times! England”s Matt Prior (left), Andrew Strauss and Graeme Swann (right) celebrate victory over India

Booth: This is one of those moments in time when everyone is fretting about Test cricket, and with good reason. Never before has Twenty20 played such a big part in the world game. Australia v South Africa cried out for a decider but the two boards both have a stake in the Champions League and that competition ate into the time available for what should have been a longer Test series. The boards keep on saying Test cricket is the primary form, but then it has to make way for Twenty20. There is a discrepancy between what they say and do.

Lloyd: There is some fantastic Test cricket being played around the world. The days of sides playing for a draw, going along at two runs an over, and then having a dig if they have a chance of victory are long gone. It”s not just England. Look at Australia v South Africa, Australia v New Zealand and India v West Indies. I don”t get all the doom and gloom. It”s people”s prerogative if they don”t go to watch live but that doesn”t mean they”re not interested. Cricket is peculiar in that so many people follow it on TV and radio. People work. They haven”t got the time to sit there for five days. They dip in and out. I never go to watch the Premier League live but that doesn”t mean I”m not interested. I love it. I”ve got a big telly and central heating and I watch it all!

Newman: Who were the stars of 2011

Booth: Cook is utterly remarkable and embodies the “daddy” hundred ethos that Graham Gooch has drummed into them. But for me there was no better-looking century than Ian Bell”s at Trent Bridge. It was a shame that the run-out controversy overshadowed how good that 159 was. The most heartening bowling for me came from Stuart Broad against India. David Saker likes his bowlers to pitch the ball within six to eight metres of the stumps and against Sri Lanka Broad was nearer to eight. Against India he moved it up to six and got it spot on.

Good job: England are No1 in Test and Twenty20 formats

Good job: England are No1 in Test and Twenty20 formats

Newman: I still maintain India did nothing wrong in running out Bell at Nottingham. In my opinion, Bell was lucky to be called back.

Booth: But what they did was for the good of the game. The moment Bell came back down those steps at Trent Bridge after tea and the whole ground stood to applaud what India had done sent a tingle down my spine. At that moment I felt quite proud of my sport.

Hussain: If you are looking for the man of the year you can”t look beyond Cook. If you think back to where he was against Pakistan at The Oval in 2010, a position where we might not have seen him in the Ashes if he had failed, to where he is now – then he has been simply phenomenal. He”s a run-machine. He scored 294 at Edgbaston and was still disappointed! We have asked for big runs from England”s batsmen for years and he more than anyone has provided them. I still think he”s got work to do as a captain, at times he”s been a bit regimented and formulaic, but we said the same about Michael Vaughan when he first took charge and he went on to be a brilliant captain. The one thing that we know about Cook is that he rises to a challenge and he will get better and better as a leader.

Lloyd: Yes, we have to highlight Cook but there have been so many stars. Dravid was outstanding for India and MS Dhoni was great when England went to India for the one-day series. KP looked back to his best and England have a bowling attack to die for. We”ve got fast bowlers coming out of our ears. Steven Finn has really announced himself now to add to the others.

Top man: England coach Andy Flower

Top man: England coach Andy Flower

Newman: Let”s talk about the one blot on England”s landscape. Why have they not been able to crack 50-over cricket It”s a mystery.

Hussain: A lot of England”s success has come from grinding down the opposition and staying in the game. Theynever let up and over five days have proved themselves the best around.But it is all about flair in 50 overs and perhaps they just have to remember to see ball, hit ball. Look at Virender Sehwag hitting a doublehundred against West Indies. He didn”t look as if he”d score 200 runs if he had batted all year in England, but put him on a flat pitch in India in a 50-over game and watch him go. Suresh Raina is the same.

Booth: England are fine at home in 50-over cricket but they are just too tentative away and become afraid of getting out. In Twenty20 they are forced to just go for it. The one-day international format is one that has never really captured the English supporters” imagination as much as Test cricket, and perhaps that”s part of the problem. Graeme Swann calling for 50-over cricket to be phased out typifies that attitude.

Hussain: I didn”t enjoy Swann saying that, actually. That”s not the way to think. One-day cricket seems here to stay and what England have to do is see it as a final challenge for them – not demean the format. England really missed Eoin Morgan in India. Anything good about their one-day cricket in recent times has usually revolved around him. People say it”s unhelpful that our counties do not play 50 overs but I don”t think that has anything to do with it. It”s just that we don”t play the type of 50-over cricket that is being played in the rest of the world. If we want the domestic game to help England then one-day cricket should be played on flat pitches, no green tinge, and in mid-summer when hopefully the sun is shining.

Lloyd: Fifty-over cricket is a conundrum. We just seem to have an inability to find the boundary and work the ball around. The one thing we do know is that Andy Flower will be addressing it.

Star man: England

Star man: England”s Alastair Cook

Newman: What is your biggest wish for 2012

Lloyd: I will continue to bang on about getting on with the game. There are too many interruptions to a day”s play. Don”t tell me the game has changed. It hasn”t. Stop all this wandering on and off. And I would like the players to show a bit more respect to umpires too. One final wish. I would like to see the decision-review system used by whichever team want to use it. If opponents don”t want it, then fine. There”s no reason why one team shouldn”t use the DRS in the same game when the other doesn”t.

Newman: I still don”t like the DRS. I just think it is taking the human element out of decision-making. Umpires are undermined. Their decision is no longer final. It wouldn”t be so bad if it was taken out of the hands of the players and left to a TV umpire to tell his colleague if he has made a howler. That system was the only good thing to come out of the Stanford debacle. There is nothing worse than that special moment when a wicket falls turning into the anti-climax of a review.

Lloyd: Well, I”m on the ICC umpires committee and I can tell you that you get a higher percentage of correct decisions with DRS than without it. That”s the bottom line and umpires accept that.

Newman: Umpiring standards are pretty high among the elite panel. Is it a big increase in correct decisions

Lloyd: It goes up from 95 per cent correct to 97 with the DRS, and I think that is a significant increase.

Booth: My wish for 2012 is for Test grounds to be filled up around the world. There are just too many where the atmosphere looks terrible and that doesn”t do any good for the reputation of Test cricket. Administrators have to find a way of getting people in.

Newman: What are we most looking forward to in 2012

Hussain: England”s Test series against South Africa. It”s a real match-up. A mouth-watering prospect. South Africa have some exciting players but I think England will win at home. South Africa will rely heavily on Dale Steyn. If he gets injured they could be in trouble.

Newman: I just wish the series didn”t clash with the London Olympics. I still find it extraordinary that England are playing the Aussies in a five-match one-day series at the one time of the summer when cricket may muscle its way into the wider public eye. Why are we playing them again in a non-Ashes year The Test at Headingley might well be the most significant cricket match of the summer and it is slap bang in the middle of the biggest sporting event that will ever be held in England. Madness.

Lloyd: There are some terrific challenges coming up. Next up are Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It will be difficult in Asian conditions. Yes, it”s a shame the England v South Africa series is not longer, but it is what it is. Everyone will be gunning for England now, so they will have to show they really are the best.

Booth: South Africa really should be a four-Test series but the three-match one will still be the highlight of the summer. Looking ahead, if England can avoid defeat in India next autumn they will consider it a triumph, and it will be a bonus if they successfully defend their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka. It”s too random a format for anyone to be favourites.

Hussain: I know England have started talking about a legacy, and becoming one of the best teams of all time, but I just want them to be the best that they can be. I don”t like comparing teams from different eras. Just carry on playing the way they are. They are good lads and everyone enjoys watching them. I hope they stay that way, stay grounded. I don”t want them to change because the game has a habit of jumping up and biting you if you think you have cracked it. I”m sure Andy Flower will keep their feet on the ground.

Newman: Flower is still absolutely key, isn”t he Am I the only one concerned at the way he”s been talking recently That he can”t see himself still doing this job long term

Lloyd: Andy will be thinking about his young family growing up. He may feel he”s done all he can. The modern way is to rest up for a while before taking on a new challenge. It”s important to know your shelf life too.

Booth: Yes, every coach has a shelf life, as we saw with Duncan Fletcher. That isn”t to say Flower has reached the end of his – far from it. But even if he leaves in 2014 England would have had five hopefully good years with him and the lessons he imparted ought to have been soaked up by whoever succeeds him. If the shelf life these days is getting shorter, blame the administrators.

Hussain: It is a concern if Andy is thinking in terms of the end because he has turned it all around with Andrew Strauss. I just hope it”s because he has had some rare time at home and he can probably see all this cricket ahead of him and wants to set an end goal for him and his family. In a year”s time he may well be rejuvenated. England have to try to hold on to him for as long as possible, and in the meantime make sure they have a succession plan in place.

Newman: And we should mention Lancashire”s Championship victory after all those years!

Lloyd: Yes, it was a thrilling end to the Championship season and, while I felt sympathy for Warwickshire, I was obviously thrilled Lancashire finally did it. It came at the end of a difficult year when the very future of the county was in the balance, but hopefully they are on the up now. Food for thought. How about the worth of outgrounds They served Lancashire well last summer.

Booth: My biggest worry about domestic cricket is that England players appear for their counties so irregularly that standards have fallen and it”s hard to see, with a cluttered fixture list, how that can change.

Newman: Talking of county cricket, if I may bring up an old chestnut -Somerset have just signed Vernon Philander for next April and May and it seems to me that they are providing him with perfect practice in English conditions for when South Africa visit later in the summer.

Booth: I”m fairly relaxed about it. He looks an English-type seamer anyway. England won”t lose to South Africa because Vernon Philander had a bit more time to acclimatise.

Lloyd: I haven”t got any strong feelings about it, but it does seem like “dead” money being paid out by Somerset to me. There will be a salary, house and a car but what return will they get

Lloyd: The Championship provided a quote that made me smile. It came from Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves when he was talking about relegation. “Our players say they couldn”t get results at Headingley,” said Graves. “Well, the opposition didn”t seem to have too many problems…”

Newman: On that note let”s end by hoping that the very busy cricketing year of 2012 is a very happy one!