Cook hoping for a return 'home'

Congleton Guardian: Alastair Cook's struggles with the bat continued but he had fun with the ball on day five at Trent Bridge Alastair Cook's struggles with the bat continued but he had fun with the ball on day five at Trent Bridge

England can only hope to avoid 'Lahore' at Lord's after their first-Test frustrations on a Nottingham pitch which captain Alastair Cook likened to Nagpur.

Home advantage is one of the fascinations of world cricket but was absent for England at Trent Bridge against India - as it was largely at Lord's and Headingley last month when they lost the first Investec series of the summer to Sri Lanka.

Cook's team encountered a surface devoid of pace, one which left groundsman Steve Birks admitting his error and duly hosted an entirely predictable stalemate as India batted out the final day on 391 for nine declared.

The skills of England's pace bowlers, and the tourists', were blunted as it quickly became clear there was little prospect of an edge carrying to slip or wicketkeeper even if they managed to find it.

Cook was left racking his brains for the last time he had faced such conditions, and eventually recalled a draw in December 2012 with which England closed out a famous series victory in India.

"This pitch was so unique," he said.

"The only one I can remember (like it) was that Nagpur pitch when we batted out for the draw in 2012."

The unexpected extremes of the east midlands made the prospect of a win for either team highly unlikely from the outset.

So it proved, but not before Cook had to ask his frontline pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad to get through 113 overs between them - a heavy workload already, with four more Tests to come in 37 days, starting at Lord's on Thursday.

"Both sides will say you can't read too much into it until we get back to some 'English' conditions, where it bounces above knee height," the home captain added.

"The lads were brilliant on that - never once did they get angry or frustrated about playing India in these conditions.

"You don't go to other places round the world and expect anything different to their tradition, I suppose."

It is highly unusual for groundstaff to apologise for the pitch prepared, as Birks did at stumps on day one after India closed on 259 for four.

"He has put his hand up and said he got it wrong," said Cook.

"We asked him a week-and-a-half ago (for anything), as long as it has some pace in it.

"You're not asking for excessive movement; you just want some pace in it - like a good Trent Bridge wicket."

Ultimately, to save his hard-worked pace attack further needless labour, Cook brought himself on to bowl - for only the second time in Test cricket - at the insistence of team-mate Joe Root, once it was clear a draw was inescapable.

Cook's search for runs at the top of the order becomes ever more urgent, after he added only five to his output.

But he was able to smile as he reflected on his light-hearted two-over spell which brought him a maiden wicket when India number 10 Ishant Sharma was caught-behind.

"It was a late, late call to do it," Cook said.

"I've never ever done it before, but Rooty was egging me on.

"It came out all right. I've got the match ball."

England have called up left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan in a 14-man squad for the second Test at Lord's.

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