Fans at the Village Green Cricket Ground in Christchurch, witnessed what might well have been the coming of age of Alastair Cook as a one-day batsman.
Ever since Cook burst on to the international scene in spectacular fashion, scoring a century on debut in Nagpur; question marks over his ability to score aggressively in the shorter formats have remained. In his first 16 innings he has scored 1 hundred, against India last year and a strike rate of 69.00 has left many people asking whether or not the man is up to the task.
When England arrived in New Zealand ahead of the T20 and ODI series, Alastair Cook was by no means a certainty to participate in the limited over matches. However, scores of 51 and 138* have given him a real possibility of making the team.
Cook has been working very hard in recent months to improve his scoring options. It helps that he is a quick learner, but he and England batting coach, Andy Flower, urge for patience, as at the young age of 23, Cook is very much a work in progress and greater things are yet to come.
Yesterday's innings shows just how far the young Essex player has come. His strike rate was a very impressive 98.57 and during his 140 ball innings, he managed to clear the boundary twice. These were his first sixes in England colours.
What was most impressive about this innings however, was not his final tally but the maturity he showed whislt constructing it. Opening the batting with Phil Mustard, a very aggressive hitter, it was Cook who took the attack to the bowling. He carried this England chase much in the way an older more experienced player would. He did not become unsettled by dismmissals to key players like Pietersen and Collingwood and forged good partnerships along the way.
The important thing to remember is that Cook is young, he has time, plenty of it. Form and fitness allowing, he has another 10+ years at the top. He will never be Adam Gilchrist nor will he be a Ricky Ponting. He is much more likely to be a Jaques Kallis kind of figure. Forget about the bowling side; and even the averages. Kallis occupies the crease and that, with time is what Cook will hopefully take from his test game into the ODI arena. Kallis has 9414 test runs (S/R 44.07) and 9541 ODI runs (S/R 71.35).
If Alastair Cook continues to improve as he has done in List A cricket and continues to score heavily in tests; there is no reason why he can't acheive similar feats or even surpass them. No one would complain about that.