England are hoping Alastair Cook can ride the wave of public adulation and reward supporters by completing a farewell hundred in his final Test innings at The Oval.
Cook could be excused for being distracted in the 161st Test of his record-breaking career by the due date for his and wife Alice’s third child on day four against India.
But by close of play on day three in this fifth Specsavers Test the stoic opener was showing no signs of anything but his famed determination as he dug out an unbeaten 46 in a second-innings 114-2, which gave England a lead of 154.
At the prospect of veteran Cook matching his age with a 33rd Test century, assistant coach Paul Farbrace’s eyes lit up.
“It’d be fantastic, wouldn’t it?” he said. “It’d be absolutely brilliant.
“I think he’s just enjoying milking all the applause he’s getting. I think it’s just driving him on to bat as long as he possibly can.”
Cook, who made a century on Test debut 12 years ago and has since become England’s all-time record run-scorer, has already banked five standing ovations this week and is assured of at least two more on his way into bat and back out, whatever he achieves in between.
Farbrace added: “He’s shown everything that he’s about so far in this game.
“He’s just got stuck in, and it’s not easy out there, but he looks as though he’s really enjoying the scrap.”
With Cook, even as an expectant father again, Farbrace knows there will be no loss of concentration.
“He’s been pretty calm,” he said. “I’d imagine the reception he got when he went out to bat probably moved him – it moved everybody else in our dressing-room, the fantastic support he’s had. He just seems to cope with everything that’s in front of him.
“As much as we’re going to miss his runs and his catches, I think the calming influence he has among the team, the staff, everybody ... is something we’ll all miss when he’s not in the dressing-room.”
Match report: Page 4.