Cape Town - The last two years have been somewhat of a roller-coaster for England captain Alastair Cook.
A 5-0 Ashes hammering in Australia at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 suggested that his days in charge were numbered, and the lean run of form that followed with the bat further reinforced that.
But both Cook and the England selectors held firm, and now as he leads his side into a four-match Test series in South Africa he does so with runs under the belt and the Ashes regained.
It hasn't come easily, and it certainly didn't come quickly, but the England captain has won over most of his critics and is widely considered the right man to be leading the Three Lions into battle.
has been through a lot … some ups and downs … and I think as captain that just
goes with the territory," Proteas captain Hashim Amla said of his opposite number in Durban this week.
"You can’t win every Test series, although you would
love to, and to endure some difficult times is part of building character.
is probably one of the best opening batters in the world, and opening in
England is not easy."
Amla has endured some tough times himself recently - the 3-0 hammering in India still fresh in the minds of cricket fans in South Africa.
That was his first series loss as Test captain, and he will no doubt be looking to bounce back against an England side he expects to be extremely competitive.
the English have come to SA they come with a good bowling unit, and any side
that comes to SA with a good bowling unit generally does well because of the
seamer friendly conditions we have here," he said.
always good to be back home. It was a long trip to India, but largely
successful with the T20 and One Day victories. The Tests were a bit
disappointing but to back home is good ... I think this will be a good series."
The first of the four Tests get underway on Boxing Day in Durban at Kingsmead.