England captain Alastair Cook is second only to legendry Australian Sir Don Bradman, according to New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum.

Cook with 7,243 runs is 38<sup>th on the all-time list for test runs but is the leading scorer of centuries for England, ahead of teammate Kevin Pietersen, with 24. Bradman, regarded as cricket's greatest ever batsman, finished his career with an average of 99.

The Essex left-hander provided another reminder as to his ability with a century in the second innings in Dunedin as England fought back to claim a draw in the first test against the Black Caps last week.

Ahead of the second test in Wellington, McCullum has paid the ultimate tribute to Cook.

Alastair Cook
Cook scored his 24th test hundred in Dunedin.

"I think we bowled reasonably well to Cooky the other day," McCullum admitted. "He's obviously a genius batsman - his record is testament to that.

"Where he is at in his career at the moment, he's as good as anyone who has played the game - probably barring Bradman.

"He's enjoying the captaincy as well and leading from the front. We just have to bowl areas where we think we can dismiss him. If he's good enough to overcome that, then so be bit - and you move on to Plan B."

Cook's form since being appointed captain in August 2012 has only worked to increase his stock, with 1030 runs coming at 85.83 making him among the most feared batsman in world cricket with the 28 year old currently sixth in the ICC test batsman rankings.

"It's very nice of him to say that," Cook said. "You never quite feel on top of the game. "I'm not quite sure where he's got that from.

"What was pleasing for me was, after a few starts in the one-dayers here and in India, but [with] no match-winning score, I managed to get that bigger one in the first Test. I seemed to hit the ball okay."

McCullum himself is enjoying a rich vein of form, having struck 74 In the Dunedin test which following a T20 and ODI series where he remained a thorn in England's side.

His 74 in the second T20 international and 69 not out in the 1<sup>st ODI, both in Hamilton inspired New Zealand to impressive victories and Cook says his counterpart's form with the bat should not go unnoticed either.

"You could talk about his genius batting," Cook added. "The way he hits the ball sometimes."