You Really Hate Chef, Don’t You?

Mona Cook
Invaluable. To be protected at all times.

There are many that say that KP is the most divisive English cricketing figure, and it would be correct. I’ve never seen a player polarise views in such a way before, with the possible exception of Geoffrey Boycott when I was a lot younger. You will see vitriol and bile, hate and rage, incoherence and irrationality in abundance whenever he speaks, writes or comments on cricket. This is, of course, totally acceptable. Never should it be pointed out.

But that’s OK. We’ve been told he was a bad lad, so we have to accept that. The press all tap their noses and say “we know things” but then never tell us. So that’s OK. We need to trust them. KP deserved his fate. Trust them.

But that’s not enough. Just this week, in an Orwellian re-writing of history, Paul Newman (surprise surprise) said this:

The ECB came under attack for backing Cook when Pietersen fans were at their most vitriolic in the wake of his sacking, but it was certainly the right thing to do.

Beautiful. Because it was just KP fans who slagged off his captaincy against Sri Lanka and India at Lord’s. It was just KP fans saying a 5-0 Ashes defeat meant “nothing to see hear” when it came to talking about the leader. Here’s one Pietersen fan speaking:

“Any English player who wasn’t exasperated by some of Cook’s captaincy in Australia deserves to be demoted.” Ian Chappell.

There’s enough dog whistling in Newman’s output to disrupt Crufts, but the purpose of this piece is to have a discussion with myself – hey, no-one said I was sane – to put my views about our captain and his 10000 runs achievement on the record. So here goes:

Question: So you hate Alastair Cook, don’t you?

Actually, probably not. Hate is such a strong word. What I despise is what he now represents, whether it his intention or not. That is the simplistic representation of the good guy (him) against the bad guy (Pietersen) and that any debate or questioning of what went on, and what is going on means you are picking a side. In Dubya’s great nonsensical phrase, you are either for Cook (and therefore Team England, The ECB, Sky Sports, The Press) or you are against him (you mean you want England to fail?)

Question: It’s all KP, KP, KP….

I can’t lie and say yes, it probably is. Without the Pietersen issue Cook would have been the same old, same old for me. A good opening bat, a pretty ineffective captain, someone who does well against lower standards, struggles a bit against the really top teams, but an automatic selection engendering a shrug of the shoulders. Then, after the 2013/14 Ashes there needed to be a scapegoat, a victim to put this series on. The last loser of an Ashes series 5-0, against an all-time great team, never captained England again (and his personal conduct wasn’t magnificent either) but is still a huge folk hero. The last coach to lose 5-0 was harangued from office, depicted as a stubborn, odd man, while this one was allowed to leave “with dignity” and ensconced in a nice job he was lobbying for. This captain escaped from the debacle scot free, and instead the focus was on another person. Cook ought to go to bed every night thanking Pietersen, because without him, and what taking “his side” became, meant to sack Cook would make Pietersen look correct, and the ECB (and the media) foolish. And we can’t be having that.

Question: You were pretty vitriolic, weren’t you?

This makes me chuckle. Anyone who disagrees with the accepted line is branded as vitriolic, a social media zealot, a bilious inadequate. I have, on a number of occasions, said I fully understand how people can take Cook’s side and admire him. We all have different players we like in teams. I was aggressive in questioning what went on, I make no bones that I think Cook was a key component in the decision, and I think it shows contempt for those who followed England, and who like KP as a player, that he has hidden behind the ECB line of keeping totally quiet about why it happened. Remember when he said he wanted to speak about it, put it out there what happened, and then didn’t? Yes. I was, and still am, angry about that. He went down massively in my estimation.

Question: What purpose does it serve to keep going on about it?

Another line I love. It’s done now, so just let it be. No. You can’t make me like someone, you can’t make me admire someone who has, in my eyes, betrayed me as an England cricket supporter. I’m not denying he shouldn’t be in the team. I’m not denying he isn’t a test class batsman, or even that he doesn’t deserve to be in the top bracket of England players. Just because the press asserted that Cook did nothing wrong doesn’t mean I have to take their word for it. Remember when Downton was a great appointment? Remember when Moores was being advocated? Remember when we were told there were no vacancies in the middle order? Remember all these things? I do. Just because KP will never play for England again, and Cook is about to make it to 10000 doesn’t change things at all.

Question: You are not a true England supporter. That’s clear.

Under the definition of blind loyalty and backing whoever is playing, then I’m not meeting your test. I’m not apologising for that. I don’t actively want England to lose. They’ve actually made me not care. And given the resonance this blog has had, there are a fair few, I don’t claim it to be a massive number, who seem to agree. All of them were/are cricket tragics. Think about that for a minute before throwing around such dismissive, puerile, simple terms as “you aren’t a true supporter”. A true friend tells you when you are being a prick.

Ridiculous

Question: But you’ve been proved wrong. Cook has regained the Ashes and won in South Africa?

Don’t forget beating India 3-1. Don’t leave that out. He also lost at home to Sri Lanka after a Day 4 that should have had him sacked on the spot (in my eyes). His team lost 2-0 in UAE, but as we found out with Strauss/Flower, getting massacred there doesn’t matter because we never win there. We drew 1-1 with New Zealand, who if you look carefully, were pretty easily turned over home and away by Australia. The Ashes was a very good and unexpected win, but we won on any pitch that did something and were hammered on those that didn’t. Great. I’m at the back of the queue in having sympathy for Australia over that. Our win in South Africa was also a brilliant achievement, but I do think we had a little help from a weaker home team, with two of its three spearhead pacemen injured, and I don’t think it compares to 2004-5, for instance, in terms of achievement. There’s no reason to sack Cook now, and he’s going on about carrying on to the next Ashes at the end of 2017. But because he’s there now, doesn’t mean we were wrong then. Just because his mates in the media tell us we’ve been “shut up”, backed up by the Cooky Crew on social media, doesn’t mean we should.

Question: He’s still England’s best opener, you have to give him that.

Of course he is. I will point out to you that I thought his 162 at Lord’s last year against New Zealand was my innings of the year. Without it we were toast. Stokes couldn’t have done what he did. Cook’s monster 260+ in the UAE, in hindsight, prevented a whitewash. He’s the only one in our team that can play that innings. There’s a revolving door at the other end, so Cook is the stability we need there. I notice no-one in the media ever questions the reasons why a succession of openers seem to fail to gel with Cook (always their failings, which is fair, but I think questions might be asked of someone else), and the one that had a modicum of success (Compton) is now the subject of an almost unprecedented whispering campaign that casts him as some mad obsessive unable to cope with pressure. But of course Cook is worth his place, of course he should be opening for England, and at this stage, he is captain so there’s no need to change.

Question: But you wanted him dropped, you hypocrite. You showed what you know by even advocating that.

A test opener, being lauded as one of the greats of all time by the media now, went nearly two years without a test hundred, and nearly two and a half years without a first innings century. He went ten Ashes tests with a top score of 72. He’d flopped at home to Sri Lanka and in the first two tests against India. Put it this way – if Australia has a player doing that, in their pomp, they’d have dropped him. Why should we be any different? Because the press and the ECB like him? Cook stayed in situ because (a) there really wasn’t anyone else knocking on the door and (b) dropping him meant finding a new captain and TINA. Both meant the ECB would be put front and centre. Then he made 95 in what is now a legendary knock at the Rose Bowl, and when he made that ton in Barbados, well… the media went to town. If a team is being picked on performance, Cook’s place had to be in question. Especially after you’ve sacked a player on non-performance grounds. They said in the immediate aftermath of that decision that the one thing Cook needed to do was score runs. No he didn’t. Any 20 or 30 was revered as the green shoots of recovery were evident to the cognoscenti. Contrast Cook’s treatment with Ian Bell’s. Bell made a century in the Antigua test, and struggled during the Summer, whereupon, shortly thereafter, he was dropped! Nice. But Cook? No questions should be asked.

Newman hearts Cook

Question: 10000 runs would suggest that he’s an all-time great.

One could be churlish and say he has the lowest average of all those to reach that mark, that he doesn’t compare in terms of grace or aura of most of those above him, and that 10000 runs is a product of him being picked at a relatively young age and sticking there (which does him a ton of credit). It may also be reflected in the lack of real top class bowling around in the test arena at the moment, and that when the standard goes up, his average goes down. But I’m not churlish (although I mentioned them) because it is a great achievement. It resonates with much of the Shire mentality – a yeoman, striver, hard-working, gifted but not freakishly so, bloody-minded, always struggling with his game. He also has the media persona of being affable, some say he’s good-looking, is a farmer in his down-time, has a family, and, well, he’s English! We generally like those sorts who haven’t had it handed to them. But make no mistake, he’s where he is because he is talented beyond belief, got a break earlier in his career than anyone could have expected, and is a magnificent player of spin. He’s up there in terms of great England players. I may not like him, but I’m not daft.

Question: How will you react when he gets to 10000?

I will watch the reaction and see all those things that I saw last year. It’ll be used to demean us. It’ll be used to ram dissent back at us. It’ll be used as justification of all that went before. “Shut up, Pietersen fanboys, and just revel in our glory as Cook backers”. You think that won’t happen? Newman can’t help himself before the event. It should be treated as every other individual achievement like this should be. He gets it, the name goes up on the scoreboard, you get a standing ovation, and then there’s a game to win. When the achievement becomes bigger than the game itself, it becomes an issue. See Sachin’s pursuit of a hundredth international hundred, for instance. The approach towards 10000 has been greeted by some as a milestone beyond compare, when it really shouldn’t given the mark has breached quite frequently in recent years. I would have liked to think that Alastair would view the 10000 as another notch, but with bigger pictures to focus on. Instead, and I’m not sure how he feels about how it has been interpreted his line “you can’t really argue with someone who has 10000 runs” seems overly defensive. You are England’s record run scorer. Why do you feel so insecure? To answer the original question, not go overboard. After all, there’s a school of thought that he took his rival to get there first out of the picture (I don’t subscribe to that).
Cooky Macho Captain

Question – So Do You Hate Cook?

I hate his deification. I hate his press. I hate the spin. I hate the taking of sides. I hate the mealy mouthed responses. I hate how he is venerated by people crawling over themselves to have a go at KP as if this is a contest. We’ve gone into some detail over the last two years at the double standards applied to Cook and not to others. Cook is an England great. I’m not that filled with hatred that I can deny what is plain to my face. But he’s not my favourite, he became much less of a player in my eyes after the Ashes in 2013/14, and the airbrushing of subsequent flops and then the nonsense press that followed. There’s the appearance he can be a bit petulant, as he was after he was sacked as ODI captain. He’s the first to 10000 for England. It’s going to be a scene where if you don’t clap hard enough, don’t buy the hyperbole enough, don’t pay tribute enough, then how dare you.

I’ll just have to cope.

As I said, back a few months ago in Schism, I understand the other point of view. I really do. But to those who are quick to have a pop at me, and others on here, stop and think. Your own cricket board, allied with the media at the time, did this. They made it us v them, good v evil, Cook v KP. That utter mismanagement and supine reporting has got us to here. Cricket fans at each other. Cricket fans demanding surrender to their view. I find it very sad. But I cannot help how I feel. To lie, would be to do you all a disservice. So when they get up to cheer 10000, I’ll be silent. He’s done well, but the honour has been hijacked, turned into a vindication, a totem of being correct. I won’t be joining the chorus. You would not expect anything else. The wounds are deep.

Now. Let the test summer begin.

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65 thoughts on “You Really Hate Chef, Don’t You?

  1. The Vickster May 17, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    Word. Word. Word. You’ve just written down my complete thoughts. Thank you.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      Thank you for the nice words. But Fox News promotes itself as “Fair and Balanced”. Not sure I like that….

      Like

  2. metatone May 17, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    I really resent the hoopla about Cook’s 10000 runs, because his average and the bowling he has faced, along with the absurd inability of the selectors to drop him when he was very poor all mean he’s nowhere near the class of the others on the list.

    But plenty of people seem to feel compelled to pretend he is.

    It makes me pretty angry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark May 17, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Cook has got the easiest job in English sport. He gets all the praise if we win (Cooks redemption) and absolutely no blame if we lose. He can go 2 years without getting a good score and if it all goes tits up strange voices will whisper into the media’s ears that Bell is no good, and Compton is strange and odd.

    If Cook had been sacked after the 2014 debacle and my dog had been made captain we would have beaten Sri Lanka and beaten India at Lords. Because even my dog knows how to bowl on a green top on the first morning of a test match, we would also have won in the WI, and had chance to sort out the ODI team for the World Cup without golden boy.

    As for the so called 10,000 runs we were told this was not important when anther played said he had his eyes on that target. So I take with a pinch of salt the idocy of Newman telling me it is the most important even in English cricket history. Time and time again they claim one thing, and then change the rules when it’s golden boy in the frame.

    I’m now going to watch the Sky show on the 90s. I have a glass at the ready and will play a drinking game. How many times can they fit the name Cook into a show about the 1990s? And how many times will we be told he is the reason for the change? Also how much credit will be given to the opposition for Engllands poor test form in that decade?

    Like

      • Mark May 17, 2016 / 9:36 pm

        It’s all right mate, she’s gone off to play IPL.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicholas May 17, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    Great article – whilst I have a little more sympathy for Cook than many here I don’t disagree with your well-argued and constant position. I am dreading the nauseating coverage when the 10,000 comes along – I’d far rather we just focused on a good test match.

    Something that I’ve been meaning to write on here for a while, and your reference to Flintoff remaining a folk-hero despite his part in the 2006/7 whitewash gives me as good an opportunity as any…

    I recall reading in the Wisden Cricketer back in c. 2009 in a tour diary by Julian Guyer (of AFP) his observation that privately the press corps liked and were impressed by Pietersen, whereas they found Flintoff a bit of a boorish lout. Yet the press that each got portrayed it as if it was the other way around. It was just a throwaway remark, without any analysis as to why it might be thus, but you have to wonder given what went on four years later, don’t you. A lot of the press that Pieterson got (/still gets today) certainly seemed personal then.

    And, yes, Flintoff did become an irritant for some time, but he retained his status as being an England hero, despite the fact that he would annoy the press corps from time to time.

    It’s just interesting that the press taking on a narrative (the 2014 narrative of Cook good/Pietersen bad being fed to them by the ECB) is nothing new – and whether the narrative of Pietersen mercenary/Flintoff legend was fed by ECB or by popular perception or pressure from editors/proprietors/public perception. It sounded like that 2009-era situation was a bit of a vicious circle – the people like Freddie so we have to write nice things about him, even though we think he’s a bit of a tit; the people think KP is a bit intense, so we’ll write him down – that kind of thing…

    Sorry, that’s not a particularly well-formed couple of paragraphs, but hopefully you can grasp what I’m trying to say…

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      I always thought that Flintoff/KP paradox was a Gideon Haigh comment. Pretty sure it was in the Wisden Cricketer magazine around the time of the 2009 Ashes test at Lord’s, where KP was batting on one leg and Flintoff was doing that look at me celebration.

      Point is well made. I got it. I’ll see if I can dig out the piece.

      Like

      • Nicholas May 17, 2016 / 9:36 pm

        Cheers, Dmitri – thought it was from that kind of time. Yes – that’s right – Haigh did the Ashes 2009 diary – I remember now – I was getting confused with Guyer doing the 2005 one. He also had a fantastic(ly awful) Giles Clarke anecdote in there that concluded “it is sometimes hard not to like the staggeringly rude”.

        I can’t dig the piece out myself – although I have all my old TWCs (rather happily, my collection of TWC magazines begins with the very first issue in 2003 and is complete), they are at my parents’ house at the moment, so not to hand.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 9:42 pm

          I can’t find the 2009 issues. Stuffed at the back of the cupboard.

          Like

    • Mark May 17, 2016 / 9:46 pm

      What was interesting about the Flintoff captaincy of that tour was that it was a toss up between him and Strauss as who should be captain. It’s funny looking back how many geniuses in the media went for Freddie. I remember one of the Sky bods even arguing that FLintoff should get the job because he would get the best out of Harmison, because he was his mate.

      In light of the hero worship today of Strauss it’s quite funny how the media went for Flintoff.

      Like

      • Zephirine May 18, 2016 / 12:26 pm

        Flintoff is clever at media management, cleverer than he’s given credit for. he gave them what they needed. Like those wicket celebration poses he took to doing at the end of his career, they might have looked stupid but he knew the papers wouldn’t resist printing them. There was a real give-away not long ago, when he disclosed that Harmison was actually the first one to go and console Brett Lee but ‘Harmy was never very good at knowing where the cameras were.’

        Like

      • Clivejw May 20, 2016 / 12:08 pm

        Zeph, I think you might be guilty of taking seriously what sounds to me like one of Freddie’s after-dinner-circuit jokes. He’s not above sending himself up, which is one of the things I like about him. Similarly, some of the media have actually printed as a statement of fact Freddie’s joke that when he appeared to be consoling Lee, he was actually whispering “It’s 1-1, you Aussie bastard” in his shell-like.

        Like

  5. Mark May 17, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    Well we are off to a cracking start. Gower has just called Goochs regime ….”communist”

    I’m not sure all these players look too happy. The angle seems to be they were all shit, unlike today. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

    Like

  6. jennyah46 May 17, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    Imo this Cook versus KP thing is a load of nonsense. One has little to do with the other. So he looked at his shoes. That’s all we know. Obviously didn’t want to be there. He Is a pawn in a game.

    Like

  7. Benny May 17, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    I usually like to be “outside” everybody so I’m not in anyone’s fan club. I can’t help wondering whether, if England had had an experienced and skilled man manager at the time, he could have sat Cook and KP down and got them to make it work. The two of them together in the team would have given us a far better past 2 years.

    For me, Flower is the culprit not the other two

    Just to quibble, didn’t Mark Taylor go for a very long time without scoring runs?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 10:25 pm

      Benny. Fair comment. Mark Taylor went nearly two years between tons at the end of his career – November 1995 to June 1997. 18 months. It was actually a very poor run because there weren’t many 50s. This was very much towards the end. I did have that in mind, but that didn’t coincide with 5-0 Ashes drubbings!

      Like

  8. Mark May 17, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    Well quite a good show. Quite funny as well. Goughie should go on Blackpool pier doing Peter Kay impressions. They played down the oppositions strengths. Didn’t ignore, it but played it down. Some of the selections were crazy in those days.

    No mention of Cook so that was nice. Interesting seeing The Suns cricket correspondent on the tape they had of Illingworth criticising Atherton (the captain) bet they wouldn’t run that story today.

    Overall good memories of a time when test match cricket seemed to matter, and the quality of teams was good. Shame Englands managememt were so hopeless.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 10:52 pm

      I like how beating India in 1990 and 1996 was not classed as a “major series win”. Only five test series mattered then.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. SimonH May 17, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    Paul Newman AND Chris Stocks:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-3595377/Alastair-Cook-hailed-England-batting-heroes-looks-make-history-reaching-10-000-runs-against-Sri-Lanka.html

    We are blessed!

    (I wrote recently that Cook would be compared to Tendulkar – I counted such four references in this. There are also mentions of Sangakkara, Lara, Dravid and Gavaskar. I don’t think there are any to other openers – past or present – with similar averages. Who’s astonished?).

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 17, 2016 / 10:51 pm

      You didn’t read Chris in The Cricket Paper then. Lucky you.

      Like

    • Mark May 17, 2016 / 10:59 pm

      It’s only a matter of time before they bring out the B word.

      Bradman.

      I honestly think Newman has gone insane.

      Like

    • nonoxcol May 18, 2016 / 5:15 am

      Sorry. I refuse to go further than Nasser Hussain’s first paragraph. “…BETTER at this stage of his career than even Sachin Tendulkar.”

      Not younger. Better. Honestly, just fuck off.

      Like

      • nonoxcol May 18, 2016 / 5:21 am

        Ok, I went further. Cook is the toughest ever England cricketer, so screw anyone who served in wartime. He has no ego, which is complete garbage. And his hundred in Barbados was wonderful. Course it was (England lost, and it was by a distance his least significant ton of 2015).

        Keep doing what you are doing, Dmitri, because the pros are embarrassing themselves.

        Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2016 / 6:36 am

        When seeing that the article was based on the views of “England batting heroes”, who else started betting who the first three would be?

        My money wasn’t on Boycott, Atherton and Pietersen….

        Like

      • nonoxcol May 18, 2016 / 7:12 am

        SimonH

        Ha! It’s a good point, well made.

        What the hell actually happened to Nasser Hussain though? Even the Venerable Selvey might have baulked at some of that world-class fawning.

        And as they almost say in Private Eye, anyone else mentions lambing I swear I’ll do time.

        Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2016 / 7:55 am

        NOC, since you’ve given up on Sky you’ve missed it – but he’s like it all the time now (or the few bits of commentary have been that I’ve listen to before hitting the mute button again). These recent articles aren’t untypical. Atherton is still more measured.

        By the way, I thought your embargo on the Guardian BTL would be tested when I saw the topic of this week’s ‘The Pits’! I notice you’ve caved!

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2016 / 7:59 am

          Re the mentally strong meme. Watching the 90s review last night showed how mentally strong Athers was. Joburg and Trent Bridge as well as a coach / manager working against you. That seemed pretty tough to me.

          Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol May 18, 2016 / 8:11 am

        SimonH

        Yes, I caved (still not touching MS threads though). I simply could not accept an article that didn’t even acknowledge the significance of either the bidding process or the ever more obvious north/south divide, and I knew I’d already done my research when TFT ran a piece in 2014. Say what you like about Bull, he isn’t usually *that* lazy.

        Like

      • Mark May 18, 2016 / 8:16 am

        I was thinking the same thing last night watching the sky show on the 1990s Dmitri.

        Cook wouldn’t last 5 minutes in that era. Never mind the quality of attack he would have to face, he wouldn’t have been given the free run for 2 years without a score. Players were dropped after 2/3 test matches. Cook would have got to play a lot of cricket back at Essex. And as for captaining in that period, forget it.

        Nasser runs down himself, and people like Mike Atherton when he writes the drivel about Cook and mental toughness.

        Like

    • BoredInAustria May 18, 2016 / 6:28 am

      “Nasser Hussain thinks Cook would be a world icon if he was not English”
      Wrong kind of family?

      Like

  10. SimonH May 18, 2016 / 7:43 am

    Okay, this is going to be accused of churlishness, but I have some points about volumes (of runs or wickets) as a measure and about longevity that are really bugging me and that I need to vent.

    Volumes are a measure as much of international scheduling as anything else. The weight that is attached to them is in denial of this. Cook has had 226 innings in a little over a decade since his debut. The next highest figure (Ian Bell) is 186. Five of the top ten are English.

    Two examples of what career stats would have looked like if they’d played as much as Cook and averaged about 22 Test innings a year of their career:
    1) Len Hutton – Hutton played for 18 years and averaged over 56. He’d have scored over 20,000 Test runs with Cook’s opportunities.
    2) Younis Khan – Younis has been playing for 16 years and averages 53.9. He’d have scored 19,000 Test runs with Cook’s opportunities. (In case Pakistan are seen as a special exception, let’s also mention Hashim Amla – Amla has been a regular since 2006 and given 22 Test innings a year he’d currently be on over 11,000 Test runs).

    Ah, but would they have sustained those records if they’d have played that many more games? We’ll never know for certain, of course. But I can see no reasonable grounds simply to assume that they wouldn’t. Younis and Amla seem highly fit and motivated (and they have to put up with board politics that make the ECB look like beginners). Many batsmen who field in the slips are able to enjoy long careers (unless they have a hereditary medical condition like Atherton or Clarke). It isn’t as if other cricketers were sitting on their backsides doing nothing while Cook has all this additional Test innings. Most modern cricketers play much more white ball cricket than Cook has done. In addition to ODIs and T20Is, cricketers who aren’t English or Australian have to play in franchises to earn anything like what players from those two countries do. In the past, players played much more f/c cricket (Hutton played over 500 matches which is over twice Cook’s current figure).

    I’m finding some of the oohing-and-ahing about Cook’s longevity a bit overdone. Cook keeps himself fit which involves some hard work. Agreed. Has anyone argued otherwise? Shouldn’t this be pretty much expected of a £1m a year sportsman? With modern medical and dietary support? There have been a handful of players in recent times who haven’t looked after themselves physically, but not many. It seems another example of Cook being praised for something taken for granted in others. The only batsmen I can think of who earned much comment for their longevity were those like Sangakkara and Kallis who also performed another discipline (plus Tendulkar because he started exceptionally young). When it was someone like Ponting or Hayden, all one would hear is that they were ‘natural athletes’ – if anyone noticed it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2016 / 8:11 am

      All fair points which there’s little Cook can do about. A real point is that in the 1990s India barely played test cricket and if they had played near the rate of today heaven knows how many Sachin would have now. He played 22 years for 200 tests (I think). On train so don’t know how many Cook has played but it must be in the 120s and he’s been at this just about 10 years. Worth remembering when doing the Sachin comparisons.

      Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2016 / 8:39 am

        “in the 1990s India barely played test cricket”.

        Good stat – Tendulkar never played a home 5-Test series.

        Like

      • SimonH May 18, 2016 / 9:00 am

        Stat No.2 re the “Cook has scored more runs than Sachin at the same age” meme –

        Cook has scored about 13k international runs, Tendulkar, at the same age, had scored 22.5k.

        (I don’t normally like the combined international runs stat – but our Director Comma was the one who told us that we should take the different formats equally seriously!).

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2016 / 9:27 am

          Sachin played 3 tests in 1995. 3.

          After 10 years and 1 month Sachin had played 73 tests and scored 5841 runs. Alastair Cook is about to play his 127th. Sachin played his 127th test over 16 years after his debut. He was 300 runs in front of Cook at an average of 56.71.

          You wonder why we get the hump with his deification. Right there.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. PaulE May 18, 2016 / 8:06 am

    ‘This makes me chuckle. Anyone who disagrees with the accepted line is branded as vitriolic, a social media zealot, a bilious inadequate.’

    Well indeed. Sports writing mirrors the wider culture in which toxic discourse is mainstream and anyone who rejects the culture wars is a bizarre leper. The lack of self-awareness and reflexivity is breathtaking. That so many people buy into the tabloidization of our culture is alarming.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Benny May 18, 2016 / 12:02 pm

      Absolutely spot on Paul. Best example is “political correctness”. Imported from america, never on the statute book but treated as law by many.

      Like

  12. PaulE May 18, 2016 / 8:12 am

    ‘Question: What purpose does it serve to keep going on about it?’

    Again, the classic strategy of the victors. The rogue’s defence. Let us imagine, for a moment, that the families who fought so bravely to overturn this defence of the Hillsborough tragedy had ‘moved on’ as they were repeatedly advised to do. Of course the cases aren’t remotely comparable, but my point stands: if someone tells you to move on, they’ve invariably got something to hide. See Orgeave. Moving on blocks the work of forgetting and serves to doubly humiliate those who feel wronged.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2016 / 8:14 am

      Fancy posing some more questions, Paul?

      PS good to see you back. Been missing my hits from Finland.

      Like

    • Adrian S May 18, 2016 / 9:23 am

      A mind that can even conceive the thought of a multi millionaire losing one of his revenue streams and the death of 96 people being worthy of mention in the same comment is truly disturbed, this comment is absolutely disgusting, I hope no-one remotely connected to Hillsborough sees it.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus May 18, 2016 / 9:36 am

        I was at Hillsborough. I didn’t lose someone but we had a terrible wait afterwards. One of my passengers was in that end. I don’t compare myself to those who did lose someone. It’s also why I talk about it very rarely. You may have read my post on it.

        I get Paul’s point. I might not have worded it that way but I don’t write for other people. He’s not insulting their memory at all. He’s giving an example of persistence when told to go away, mive on. I wonder how someone could feel the way you do.

        Stop being vicariously offended.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark May 18, 2016 / 10:59 am

        Concern trolling of the worst kind.

        The concept of telling the victims or the losers of an event to “move on” or “get over it” by either the winners or the Establishment is very common. Indeed, some sections of the same scummy media who dish it out to those who fought the ECB told the Hillsborough families of the victims to get over it for 20 years. Lovely people. (Not)

        Why don’t you construct an argument that makes the case that Cook is the greatest English cricketer of all time, that he is mentally tougher than every other cricketer in England, and that he is one of the all time greats of world cricket?

        I suggest the reason is you can’t. Yet that is the preposterous argument being put forward by the English cricket media.

        Like

      • Benny May 18, 2016 / 11:57 am

        Not convinced there is such a thing as “mental strength”. It’s another example of media people with reduced vocabulary. Try determination, resilience, courage, commitment ……

        Top of the list I’d put James Taylor, Tresco, Trott, Finn as well as players who have come back from having broken bodies repaired such as Botham and Warne.

        Also, it’s clear that the media have blanked out any cricket older than 20/30 years ago. Who would your money be on for dominance – WG or Cook?

        Like

      • alan May 18, 2016 / 12:04 pm

        PaulE made it perfectly clear that he was not comparing the level of suffering or injustice involved but showing how exhortations to ‘move on’ can be used to prevent the exposure of injustices be they major or minor, serious or trivial.
        Did you make Boris Johnson aware of your outrage when he compared the EU with Hitler,a perpetrator of genocide?
        I suspect that like a few other scrutinisers of this site, you only read it in the hope of an opportunity to vent your somewhat hysterical moral indignation

        Like

  13. Mark May 18, 2016 / 8:37 am

    The question I can’t work out is why does this sycophancy continue?

    They have everything they wanted, they are smug and secure. Cook can now captain as long as he chooses. He can break as many batting records as he likes because he can stay in the team as long as he likes. So why keep up this nonsense?

    1 Maybe there are some media people who have never got over the idea their judgements were questioned. Newspaper Journalists usually have paper thin skins when it comes to criticism of themselves. I think some of them just like to revel in rubbing our faces in it. Which is idiotic because it just proves we were more relevant than they like to claim.

    2 The ECB are still incredibly insecure, and maximum bullshit is still required.

    3 The jounalists believe this stuff. In which case they need to be retired off because they are talking nonsense.

    4 They are Cooks mate. In which case they are not acting as journalists, but as chums. So they are taking money for a job they are not doing.

    Probably all of the above. But it is not good for Cook, or for English cricket. It just makes England look like a laughing stock. I mean really, Cook in the same class as Sachin or Lara? The media are making themselves look like morons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine May 18, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      Why does it continue? Because, confronted with the fact that interest in cricket is dying in this country, the England cricket establishment decided that Cook was to be the face and image of the brand. They think he’s the sort of person the public should love – respectable, well-behaved, quite good-looking but not too sexy, diffident, grounded yet a high achiever. The ideal son-in-law.

      They’re completely wrong, as a cynical media manipulator like Flintoff could easily explain to them. It’s the equivalent of hanging all the publicity for the Lord of the Rings films onto Orlando Bloom.

      But Cook is England cricket. And so any criticism equals disloyalty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 18, 2016 / 1:08 pm

        They really don’t get this, do they?

        It’s evident in Hussain’s comments in the Newman/Stocks article I linked earlier where he says about what an icon Cook would be in India. Do they think dogged, grafting Test batsmen are the populist heroes in India? You can’t move there without being bombarded with images of Murali Vijay? Hussain ends up sounding like he’s peevishly blaming the English public for not sharing his infatuation.

        Popular heroes in cricket are made out of hard-living all-rounders, dashing batsmen, bowlers who ping it down at 90+ mph. They just are.

        Or perhaps they do get it? Perhaps Cook, like Waitrose, embodies the kind of fan that the ECB wants. Everyone else can like it – or lump it. The game’s probably better off without these vulgarians anyway….

        Like

      • Zephirine May 18, 2016 / 2:25 pm

        “peevishly blaming the English public for not sharing his infatuation”
        There’s a lot of that about.

        But yes, he’s Waitrose Man.

        Like

  14. Alec May 18, 2016 / 12:12 pm

    Cook getting to 10,000 runs will probably give me some good cheer, even if is maybe for no reason other than that I will be stuck at work and cricket is always better than work.

    Cook’s test cricket form slump lasted a little shy of 2 years and 4 series in which he failed to score a century. Between Headingley 2013, he failed to reach 3 figures in back-to-back Ashes, the series against Sri Lanka and the one against India (in which he still averaged 49 thanks to a not out, a late run of something approaching fortune if not form and the visitors’ all-round subsidence after their Lord’s mugging of the England team). It hasn’t helped him that his form is still scratchy, although his average since the end of the 2013/14 Ashes is 46.75, as against a career average of 46.56. That may suggest actually his form is right where it should be; excellent for an opening bat if not all time great.

    By comparison, KP’s lack of centuries at the turn of this decade lasted around the same length of time and for 5 series: The 2009 Wisden Trophy (pt. 2), 2009/10 series against South Africa, back-to-back series against Bangladesh and the series against Pakistan. He also failed to reach 3 figures in the ’09 Ashes but only payed 2 tests due to injury and thus I have omitted it from the calculations. Of course, when he rediscovered his form it all came roaring back and never completely left him until the horror-story Ashes. Excepting the 2012 tour of the UAE, whenever England really needed him he usually came up with the goods at least once per series.

    Good batsmen have runs of bad form. It sucks but it happens. Excellent batsmen are able to find away back into good form instead of fading away. KP did it because he was an excellent test batsman, Cook did it because he still is an excellent test batsman.

    On the mesid front, Cook makes a terrible villain and worse anti-hero. But by trying to make him an out and out hero the ECB just made him a lightning rod for dissatisfaction; all too much of which extends beyond selection of just a single player and reveals greater underlying problems that those running the sport have with its core constituency of fans.

    KP is one of England’s best batsmen ever, a hero of 2005 and was able to take the high ground post-sacking. Cook is one of England’s best batsmen ever, a hero of 2010/11 and became body armour to a craven administration. Each man has his faults, each man is rightly criticised and each will frustrate as often as he enchants. Cook failed to win the PR war with the entire media establishment at his back because the rules of engagement had changed around him and because he failed to do what he should have done to quell the doubters: score runs and win matches. It may not have been for lack of trying

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alec May 18, 2016 / 12:37 pm

      Further to my earlier comment, KP makes an awful lot of sense about test cricket here:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2016/05/18/pay-joe-root-what-he-deserves-so-test-game-has-a-chance-of-survi/

      This bit in particular:

      “I believe Test cricketers should be the best paid players in the world. Guys such as Root should be earning the big money, not Twenty20 cricketers. If we play fewer Tests and pay the Test cricketers the money they deserve then the future of the game will be more assured.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennyah46 May 18, 2016 / 8:26 pm

        My reply of excellent that went to Rufus was supposed to go to you!

        Like

    • Zephirine May 18, 2016 / 12:52 pm

      Really good summary, Alec.

      Like

      • Zephirine May 18, 2016 / 12:53 pm

        (i.e. your longer post, though KP’s summary is pretty good too)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alec May 18, 2016 / 1:59 pm

        Thanks.

        Like

    • RufusSG May 18, 2016 / 3:04 pm

      I haven’t commented for a while (been revising for my university exams, fun) but I felt obliged to say that this is an excellent and very fair summary of both men. (For what it’s worth, Dmitri’s article itself is very even-handed and great too. Compliments all around!)

      Like

    • jennyah46 May 18, 2016 / 3:39 pm

      Excellent. I agree with you entirely.

      Like

  15. Mark May 18, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    Simon pointed out a few days ago that ENGLAND have been very lucky lately with opposition bowlers either being injured or out of form coming into matches with them. Looks like the weather will be ideal for the home side in the next few days. Overcast, cloudy, the odd bit of rain. Sunday looks like being the worst day at the moment. Could be a total washout all day.

    Judging by the warm up games, and if Leeds when overcast creates movement for the English bowlers we could be on for a 3 day test match. Done and dusted by Sunday?

    Like

  16. Topshelf May 18, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    I think we can all agree that both KP and Cook are among England’s best ever batsmen. KP was always more fun to watch, but personally I find much to admire in Cook’s dogged triumph of substance over style – batting-wise at least. He’s a mediocre fielding captain at best, and has only recently reached even that level.

    As a man, there is much less to admire, but as an example to young cricketers of the value of hard work and sheer bloody-minded determination not to be beaten by his own technical flaws, he is an object lesson in what can be achieved.

    It is a shame that his legacy, be it 10, 12 or even 20,000 runs, will always be entwined with his shabby behaviour re KP and a chronic lack of self-awareness when discussing other players’ prospects. Although, the fact that Compton has kept his place (so far) given his well-known antipathy to Cook does suggest that the captain doesn’t get everything he wants. I couldn’t possibly guess where the drip-drip of anti-Compton snippets is coming from of course.

    As to Nasser Hussain, not only is he ex-Essex, but he was never going to call for the axe to fall on Cook anyway. Let’s not forget that in 2000-2001 Nasser as captain played 21 tests, with one century, at the princely average of 24.48. As I remember it he fell victim to some shocking decisions and got some horrible grubbing deliveries, but I don’t remember there being a big movement to drop him then. Of course, he was still a decent captain who was changing the whole team mentality at the time.

    But it is a shame that every time I hear him on commentary now – and in his early years I really rated him – all I can hear is that “Redemption for Cook” nonsense.

    Like

  17. man in a barrel May 18, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    So Douglas Jardine spent 6 months being cursed by the whole of Australia. Or Mike Brearley had much the same experience in 1979-80, Cook had it worse….!!!!!! Eat my shorts.

    Like

    • SimonH May 19, 2016 / 8:59 am

      Yes, but what’s all that compared to some idiots on Twitter or being called a “weasel” by Piers Morgan?

      Like

  18. man in a barrel May 18, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    JWHT Douglas of Essex and England, won a gold medal for boxing at the 1908 Olympics. He won the Ashes in 1911-12, but was white-washed in 1920-21. His iron rod probably felled more men than Cook’s wishy-washy “the selectors dropped me” whinging.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus May 19, 2016 / 8:18 am

      Don Goochione will make you an offer you can’t refuse if you carry on like that.

      Like

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