This Is Not A Love Story

cook-goes

And it came to pass. It was going to happen sometime, and you’d think I’d be ready for it. But strangely I had not prepared. Some part of me thought that this would not happen until next year. There was no piece on the stocks. There was, surprisingly, no leak. Just shows.

It had been another one of those Monday mornings. The trains at my local station were at a standstill, alternative routes had to be found, and as I sat on the train at Mottingham station, I put on the headphones, started up the I-pod, and got out the smartphone. I would carry out my usual morning Twitter trawl, trying desperately to avoid the hyperbole relating to the comeback by the Forces of Evil in the Superbowl last night.

And there it was:

Now I know many of you will think this would have been met with a punch of the air, a scream of delight on the 9:35, a lap of honour around the carriage. Instead I sat there not quite, for a few seconds at least, able to take it in. Cook has resigned as England captain on a Monday morning at 9:30. Just about my worst time of the week. The blighter. Panic. What do I do? Who can write up a piece? Most importantly from my perspective, how will an article that will inevitably go against the grain be set out? How should it be pitched?

While I had to think how we dealt with this on the blog, I also wondered why no-one had yet flagged it up (it had been out for a good ten minutes – SimonH was slacking). Was it true? Then all the press boys ploughed in and we knew it was so.

So up went the post, the holding one, and here we are now. A few hours on, and the reaction has been, well, quite muted I think (although that may be because I’ve been cocooned in a work environment all day). It had an air of inevitability about it. Cook was a dead man walking, his captaincy so lethargic and lacking in inspiration in the latter part of the India tour in particular, that any other outcome would have been an insult to cricket supporters in this country. Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of his leadership and captaincy qualities, he had trailed this intention, benign or unintentional it might have been in his interview with #39 (he’s a skilled media operator, he knew what he was doing) as a possibility, and then all the pieces in the middle of the tour seemed to indicate that the press had been tipped off. The sheer devastation of that final India innings in Chennai had to be the final exclamation point on a tumultuous, yet quintessentially English regime. A novice Indian batsman getting a triple hundred. India totting up 700+. An innings defeat due to an abject collapse on the last day. It had that end of the reign about it. Cook was told to take his time, but the media, still, I presume all being briefed accordingly were almost unanimous. Hell, The Cricketer even ran a front cover that acted as if he’d gone already.

Yet there were still stories saying that this was Cook’s decision to make, and even the possibility that taking another crack at the Aussies for a Redemption beyond Redemption – a kind of Ashes Revenge, this time it’s personal – was something Cook should have if he wanted to. Little voices saying he should stay. They almost had me fooled.

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It should never have been so. We may find out in years to come whether Cook jumped, was pushed, or whatever, but if for one minute Cook said “you know, I think I’ll have another year, thanks” any decent leadership would have said “not bloody likely”. He should have been given the opportunity to resign, and if not told to. If he’d failed to do so, he should have been dismissed. We seemed to care more about the personal feelings of one player than the overall benefit to the team. The wellbeing of a dead duck captain, rather than an all points forward Team England. Cook probably didn’t feel like that, but the press gave the impression they did. It took a heart of stone not to laugh.

Now look. Cook is now being lauded for presiding over a deterioration in performance and saying it might be down to him a little – a little sprinkling of self-regard, a touch of piety and honesty. We’ve changed a fair old bit as a cricket media if that’s a plausible, rational point to make by an English sporting captain and to get praise for it. There will be the nice captaincy reviews, smatterings of integrity and class, and lots of praise for his resilience and fortitude. All that is for today. It’s nice to be nice, isn’t it? But this blog has always been that outlier. The sort of negative voice, that never moved on that could be “easily ignored”. Except it couldn’t. We owe Cook, and the media that supported him, and the ECB that backed him, a lot. Without it, what would we have done? Talk about T20 reorganisations being implemented with all the skill and dexterity of the original Millennium Dome?

So what of his reign over the past four years? I wouldn’t want to be the curmudgeon to say it was all crap, because it wasn’t. But I wouldn’t want anyone to believe this was some golden era for English cricket either. We lost at home to Sri Lanka. We drew at home to Pakistan. We lost a test in Bangladesh. We were beaten 2-0 in UAE. We lost 4-0 in India. We drew 1-1 in West Indies. There were plenty of downtimes against teams a “potential World number 1” should be winning against.

Cook, two tests against Bangladesh apart, took over the England captaincy in the middle of a good old dust up in the wake of the tiresome and stupid Textgate. History will show that a combination of Cook and Flower brought the maverick back, and the results were instant. Of course he ended up leading a reasonably unified England team for a tremendous win in India, down to the brilliance of his batting (nearly always magnificent against spin), the wonderful bowling of Anderson, Swann and Panesar, and of course, that innings in Mumbai. England’s victory was as stunning one, but also one that could, in hindsight be seen as misleading. Cook’s immense performance with the bat put the meme out that he was a “leader from the front”. Mark Butcher, for one, frequently premised comments on Cook with “he’s not a natural captain”. Any tactical nous, such as it was, was down to masses of (his) runs on the board, a magnetic performance or two from either of his two middle order stars, and his many, varied bowling attack. Maybe unfairly, but he never got the credit for that, or the Ashes win in 2013, until much later when it became a shield to protect him from the missiles aimed in his direction, rather than giving stone cold solid examples of how his captaincy had pushed the needle to victory. After 2013 his team were viewed as mean, surly, unpopular and too process driven. The reflection of their coach, and backed, tacitly or otherwise, by the incumbent captain who post-India saw a little drop off in form that started his two year run without a test hundred.

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Yes, 2013-14 was the watershed. It changed everything. It changed English cricket, to a degree it changed cricket journalism, it certainly changed this blogger, it changed the way fans talked and debated on Twitter. It was a cataclysm for England cricket. Fans turned against each other. The media sided with those who wanted to keep the fans in the dark, putting out their talking points, and letting their personal antipathy towards Pietersen cloud their judgement. This was partially Cook’s fault, but much more the ECB and the media. Cook was hung out to dry, made to be the lightning rod. He was in poor form. He had presided over an unmitigated disaster and looked helpless when confronted with it. He looked shot. But he had to be backed, because to do otherwise would actually betray his masters at the ECB and actually opened them up further to ridicule. Imagine, because it happened, when the man appointed to deal with the issue was asked whether he’d considered the position of the losing captain who had presided over that nightmare. “Not really, no” was the answer. Job’s a good ‘un. He could, and did, withstand sheer nonsense.

They were pathetic from the moment Cook allowed Sri Lanka to milk another 40 runs from the remaining seven overs with the old ball without looking to take wickets to the bitter end with Plunkett’s comical demise.

There can be no sparing of a captain who lacked any sense of tactical acumen in the field while his opposite number scored his second consecutive hundred and then carried on his long spell without a century of his own.

(I’ll give you three guesses who wrote this after Headingley 2014)

The anger at the dismissal of a top player without an explanation focused on two main targets. We’ll get to one of them in 3 days time when we celebrate “Outside Cricket Day”, and Alastair Cook was very much the other. Cook was in the room when it happened. He was party to any decision. He promised to explain what happened, and never did (we await his next book for that). He was even, reportedly, one of those who staunchly would not countenance a return even when Comma took the Directorship. Cook, like it or not, became the lightning rod. That’s because massive, abject failures like the abomination of Headingley 2014, that cost us a series for crying out loud, were brushed under the carpet as the mis-steps of a cricket captaincy novice. A greenhorn with little to fall back upon, a callow captain, who we should cut some slack. Journalism went on holiday, and instead we saw puff pieces, plaintive cries from his press poltroons, seeking to blame it on “vile abuse from social media”, while conveniently forgetting to mention that Alastair “doesn’t read Twitter”.

Many say he was close to quitting both then and at Lord’s when England fell to another gormless, abject home defeat. Maybe some of the press corps were beginning to doubt themselves, but they soon changed their mind, with 95 wonderful reasons at Southampton enough to persuade them that the flowers in the garden smelled just fine, and that the general public were right behind him. This innings has gone down in folklore. Centuries by others were ignored to pay homage to the “back to his best” Cook. The reaction was unbecoming, a celebration, a vindication, a revelation. England were back and they didn’t need a weasel with the willow to help them out any more. Case closed.

We sat through two years of every mistake and loss the England team suffered being nothing to do with Cook, and every win a reinforcement of how right the powers that be were. The sacking from the ODI captaincy, which should have been much earlier but the ECB couldn’t afford to upset the Cooks or the press bag carriers, at a time when it was too late to really adjust spoke volumes. It should have happened in the test matches, but it didn’t.  In both cases he needed talent to carry him through, and the test arena brought that likelihood closer. A 2015 Ashes win was, at the very moment of triumph, announced as “redemption for Cook” and Cook alone. Not Broad who had performed manfully down under and had just bowled one of the great spells at Trent Bridge. Not Anderson who had a chastening, injury-ridden tour. Not Root who had been so poor in Australia that he had been dropped. No, it was Alastair Cook. You want to trace the decline of Nasser in our eyes, and you can look right there. This ceased being about Team England. It was Project Cook.

COOKY

To be an England fan upset at the tawdriness of the sacking of Kevin Pietersen over the past three years has been chastening and enlightening. It has been enervating and infuriating. Plenty of highs, many lows. At each step we’ve been told to move on, to get behind the lads, to see Cook less as an England cricket captain in the high-pressure international sport environment, and more a totem of leafy, pastoral England. Farmer, family man, decent fellow, lovely, polite, a true Englishman, a man we should aspire to be, rather than worry about a seemingly shallow, self-obsessed, “maverick” who cared about as much about England as a South Africa might. For Cook it was a calling, a sense of duty and patriotism. For Pietersen it was a job. A badge of convenience. “He only worked there”. Cook was something more pure.

It was a coincidence that Cook’s resignation should take place on this blog’s 2nd birthday. Being Outside Cricket began on this day two years ago, having shut down How Did We Lose In Adelaide, for reasons best kept back in the day. If the issue of Cook as sanctified captain, and KP as wronged outsider, did not matter, if the invocations to move on weren’t rightfully ignored and if the history and people involved did not matter, this blog, and its predecessor, would not have gained the traction and the repeat visitors it has. There are reasons for it. There is a reason why Chris and Sean joined the editorial “board”. There is a reason when on down days we are still turning over double the hits we did in other dry spells. Throughout the two years of BOC, and the previous year of HDWLIA, the voice of supporters who didn’t buy the Cook as wronged, wounded warrior was heard. Many didn’t want it heard, we were told to stop our guesswork, to buy the accounts given to us by those in the know. We waited for this cast iron evidence of what had happened, and yet, and yet. We still wait. We can only conclude that the establishment have nothing to add. It did Cook no favours. It also must be said that Cook hardly did himself any either. This blog, the commenters on it, and the Twitter community that I feel a part of put the case. Many did not want to hear it. They chose to revile us. More fool them.

Cook’s captaincy has been discussed at length. His achievements as leader should not be ignored. Wins in South Africa should not be sniffed at. A couple of Ashes triumphs, hardly on the scale of 2005, but you can only beat what is in front of you, were worthy, but in the case of 2015 owed a lot to some favourable conditions on the wickets outside London. India 2012 can never be downplayed – you are a good general when you win, and Cook did it his way. There’s some credit to go around. Of course there is. Yet the debit is not for now. It makes you wonder when it ever would have been.

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Cook’s reign, in my eyes, will be one of stagnation, not evolution. Of turbulence, not stability. Of poor external environments borne of the inability to be straight with those who might have understood if he had been, not good environments, that seem still to bring forth maddening inconsistency. It will also be remembered as a time when England sacrificed its box office performer and as a result, partly because of it, partly because the trend was inexorable, interest in the test team, in cricket, receded. Loyal supporters, cricket lovers, turned their backs on a game that would rather protect the weak, than assimilate the difficult. Cook’s captaincy was a withering vine from the moment we lost the 4th test at The Oval this summer. Inevitable defeat in India, preceded by a lamentable one (sorry, still think that) in Bangladesh will be spun as taking one for his new captain. I lost faith at Headingley in 2014, fresh from Melbourne in 2013, and I had no confidence in those who might have effected change. Cook paid the price, England paid the price. It’s just that many of his fans just don’t know that yet.

So I shall not lament his descent into the ranks. I shan’t be pouring lachrymose tributes here there and everywhere. I’m not going to plough forth into hyperbolic hypocrisy. I’m sure as hell, with the bloody awful external environment I find myself in at the moment, not going to feel one pang of remorse for my supposed campaign against him. Harsh words could be fired at Pietersen, and still are, but one smidgeon of criticism against the Lord of the Ewes and we’re all lumped in with that professional attention whore Piers Morgan, just because we happen to be on the same side of the argument. It’s crap deflection, it’s unbecoming of the pliant media, and fanboys and girls out there, and while I have always acknowledged that people can, and will disagree, with me on Cook, I’ve seen precious little civil coming back. Now it’s over, maybe we can all breathe, maybe we can all look forward, and maybe, just maybe, this cult will be over.

Lord knows, we need it to be.

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211 thoughts on “This Is Not A Love Story

  1. keyserchris February 6, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Some fine writing, and an accurate summation of Cooks captaincy. Some great wins here & there, but certainly not a great era, as Strauss had before him; nor the highest of peaks achieved under Vaughan.

    Idolatry towards Cook is over the top, and I hope this is the end of 3 years of, well, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clivejw February 6, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    Absolutely typical of C*** to finally quit, three years after he first should have done so, when I no longer care about test cricket, thanks to him, Giles Clarke, Comma, and the rest of the ghastly crew. And typical of him to hold the team to ransom instead of resigning after the Indian test series. Was he waiting for a public wave of sympathy demanding that he stay on?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Philip February 6, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    Bold punchy stuff. It must feel good to get it off your chest.

    One thing I take a little issue with is “Cook’s reign, in my eyes, will be one of stagnation, not evolution. Of turbuience, not stability. Of poor external environments borne of the inability to be straight with those who might have understood if he had been, not good environments, that seem still to bring forth maddening inconsistency. ”

    I would have simply said that from the Aus team onwards (coinciding with the collapse and departure of Swann) Cook’s teams consistently added up to less than the sum of their parts. This is hugely frustrating for the fans. It is also something that on field leadership would have not let happen..

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 6, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      Corrects the turbulence typo.

      I think your conclusion is fair, Philip. I am not sure we are miles apart at all.

      Like

  4. Julie February 6, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    Thanks, Dmitri, I just cannot put words to paper at the moment.Strange emotion last night when I heard.Sort of hate tinged with anger.Will not be reading twitter for a few days. Couldn’t put up with the “crap” that will be there.Glad KP’s in Dubai with his son, about to be a star Gladiator.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. volkerelle February 6, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Thanks, Dmitri, well put. But, alas, there is no closure. English cricket, as far as I can see, is still run by that mob. Cook was simply the most bland and whiney of head boys.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. simplyshirah February 6, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Well said Me Lord. Just sums up the frustration I feel now and felt for last 4 years. Sad to say even with Cook gone I can’t see there being any change in England with the set up they have there. Strauss? Give me strength. Like Julie I won’t be looking at the sycophants on Twitter or anywhere else. Sad to say I cannot even write on TFT as it has been taken over by William from Daily Telegraph fame. Utterly abusive little man who gave both myself and Emasi and bad time. I ditched DT because of him. Now he’s on TFT!!! If he’s not enough they’ve now managed to acquire Pam Nash!!! Hells bells. Can’t get away from the sycophants and those who only want to be rude and abusive Thank heavens your blog is still here; Thank goodness can still read your pieces with your usual incisive truthfulness without all the crap. Cheers Lord Canis. Breath of fresh air.

    Like

  7. SimonH February 6, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Splendid piece. You’ll discover in your email tray shortly why I was late spotting the story!

    A couple of random thoughts:
    1) Cook’s often praised for his mental toughness, resilience and staying power. Yet the team he led had a very poor record in the last Test of series. In 16 series since he took over full-time, England only won 2 last Tests (NZ in 2013 and India in 2014). Increasingly the final Tests were lost and lost badly. The cricket media started off by dismissing it as “dead rubber syndrome”, then when it was clear that more and more of these matches weren’t dead rubbers just ignored it. Why did this happen to the team under Cook?
    2) Not resigning after the 2015 Ashes was a serious mistake. The results since then have been mediocre and without a fortunate win in SA (especially the injuries to Steyn and Philander) would be very poor. More than that, it’s left the new captain with a very tough baptism of series at home against SA and an away Ashes in his first three series.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Mark February 7, 2017 / 12:17 am

        No, sorry, I will not listen to it. I haven’t got a bucket big enough to hold all my vomit.

        Is it the end of an era?…… I doubt it.

        What was your favourite England momemt under Captain Cook?…….. When he got the sack from the ODI team and then threw is toys out of the pram.

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 7:35 am

        Won’t listen: the Twitter comments are enough. Such originality.

        Best

        1. Mumbai and Kolkata 2012, by miles and miles
        2. The Lord’s Test v NZ, 2015
        3. When SL deservedly won the Headingley Test and series 2014 (not sorry)

        Worst

        1. The difficult winter and aftermath, obviously
        2. Absurd overreaction to the 2015 Ashes: redemption narrative, vindication for Downton, comparisons to 2005, FICJAM, Dominic Lawson, Selvey etc
        3. KP/Graves/Strauss fiasco

        Like

      • Riverman21 February 7, 2017 / 6:59 pm

        Slightly against my better judgement i listened to 5 live special on the resignation.
        It struck me that if HRH shuffled off tomorrow her record in office would get a more critical review than Hughes gave on Cook.

        So thoroughly looking forward to Tuffers and Vaughan!

        Its good to come hear for a witty and accurate take on events. Feeling pretty confident we will see more of the same searing insights from MSM moving forwards so fully expect you to have plenty more material in a post-Cook world. And at least thankfully this site to remind me that sane people still exist.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark February 6, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    A very good description of the past 3 years Peter. The great song writer John Prine wrote a funny ditty called ‘Jesus, the missing years.’ This period has been “English cricket, the missing years.” Or if you prefer….. The wasted years. When a national team was hijacked by a discredited elite, and for political reasons elevated a figurehead to captain the team, with shady people pulling strings behind the throne.

    Man in a barrel in the tread below poses the question “would you have liked to play for Cook? I certainly wouldn’t. He had all the hall marks of a grotesque leader. He gobbled up all the credit for himself when it went well, and was never to blame when the wheels came off. He was petulant, and quite unsupportive of some of his players when it suited. Easy to do when you have a compliant media to give a helping hand. The number of players that have been cowardly character assassinated by the Cook Media has been shameful. Their ability, their mental strength, even their sanity have been questioned by the Pygmy press.

    The question now is will we see any real change? Will the media grow some integrity and start doing their job? Or will things continue as normal.? To some extent that depends on Root. If he plays along with the media they will give him a free pass. As long as he gives them some love. Keeps the cosy candle lit dinners going where he pours his heart out about how though it is. Keeps the pictures of wife and family coming, and above all keeps those tasty leaks flowing into the media plumbing. They will particularly like him if he passes on the character assassinations of the players who don’t fit.

    But it many ways it doesn’t really matter. England have now adopted a Playstation model. Where the captain is plugged into a machine operated by various coaches and hangers on. Loyalty to the masters is more important than flair and talent. Blind obedience is praised, and any thought of individualism is frowned on and quickly destroyed. That’s the real story of the ending of the KP era, and the rise of the automatons Probably why hardly anyone cares anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Tony Bennett February 6, 2017 / 10:13 pm

    Magnificent piece. For the last three years I’ve had an image of Cook in my mind, from one of the one day internationals at the tail end of the 2013/14 tour. He was of course still the ODI skipper then. I don’t remember which match it was, but Australia were batting well, and a ball was hit into the outfield. As it was returned the camera suddenly rested on Cook. His eyes were glazed. Unfocused. Totally disengaged. He was shot then and I was certain that he wanted to give up the captaincy. The fact that he didn’t tells us everything we need to know about the leadership of England cricket. Thank the lord we are through with the cult now.

    Like

    • oreston February 6, 2017 / 11:58 pm

      Problem is, I don’t think we are altogether through with the cult – at least not so far as the England’s Greatest Batsman part of it is concerned. We’ve simply entered a new phase. Will the media have to work double time from now on to shield their idol if his performances with the willow don’t match the hype? Or will they simply continue to ignore all the pretty little 30s and 40s and (for a supposedly World class player) inordinantly lengthy gaps between centuries while refusing to draw any conclusions? What do you think?
      Don’t get me wrong, if he could recover some of his early career form that would be fantastic and a huge boost for the team. At least there would be some rationale to the mythos built up around him then.
      What I fear though is that he’ll remain as he has been for the last three years – somewhat inconsistent and mediocre – and continue to be protected until he deigns to retire in another five or six years’ time, becoming a bit of liability in the process and potentially blocking entry into the test team for talented younger players (…assuming we can find a few more like Hameed and Jennings who aren’t just hit ‘n’ giggle specialists).
      We’ll also likely have the spectacle of future captains seeking his wise council in the field and that not being called out for a joke.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mark February 6, 2017 / 11:34 pm

      Another rebuke for Newman. When the Mail wants to talk about the big cricket issues they bring in their football journos to do it.

      Newman is just a plumber. Dealing with all the leaks.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Philip February 7, 2017 / 8:05 am

      God that article is dreadful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 8:24 am

      Bloody hell it is (truly dreadful). An early contender for the annual raspberry.

      The captaincy stat includes Bangladesh 2010. It also helps *somewhat* when you play 16 Tests in Asia, plus 13 against Asian teams in England (that’s almost exactly half of his Tests as captain, btw), and only four against SA at home or away, I suppose…

      As for this, words fail me. It’s a genuine quote, for all those who haven’t read the article, or for those who clutched their pearls when we brought up this incident a few times:

      “It was this side of Cook that came through with the decision to end Pietersen’s England career. The personal abuse Cook took over that was unprecedented. To some, it was like he had shot Bambi.
      Yet what I also recall from my meeting with Cook was that he was very keen to show off a gory photograph of a Chinese water deer that he had killed on a hunt the day before. It was his first, and he had already got the picture in a frame. He might have known there would be a backlash, but he did not care.
      Shooting Bambi did not bother him, captaincy did not faze him and he remained the same, outstanding opener for England through it all.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 8:29 am

        Correction: 16 plus 14 against Asian sides, so just over half.

        Average v Asian sides: 53.93
        Average v non-Asian sides: 36.74

        Like

      • Zephirine February 7, 2017 / 2:49 pm

        Is that being heroically un-fazed, or exceptionally indifferent to the feelings and opinions of others?

        Liked by 1 person

    • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 2:18 pm

      Oh it is so awful. Couldn’t carry on reading after first couple of paras. Sycophantic or what.

      Like

  10. man in a barrel February 6, 2017 / 11:34 pm

    For what it’s worth, I would appoint Anderson and Broad as joint captains, if Anderson is ever truly fit again. I think both of them remember when things were tough – Anderson in 2003 when a certain South African scored 250 runs because of all the balls on leg stump, Broad for running into a certain Australian wicket keeper. I suspect they would have managed the spinners better than Cook, simply from empathy, having been there. You can see them helping Woakes and Stokes.

    Like

  11. man in a barrel February 6, 2017 / 11:38 pm

    To follow on, Border did toughen up the Australian team, but he was hard as nails, ruthless and totally determined. He never gave an inch on the cricket field. The England team has no one in that mould that I can see. Not Root. Stokes is about 5 years old and his figures are far from world class. No one else is a real certainty. Broad and Anderson as joint captains. They seem to do everything together as it is.

    Like

    • oreston February 7, 2017 / 12:14 am

      That’s a scandalous rumour! Do their partners know? 🙂

      Seriously though, I think you’ll look in vain for the likes of Border these days. Even the Aussies seem to have misplaced the mould that he came out of.

      Broad and Jimmy as co-captains? Hardly a long term plan, with Jimmy in particular suddenly prone to (ahem) soreness and in the dying embers of his career. Can you imagine what would happen with those two in charge if any batsman (other than Cooky, natch) were foolish enough to drop a catch?

      Like

      • man in a barrel February 7, 2017 / 12:24 am

        Give them responsibility and see if they can shape up. They could hardly be worse than Commander Cook

        Like

      • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 1:34 pm

        Probably the only genuine revelation in the torrent of newsprint over the last 36 hours is Bull’s claim that Anderson had wanted the captaincy (that is the captaincy proper as opposed to simple de facto captaincy of deciding most of on-field strategy which Anderson did for quite a while).

        Anderson’s role in the England set-up is something I really hope some memoirs shed some light on, because he’s kept his cards very close to his chest. Whatever one thought, it’s too late now.

        Possibly Root’s toughest first decision is going to be what to do with Anderson. Does he stay in the team – and if so, does he retain the same role (ie leading strike-bowler with automatic choice of ends and use of the new ball)? Does he go to Australia?

        Like

      • Zephirine February 7, 2017 / 2:53 pm

        I knew Anderson had wanted the captaincy, can’t remember how I found that out. It wasn’t a secret. Perhaps he should have a go now, he’s been calling the shots via Cook for long enough.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Zephirine February 6, 2017 / 11:39 pm

    One of the achievements of Eoin Morgan has been to be simply an Irish bloke captaining a cricket team.

    Nobody writes breathless pieces about his square-jawed steely choirboy humbleness, or asserts that although a highly successful professional athlete he ‘has no ego’. It just wouldn’t work.

    Even the shrieks from Tunbridge Wells BTL that the fellow was a craven mercenary and should be shot at dawn faded away quite fast, because hyperbole washes off him. He just explains what he’s doing and then does it. If it fails, he says sorry.

    It would be very good if Root could be similar (only Yorkshire, obv).

    Liked by 3 people

  13. man in a barrel February 7, 2017 / 12:06 am

    Zeph, I don’t think Root is there yet. He looks as if he is playing for fun and that does not work unless you have a team at your level. Whereas the England team lacks a proven opener, most of the middle order, a wicket-keeper etc. Let Root bat. Let the senior guys play captain, now that Bell is out of the picture #newman #etheridge

    Like

    • Zephirine February 7, 2017 / 2:55 pm

      I don’t think sharing would work, though, MIB. Broad has already had a turn as T20 captain. Anderson could be Test captain for a year or so – I know what you mean about Root, and I’m not sure he really wants it either. Bairstow could be good, but again not immediately.

      Like

  14. Maxie Allen February 7, 2017 / 12:35 am

    I disliked Cook even before the Pietersen affair. However he came across in private to hacks and grandees – “good bloke”, etc – he never on the field showed any genuine appetite or facility for leadership. Cook’s strength as a batsman has been his relentless patience and stamina, but this strength only illustrates his natural insularity – an insularity which, as captain, rendered him both aloof and ineffective.

    It’s always struck me that you can’t judge a captain by what happens when his bowers are rampant over the opposition: all his work is being done for him, The true test of captaincy is when the batsmen have gained total control, and in such situations Cook was completely useless – lacking the imagination, authority, and bravery, to attempt to wrestle back the initiative or even staunch the runs. He just stood there at slip, helpless and hopeless.

    The press’s adoration of Cook led to a devaluation of the currency of captaincy. Serious journalists began praising him for that most asinine achievement of “creating the right environment” in which others could flourish.

    It’s not Cook’s fault that he grew up with such powerful mentors as Gooch, Pringle, and Nasser. But a man of greater moral and intellectual fibre than he would have realised that the cricket world was more complex and multi-dimensional that his indulged upbringing (in cricketing terms) might have led him to believe. But because he didn’t, he had virtually no conception of life outside his bubble – or that England followers, and commentators, had no obligation to orientate their world view around him, and around his interests. In consequence, his only response to criticism or scrutiny was surly evasiveness or outraged egotism.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Mark February 7, 2017 / 12:43 am

      Great post Maxie. And your points are dead on the money.

      The Good bloke stuff was utter bullshit as far as Iam concerned. The more the media tells me a particular group think line the more suspicious I become. The media were protecting him, so the eulogies about his character and his wife and his school were all filling to cover up the elephant in the room. Namely, that he was a crap captain.

      Like

    • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 2:03 pm

      “a man of greater moral and intellectual fibre”.

      Always great to hear from Maxie of course.

      One thing I find it hard to forgive Cook for is acquiescing in taking the field without the strongest team possible. I can’t imagine any captain I respect who would have acquiesced in that (putting Cook’s role at its most moderate). Would Ian Chappell have stared at his shoes if told they weren’t selecting Doug Walters any more because he was something of a piss-head (Walters was nicknamed ‘Hanoi’ because he was bombed every night)? Of course not – Walters had the ability to play the sort of match-changing innings no-one else could (like the century in a session at the WACA in ’74/75 or a reputedly brilliant century on a bunsen in the WI in ’72/73).

      Even if one ignores the Pietersen saga, Cook didn’t have the nous to realise that once the ECB had bet the house on him in 2014, he was in a very strong position (especially after Southampton). There is no evidence that Cook used that position to make a stand on anything (except not bringing Pietersen back). As Churchill said, having enemies shows you stood up for something. Cook’s lack of enemies in English cricket (bar that one, pace Pringle) is not proof what a nice guy he is (for the zillionth time, it doesn’t matter – and what is this weird obsession with stressing it?) but a badge of shame. Where is the evidence he took a stand on these ridiculous schedules? Or anything? Giles Clarke picked his man – whatever one thinks about Clarke he didn’t get where he is today without seeing weakness and knowing how to exploit it.

      Can anyone imagine the ‘Alastair Cook Spirit of Cricket Lecture’? “Um, er…. privilege to play…. er [picks nose]…. “.

      Liked by 4 people

      • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 2:18 pm

        “Can anyone imagine the ‘Alastair Cook Spirit of Cricket Lecture’?”

        Angelo Mathews, probably….

        #exceptionalbloke

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 7, 2017 / 2:56 pm

        Absolutely brilliant Simon.

        Cook was too stupid to realise the power he had after Southampton, and was just a yes man. He was insecure which is why they had to get rid of KP.

        The only stand he made was not wearing the right helmet. Completely selfish.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 3:09 pm

        I’d forgotten about the helmet!

        I also think Bayliss has done Cook up like a kipper. India was always likely to be a nightmare so let Cook take charge of selection and tactics. The lack of flak flying towards Bayliss has been extraordinary. (I’m not saying that it should or that Bayliss should go – just that the way the likes of Newman tiptoe around him is amazing).

        If they don’t win the CT, and with a new captain, that can’t go on for much longer….

        Like

      • Maxie Allen February 8, 2017 / 10:49 pm

        Superb analysis, Simon, and thanks for the kind words.

        Like

  15. bevivek February 7, 2017 / 8:33 am

    New to this blog and seems a great place for alt cricket opinion.

    Great post. Re Cook, have always felt his total conviction that he was the man for the job interfered with him reading the signs. He could not even figure it out in ODIs where his SR of 77.13 (and modest average) were in stark contrast to those of his peers (both in the English side and in other teams) who were averaging close to 90 or higher. Such was the self-belief that he had the gall to say post the 2016 WC disaster that he should not have been fired and he had been the man for the job, Apart from the delusionary nature of this comment was the fact that he was kicking Morgan when he was down. Curious thing to do for a ‘an all round nice guy’.

    Given this, it is difficult to imagine him reading the tea leaves right on his test captaincy where his batting and the strengths of a good team (and it is one), have shrouded the many deficiencies of his captaining style / method (hugely risk averse and where there never ever seems to have been a plan B).

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2017 / 8:52 am

      Welcome bevivek, although I’m not sure I like the alt cricket tag!

      I’ve long been past angry about Cook. Another symptom of the malaise effecting English cricket. Propping him up was more important than the game. That’s what it came down to. Had little to do with what he did on the pitch. I am now intrigued about what happens with his next bad run of form. Will be fascinating how the media react. You know. That media that have him such a hard time.

      Like

      • bevivek February 7, 2017 / 9:42 am

        Thanks and apologies for the AC tag, just meant it provides an alternative to MSM 🙂

        Being Indian, and thus no stranger to hagiographic portrayals, my experience has been that they lose their lustre kinda fast after they step down or quit. MSD for example is now just another player and there have been articles during the recent Ind-Eng series questioning whether he still belongs. The next stage will be how they cover Yuvraj, with the strong sense that the best days of a favourite son are over. And then it will be truly over. Ask SRT.

        Like

    • oreston February 7, 2017 / 9:56 am

      I just had a quick look at that. So sad that the author’s name doesn’t come as that big a surprise these days.
      How did it all come to this? Money? Surely there must be more to it than that to make a man give up his professional integrity like that…

      Like

      • Mark February 7, 2017 / 10:10 am

        One of the funniest aspects of the Cook captancy is how it made almost every cricket journalist commit professional integrity suicide. They literally all sky dived off the top of a building head first into credibility oblivion.

        The very fact they still lie about how tough a time Cook had it when at the same time they were all propping him up just shows how dishonest they are.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2017 / 10:06 am

      Where do you start with this tweet?

      Like

      • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 10:10 am

        F*** me. Football started in 1992 and now cricket started some time between 2009 and 2012?

        Like

      • Mark February 7, 2017 / 10:22 am

        Never mind Pringle, his credibility ship sailed years ago. Who’s this Pro skills coaching?

        Whoever they are they must be knuckle dragging morons if they thought Cook made England high achievers. (By the way, the very term “High achievers” reveals the kind clip board clutching snake oil salesman they probably are.)

        Does this moron forget Vaughns captaincy? Does he not remember Nasser having to toughen England up in an age of fantastic bowling attacks? Jeez even Strauss was a better captain than Cook. Probably not, because he looks about 14.

        Cook lived in an age of average sides with very average bowling attacks . If ProSliiks coaching doesn’t understand that they should go and sell potatoes because that’s all they’re fit for. Pro skill coaching? Are they on the ECB payroll?

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2017 / 10:26 am

          I am loathe to highlight tweets these days as it is a little unfair but this had an effect on me. There cannot be any earthly reason how the changes in the early 2000s can be overlooked.

          Still, I guess the Fletcher teams lost against Sri Lanka at home and I must have missed it.

          Like

      • amit garg February 7, 2017 / 10:28 am

        A worthy candidate for my LOL moment of the day. LOL

        Like

      • nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 10:34 am

        Someone writes that and you think *you’re* being unfair…?

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2017 / 10:46 am

          I know. I have a conscience. Damn my mother and father for passing that down.

          Like

      • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 3:03 pm

        Flipping Heck. What is it with this lot. These journos – so-called – have no integrity whatsoever. We have had some good Captains some of whom were successful but were bullies and damaged the careers and games of some very talented players. Then we’ve had some exceptional captains who knew how to manage a team and were effective on & off the pitch. In my time of watching cricket the two that always stand out are Brierley & Vaughan – good tacticians and good man-managers. Cook was never Good or Exceptional He was at best mediocre.

        Unbelievable rubbish from so many of these journos.

        Like

      • Clivejw February 7, 2017 / 6:00 pm

        I don’t know who Pro Skills is, but when I replied to the above tweet, asking if he remembered the golden years in the 00s of Vaughan and Strauss, and also the fact that Hussain saved England cricket at the start of the decade, he said “no, Vaughan was the best [desp[ite ‘failures of 00s’?], Hussain won nothing.”

        So first series win against West Indies (when they still had some good players) for 30 odd years was nothing. The series win in Pakistan with Hussain and Thorpe ‘dancing in the dark’ was nothing. Coming from 0-1 behind to win series in Sri Lanka (something we haven’t done since) was nothing. This is a post-factual world and none of our memories are worth a damn.

        Liked by 2 people

    • amit garg February 7, 2017 / 10:24 am

      Wasn’t difficult to guess, to be honest. The real question is does Cook have the courage to do what Nasser did with Strauss on horizon? It would seem that Hameed and Jennings do have potential. Now that would have earned respect.

      Like

    • Simon K February 7, 2017 / 10:43 am

      Among the tragedies of Cook is that his two Ashes victories – not to be sniffed at regardless of context – have already been forgotten by all but a handful of people. The 2015 “career defining” series was frankly most notable for being the poorest quality Ashes of my lifetime – an opposite force hitting a movable object, as the scorelines indicate…

      By contrast, 2013/14 holds firm in the memory and will be talked about for years to come. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Elaine Simpson Long February 7, 2017 / 10:00 am

    Because of Cook, his spineless behaviour over KP, his petulance and his total,uselessness as a captain, I have spent the last three years cheering on the opposition. Any opposition. And yes even the Aussies. Ok shoot me I just do nor care any more. That is what the ECB, Chef and Comma have done. A plague on all their houses

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Grenville February 7, 2017 / 10:06 am

    Moen for captain. That’s what I say. I want him at 5 or 6, i e as a batsman who can bowl a decent spell if need be. Much like colly did. He is bright, articulate and likeable. I also can’t see him giving a shit what broad and Anderson think. As Amla said, you don’t get to the top looking like that unless you’re tough. Never going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Julie February 7, 2017 / 10:13 am

    Elaine, we must be old, or something.I too have supported anyone who played against England even though I felt sorry for a few of the boys who KP had helped.Would like them to have supported him but of course they would then not have been in the team.Wonder how much trust there was in the dressing room.😨

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Rpoultz February 7, 2017 / 10:32 am

    It seems that as much as I wanted this day to come I am almost sad that it has arrived. The total drivel of all the articles and comments on twitter are even worse than expected.

    Points made above and on the previous thread are correct and, thankfully, the actual truth rather than exaggerated opinion, hyperbole or downright lies. The greatest of them all is Nassers comment that he is the toughest cricketer England has ever produced. No mention of the English cricketers who fought in the war and then played? Indeed even in my lifetime cricketers such as trescothick and Thorpe who have fought demons off the pitch to comeback in various forms of the game seem far tougher than thin skinned Cook. Even atherton and Stewart, and perhaps Hussain himself for playing in an era of constant selectoral change and battling actual modern day great players, and an actual MSM that called into account the teams performances. Even more so Nasser for his stance and leadership during the Zimbabwe affair in 2003. I’ve rambled a bit there but I used to bloody love Nasser and to see that admiration of him evaporate from me has been sad.

    Cook won a lot of tests as captain but also lost the most of any captain. This maybe tells the story that above all the bullshit about being a good bloke etc in that as a captain he was mediocre, as graves might say. His team, with all the talent, the wealth of coaches and staff at their disposal etc consistently under performed and, as noted above, were less than the sum of their parts. This team of cooks, during the aptly described lost years of English cricket, chopped and changed, gave out caps like confetti and ended many a career, some of which before they even had a chance to show what they could do.

    Although it is understood that a period of change would occur due to the age of many of the players in the aftermath of the Strauss regime the team is not in a very good position with anywhere from 4-5 positions still up for grabs in the test team. That is his legacy for me. He has shaped a team that has no sense of direction, no cohesion and above all no style of play.

    I will always remember a comment by cook after Lords in 2014 against India. He said that, despite him not actually having an Achilles and keeping like a sieve, that Prior was the best wicket keeper in England. This was after he had actually stood next to James Foster at first slip playing for Essex that season. But that was our Cooky, unaware of anything outside his cosy bubble.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark February 7, 2017 / 11:10 am

      I have little to no time for Nasser now. He pissed away all his credibility blowing smoke up Cooks behind. Thing is, he really didn’t have to do it.

      The media pinned their tail to the giant donkey that is Cook and they were proved wrong. They haven’t got the integrity to admit it. So they just keep on lying.

      I think it will continue with Root. The power players who run English cricket just want a ceremonial captain. All the big decisions are taken above the captains head. That’s why they liked Cook. He had no original ideas of his own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 3:07 pm

        Sad but very true. Still Cook was “one of us” and “from the right sort of family with the right sort of background.” So that must be okay then.

        Like

  20. nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 11:09 am

    The Loyal Toast:

    Like

    • pktroll (@pktroll) February 7, 2017 / 11:17 am

      I’m sure I recall him being rather abusive towards a suggestion that it was time for Cook to move on as captain even a few weeks ago. To be honest a tribute from Selvey as towards him being an exceptional bloke is nigh on an opportunity to think the opposite. Poor Cookie!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 7, 2017 / 11:25 am

        Absolutely. Selvey had his cricketing highlight of the year Strauss calling KP a c***. I think that tells you what a fraud Selvey is on the good bloke scale.

        Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 3:14 pm

        Kiss of death then? Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts as they always end up with death.

        Like

    • Mark February 7, 2017 / 11:24 am

      But your judgement is about as credible as a pile of dog shit Selvey. So when you say someone is a good bloke…… they’re probably more like an arrogant c***

      I have yet to see one thing that makes Cook an exceptional bloke. Not one. You would think these brown nosing media types could offer some evidence. But they can’t. We just have to take their word for it. And I think we all know from bitter experience that their word is not very reliable.

      There really is something very creepy about the relationship between these journos and Cook. I have never seen another sportsman where so much emphasis is put on his good blokeness. Is that the role of the modern sports journo these days? To acertain how good a bloke is? My how the standards have fallen.

      Liked by 2 people

    • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      Bloody hell I thought I had got away from Selvey!!! I note he doesn’t say an exceptional cricket captain! Oh he says so much in that admission. Glad he’s out of the journo loop along with his joined-at-hip moronic partner Pringle. The Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Cricket.

      Like

  21. Zephirine February 7, 2017 / 11:38 am

    It remains a mystery. What did they see that we can’t see? Why the adoration? Maybe one day psychologists will study the phenomenon as an example of groupthink.

    I actually think Cook is exceptional, in that he’s really quite odd. His abilty to simply exclude anything that doesn’t suit his worldview is unusual, to say the least. But not admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer February 8, 2017 / 3:36 am

      Possibly the best post I’ve read on the whole thing, zeph. Quite how you fit so much in so few words is always baffling to me – I don’t have that skill.

      Your second paragraph: I do wonder how may top sports people have that same quality, however. There are different ways to be very good at something, but that is certainly one of them.

      Back to the snow bunker for me. I’m playing my mulligan on this.

      Like

    • Sri Grins February 8, 2017 / 4:33 am

      awesome summary, @Zeph

      Like

      • Zephirine February 8, 2017 / 11:28 am

        Thank you both, however I have written many more verbose posts on Cook in the past so I guess this was the distilled version.

        You’re right of course, q, but there seems something different in the Cook narrowness of vision. Kind of like a child who’ll only eat spaghetti hoops.

        Like

  22. nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    LCL/TLG/Sean:

    It’s over.

    You had a good run.

    You can’t deal with the new reality.

    You can’t fight this kind of logic.

    SnivellingWretch
    21m ago

    Well, I’ve been told for years that Cook captaincy was holding England back and we would be winning more tests if we were more aggressive.
    So let’s watch the endless victories roll in now, then.
    If there is no difference in the win rate that will have the consequence that the various anti-Cook guys BTL will have been 100% proven to have been talking bollocks.
    If we win more tests I will accept that maybe they had a point but that’s fine with me if England are winning.
    If we lose more than under Cook, say from declaring too early or the batsmen throwing away their wickets with overly aggressive shots, then, oh dear, will the anti-Cook crowd have the decency to admit they were completely wrong about Cook?

    Like

    • Mark February 7, 2017 / 12:39 pm

      Bullshit. They will never accept it.

      Cook has walked out with two very difficult series coming up. Although it sounds like SA might not be bringing a full strength team.

      If Root is succesful these liars will say…….”Root inherited the Cook team and he learned his expertise at the feet of the great Cook.”

      If Root loses They will blame us. They will never admit they were wrong. Never!

      Like

  23. nonoxcol February 7, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Here’s #39 blithely ignoring the fact (as most do) that England haven’t beaten Pakistan since 2010…

    Like

    • amit garg February 7, 2017 / 1:07 pm

      Irrespective of series results, in last 5 years (to date) England have lost more test matches than won against SA, Pakistan, Australia and India. They are 1-1 against Bangladesh and only have favorable numbers against SL, NZ and WI – relative 2nd tier in comparison. This doesn’t exactly come out in any ANALysis. Does it?

      Like

      • Andy February 7, 2017 / 1:47 pm

        Ah, but as the guardian likes to emphasise;

        “Cook, who won eight and lost just four of his 17 series in charge and whose highlights included two Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015”

        So he didn’t win nine series then…. and won twice against a comparatively crap Aus team and doesn’t mention the absolute steam rollering we got against said crap Aus team

        Like

    • Ian February 7, 2017 / 1:09 pm

      Except we didn’t hold all test trophies at one point.

      Like

      • Ian February 7, 2017 / 1:12 pm

        Which you pointed out. I only read the tweet sorry

        Like

    • d'Arthez February 7, 2017 / 1:50 pm

      Uh, yeah, the last time was nearly half a century ago, if I am not mistaken (and I would not be surprised that that was partly due to the sporting ban, since the last decisive Test series between SA and England was won by SA; so technically it has to be before 1965). But why be bothered by facts, as a “professional” analyst right?

      By the time England actually won a series against South Africa (2016), they had already lost against Pakistan in the UAE (2012).

      If I am not mistaken, India have 8 bilateral trophies at the moment – Australia is the missing one for India.

      And bear in mind that over the last 5 years, England have had 5 home Tests against Sri Lanka, and just two in Sri Lanka, to lead 3-2 on aggregate. So the upcoming series may well hand back the head-to-head advantage to Sri Lanka.

      Like

      • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 2:59 pm

        The last time England held all the trophies was between beating India in 1974 and losing in Australia in 1974/75. That depends on not counting SA because the trophy was not then contestable (I don’t think many people would have put money on England to have beaten Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Mike Proctor and the rest).

        Why does Hughes care anyway? He wants to abolish all Tests except the Ashes* so why bother about something with no future?

        * This is in his ‘Six Points to save English cricket’ in ‘The Cricketer’ and available through his Twitter account. It’s quite an eye-opener.

        Like

      • d'Arthez February 8, 2017 / 5:00 am

        Since the original story was about holding all the 9 bilateral trophies (Broad last year; in the same article Broad betrayed a bit of ignorance on the topic of other teams achieving such feats), it is fair to assume that that also included the bilateral trophy against Zimbabwe – which England can’t contest at the moment, since there is a sporting ban in place for UK teams. Does anyone remember the whole fiasco with an ICC final that was supposed to be between Zimbabwe and Scotland?

        But anyway, the point is that it was a long time ago for England. Someone who is a professional cricket writer should at least not get it absolutely wrong, and ignore results that actually led to what is Cook’s greatest triumph (in India 2012).

        Like

  24. ianrsa February 7, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Selvey, the flea to Pringles running dog.

    His public fellating of Cook in the Guardian was gorge inducing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 5:39 pm

      Should anyone wish to induce some gorge, here’s Exhibit A:

      https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/oct/15/alastair-cook-england-century-pakistan

      Of course it was a fine innings and deserved a fulsome tribute – but the first nine paragraphs with the obligatory references to sweating and his lordliness? And profound meanings read into his century celebration?

      The last day of that match would be a strong Exhibit B with Selvey getting pathetically worried that Rashid’s first five-for for an England leg-spinner since the 1950s might take too much credit away from Cook. A toss up between that and the 45 that was actually 43 but worth a hundred at TB in 2015 as its main rival.

      Some bloke also scored 245 in that match. He was batting out of position at No.3 and facing England’s finest seam attack in Asian conditions (according to Selvey). He didn’t get two full paragraphs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ianrsa February 8, 2017 / 6:47 am

        G’day Quebecer, I hope that you’re well.

        Like

  25. Sir Peter February 7, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Was I dreaming or did Matthew Hoggard MBE – our Yorkshire boy – go on Radio 2 talking about England’s greatest captain yesterday?

    Like

    • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 10:29 pm

      What? He’s having a laugh surely. He played under Vaughan or has he forgotten that.

      Like

  26. Benny February 7, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    I don’t believe Cook should ever have been made captain. I’ve bored you on here before that I’ve had long, successful years as a senior manager in a financial corporate (serious stuff) and I see no leadership qualities in Cook that would tempt me to give him a job.

    Guess we’ll never be permitted to know what went on behind the scenes but I suspect Strauss’s retirement took the non-planning ECB by surprise. Who to promote? Better make it the vice captain. Our selectors couldn’t be accused of having imagination or inspiration and I’m sure you can bet your house on Root being the new man.

    For me, England’s great need is for a top coach – a new Duncan Fletcher would suit me and, I believe, would be just what a novice Test captain requires.

    Liked by 1 person

    • simplyshirah February 7, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Oh if only there was another Vaughan/Fletcher team; Made in heaven.

      Like

  27. Mark February 7, 2017 / 6:44 pm

    One of the most interesting things about he Cook resignation is Agnew deciding to reveal in all his glory how biased he has been for Cook. Oh Sorry. Of course he hasn’t actually admitted such a thing. However this tweet from PMorgan is rather interesting

    “Yesterday, BBC’s @Aggerscricket
    called me ‘deluded’ & ‘ignorant’ for saying Cook sacked KP.
    Today, Cook admits it.”

    I listened to Agnew during the summer of 2014 and his bias was revolting. At every turn he defended Cook and interrupted anyone who tried to put the other side of the case. His demand after the victory against India that the whole cricket community must now get behind Cook was biased clap trap. Not what you expect from the BBC. Although their standards have gone right down the toilet in recent years.

    How was it that the BBC allowed their cricket correspondent to do a commercial deal with the same company that sponsored the England team? The very same outfit Agnew was supposed to be calling to account?

    All the way through this affair Agnew has tried to hide behind his fake niceness and impartiality. I don’t listen to TMS anymore because of his biased coverage and his cake chomping Cook brown nosers. And his pathetic attempt to claim he called it as he saw it without favour to Michael Parkinson. ” I know the Broad family, I walk my dog with Stuart, I will call him out if I feel he did something wrong.” Well yes, that depends doesn’t it? Failure to walk is a breach of the fake niceness Agnew holds dear. But having access to a fake Twitter account from the heart of the England dressing room is another thing. Agnew even tried to muddy the water about what it means to have a password.

    Agnew has been very biased about the Cook affair. Still waiting for how he got the tip off about the KP/Strauss meeting. It was almost as if he was working hand in glove with the ECB? His reputation in my eyes has been destroyed by the Cook captaincy. I will never believe another word he says.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. BoredInAustria February 7, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    Cook in the Guardian:
    “I ….I …..”.“…..I’ve ….my….I’ve…. I ….., I….I ……”. “When I looked in that mirror, I ……, I’ve…..me,……” “…… I …..I ….. I …. myself. I…..my …….”

    Good riddance to the narcist.Good riddance to rewarding mediocricy and party membership.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 7, 2017 / 10:58 pm

      One was in the middle of a dignified silence. One was showing aplomb. One was snorting and telling us to move on. Guess the others.

      Handle it better? Try talking now rather than saving it for an autobiography.

      Like

      • SimonH February 7, 2017 / 11:09 pm

        “Yes, I was part of the decision making, as six or seven other people were” (Cook)

        “the decision made by Cook, Andy Flower and Paul Downton to sack Pietersen”. (Newman)

        So who were the other three or four?

        Like

      • pktroll (@pktroll) February 8, 2017 / 9:17 am

        One bloke I know says that he will ‘always respect Cook for the “vitriolic abuse” that came his way. Well for one he wasn’t on social media so he wouldn’t have known. It is fair to say many of us were vitriolic about him. Towards the end of the time some of us did realise that he was a mere lightening rod for the imbeciles in high office in the ECB but that doesn’t condone some of his behaviour around and just after that “difficult winter”. Particularly his behaviour with regards to whining about Warne being horrible about him then turning on the likes of Swann and then Morgan as he lost his grip with the ODI team. That’s keeping his counsel alright. Pathetic really,

        Secondly it wasn’t the mainstream media that gave him “vitriolic abuse”. If keeping his own counsel being a whiny not fit for purpose, self absorbed muppet then I guess that’s okay. But as Shania Twain once sang, ‘That don’t impress me much!’

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 9:31 am

          We have been told about integrity. Lots of times. Integrity is not maintaining a “dignified silence” (c) Newman, because you couldn’t think of anything to say on KP that doesn’t make you and that decision making committee look like utter cretins.

          Just let time and the assimilation of hatred against your bete noire do the work for you.

          We have not been as vitriolic as the media have been towards KP. Not in their league. And we’re not in the league of those who abuse him on Twitter. We just put a case that remains to be answered. Just why did you get rid of him Cooky?

          Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 7:39 am

      Lost count of the personal pronouns, stopped reading.

      What a tedious, self-absorbed little man.

      No-one on 5Live – and certainly not the dauphin himself – seems ever to have wondered what it was like to be sacked in unprecedented public fashion, and subject to a transparent character assassination in the press.

      Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 7:56 am

        Seriously though, has anyone ever come across a smidgeon of empathy for someone he played alongside for eight years? Do provide a link if so. Everything he says about the affair concerns the effect on me me me me me. He isn’t even grateful to the governing body who backed him to the hilt. He has the sheer gall to complain about being “hung out to dry” even though he kept his job after a total bloody humiliation and participated in scapegoating someone else.

        I don’t believe anyone could have such a blinkered perspective unless they have been indulged and cossetted for years and years.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 8:30 am

          Dave Kidd in the Sun, heartily endorsed by Etheridge has a piece in which Cook is a good egg and KP a “human stink bomb “. It was all going badly until Comma put a stop to it.

          Jeez. Do these people stop to think for one minute?

          Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 8:37 am

        Does that beat fruit fly? I guess it probably does.

        How to ensure the schism grows ever wider. They learned nothing. No way back.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 8:46 am

          I always said wait until Cook retired and you’d see the hounds of hell released. The press and media would fawn over Cook and unleash their rage against Kp once more. But without the need for justification or more information as to, you know, what happened.

          We are needed more than ever. The press should be on their knees begging us to stick with a sport that told us to fuck off. Instead they choose to tell us again. It is their way.

          Liked by 2 people

  29. Clivejw February 8, 2017 / 1:06 am

    You may have seen my account of my Twitter exchange with the idiot calling himself “Pro Sports Coaching” above. After he claimed that Cook turned England into high achievers after the losing times of the 90s and 00s, then reversed himself (without acknowledging it) by opining that Vaughan was “the best” before dismissing Hussain as having won “nothing,” I reminded him of the away series wins against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and the home win against West Indies for first time in 30 years. His reply?

    “I was in the West Indies changing room at headingley they weren’t bothered.”

    I think I will let him have the last word; you know what they say about wrestling with a pig. Though it’s tempting to ask if he’d been coaching the West Indies batsmen before their 61 a.o.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clivejw February 8, 2017 / 1:32 am

      OK, so it was too tempting….

      Like

    • d'Arthez February 8, 2017 / 5:33 am

      You mean the same Nasser Hussain, who was never whitewashed by Australia?

      You mean the same Nasser Hussain, whose team plummeted the depths of the ICC rankings, and still ended up with a superior W/L record to Alastair Cook? Now, that is some serious transformation, going on at the end.

      They were high achievers under Vaughan in particular – W26, L11, more than twice the W/L record to Cook (if you exclude Bangladesh 2010, where he was temporarily in charge Cook’s is W22, L22). Now, one could argue that injuries boosted that particular record (particularly the Ashes of 2006/07; though it is doubtful that had Vaughan be in charge, England would have lost 5-0).

      Never mind the fact, that Cook started when England were ranked #2. After the difficult winter, England were ranked #4. And guess where they are now. Still fourth. If that is transformational, I don’t know how transformational is defined.

      Which may count as “stabilising the ship”, but since we have all witnessed the decline of West Indies (overall), and Sri Lanka (especially away from home; guess where Cook has not captained the Test side?), that is hardly saying much. Pakistan for instance tumbled from #1 to #6 on the back of two bad series results.

      Then again, despite collectively having played 700+ Tests, this is still a “young, inexperienced” side. Zimbabwe, who can hardly muster 100 Test caps between their playing eleven, are a battle-hardened unit then …

      This is tribalistic nonsense from the guy you’re responding to Clive. I have seen it in local (Kenyan) politics too often; the facts be damned, and we just come up with any kind of incoherent narrative to suit our particular tribalistic egos and purposes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • amit garg February 8, 2017 / 9:08 am

        Nasser was, in my opinion, the architect of a new era for England cricket.
        They learnt to play tough cricket. But, how many people bother doing their homework these days? Keep repeating a lie long enough and some people will certainly start believing it.
        One can make any outrageous claim and still get away. Just take one look at Trump across the ocean.
        And, in a short while, you will be told it was your fault all along.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 9:42 am

          Nasser is my biggest disappointment. He really is. I don’t know how it happened but he went all Channel 9 on us. Sad.

          Like

    • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 11:36 am

      What an utter moron. Wouldn’t waste me breath on him. They don’t think tho do they. Vaughan not a good captain? It’s like re-writing history to suit their petty little brains – that’s of course if they have any brains, which I doubt. Cook is a self-absorbed out of touch with himself non-captain. Did you see how some of the usual suspects are saying that Cook was a good cricketer? Oh yes that seems to have gone under the radar a bit. Pringle said it for one. Hmm.

      Like

  30. BoredInAustria February 8, 2017 / 6:12 am

    For Clive.
    The art of staring vaguely into the semi-distance from the Debenhams catalogue.
    Enjoy.

    PS – And our sensitive narcistic little flower was actually the unfairly treated victim in the KP affair…. No mention that he was just too happy to shift the blame and hold on to his lovely job and salary…with a moral compas from the Tony Blair school:”…that seemed the right thing to do at the time….”

    Liked by 4 people

    • amit garg February 8, 2017 / 8:44 am

      He owes a big chunk of his captaincy to being a compliant doormat – I hope he realises this. Did he have balls to put his foot down and oppose that decision? He could’ve refused to captain a side without its best team. That’s where his personal ambition came above righteousness. I can’t grudge him his ambition, but the self serving, myopic view of the situation as it was at the time, clearly puts him (and his actions) in a different light.

      Liked by 2 people

    • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 11:38 am

      He seems somewhat distracted. Should sack him for that. It’s a cardinal sin don’t yer know. Oh wait a minute….

      Like

    • Clivejw February 8, 2017 / 12:10 pm

      Oh my, that chin. Makes you want to take a large spade to it.

      Like

    • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 7:57 am

      And people think we’re “proper weird” for disliking him. Remarkable.

      Like

    • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 11:40 am

      It’s a shame they didn’t hang him out to dry after Australia!!! But then of course Cook was from the right sort of background with the right sort family, yawn yawn.

      Like

  31. nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 8:18 am

    Heh heh, look which article the Guardian sidebar is linking to here….

    The absolute peak of BTL, imho.

    Like

  32. oreston February 8, 2017 / 8:46 am

    Sorry, WHO got hung out to dry? My heart bleeds for the poor little lambikins. And isn’t it telling that he feels secure enough to criticise his employers while signalling his intent to remain in the team for the next five years?

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 9:01 am

      Still absolutely nothing from his lips as to why KP was sacked. Why he thought he had to go. Why his conduct was so awful he couldn’t lead a team with KP in it. Why this had to happen.

      Yet, as you say, poor ickle Cooky, so resolute but yet so vulnerable, was the one left hanging out to dry. He isn’t on “social media” but he knows how bad it was for him. Has a journo taken one minute to stop and actually think “this doesn’t add up”?

      Don’t answer that.

      Liked by 3 people

      • SimonH February 8, 2017 / 9:38 am

        “Still absolutely nothing from his lips as to why KP was sacked”.

        You mean “I’ve tried, whether I got it right or wrong, to do what was the best for English cricket at that time” isn’t enough of an explanation? If Hussain was any sort of a journalist, as opposed to the chief pom-pom girl he’s become, he would have asked some follow-up questions about that.

        I was going to make the point about the missed opportunity to show a little empathy for Pietersen but I see the point has already been made. I’d like to think he decided it would look a little hypocritical or there was some other considered reason – but I agree that he gives every impression that the concept that Pietersen might have had some feelings has just never occurred to him. It was the same with Strauss and the fake Twitter account by the way.

        Also from yesterday’s presser when Cook was asked about if he felt responsible for the team stagnating –

        “One hundred per cent. That’s part of the parcel of being captain. You are responsible. With the coaches – it’s not a one-man thing – but ultimately the captain is part of that”.

        So, not exactly 100% then.

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 9:50 am

        It’s a very common thing isn’t it, though, the empathy deficit?

        Selvey, passim. Dave Kidd today. electronicmath BTL yesterday, who could not conceive that Pietersen’s #bringbackKP might be tongue-in-cheek given what happened in 2015. Morons on social media. The Twitter account, notably the Agnew v Jessica Taylor episode. Reviews of his book.

        It’s always been a major factor for me, because they repeatedly invoke ickle Cooky and his sensitivity while shamelessly trashing the personality of someone of similar on-field stature. And then they explain away the growing schism by referring to Pietersen “winning the PR war”. PR had absolutely fuck-all to do with it. Some intelligent people just think it stinks.

        Liked by 3 people

  33. nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 9:07 am

    Meanwhile, someone still hasn’t got his head round those number thingies and what they patently show about Asia v the rest, even though he was more than happy to criticise someone else for slipping from 50 to 44 in the second half of his career…

    Click for the entire conversation.

    Like

  34. SimonH February 8, 2017 / 9:52 am

    Add Newman’s comment recently about management wanting to keep the Test and ODI captaincies separate, and I think we may be seeing a trend here –

    Like

    • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 10:15 am

      It’s bad. Really *really* bad.

      Like

      • northernlight71 February 8, 2017 / 12:43 pm

        I’m enjoying it so far. Though there are jobs that need to be done today . . .
        Is it just me or has the average IQ of those who would applaud everything ECB and damn everything about KP gone down? Their posts and arguments are becoming so easy to deconstruct. It’s almost not fun anymore.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 1:04 pm

          Alastair Cook has made 5 test centuries in his last 90 test innings.

          That’s not Cook Maths. It’s a long-term indicator of his test form. His preceding 163 test innings produced 25 test centuries. KP was always accused of being inconsistent. Cook never gets that, does he? Newman said KP was a fading figure, but Cook is expected (not saying it won’t happen) to bounce back. What, now he’s not leading from the front, that was supposedly his strength but post-2012 was, by and large, not backed up by the data?

          Joe Root is often castigated for not going on to get the big score once he has passed 50. Alastair Cook, in that 90 innings spell, passed 50 on no less than 29 occasions (including the 5 x 100). I’m clearly remembering all the calls of not going on attributed to Cook. In 87 innings played in the same span as Cook’s above, Root has 10 test hundreds and 25 50s. Almost double the conversion rate.

          Let’s look at his last 5 years of averages.

          2012 – 48.03
          2013 – 33.92
          2014 – 32.50 (note no discernible difference pre- and post- KP sacking)
          2015 – 54.56
          2016 – 42.33

          One of those last four years looks like an outlier, doesn’t it?

          He’s chasing Sachin. It was well documented that Sachin was over the hill and far away when he retired. But as a sample in his last four years of test cricket, he played 73 innings and made, wait for it, 10 centuries, and had an average of 52. I’m just saying…..

          Facts. That’s all. How they are interpreted, or not, is up to the scribes who choose to comment. Just a couple of little pointers though, eh?

          Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 1:30 pm

            Just for giggles – Andrew Strauss in his last 90 test innings? 10 test centuries. Average of 40 (lower than Cook’s). Interesting what makes great and what makes “someone’s race has run”.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 1:48 pm

            Let’s look at KP’s last 5 full years in the England team.

            2009 – 47.50
            2010 – 41.55
            2011 – 73.10
            2012 – 43.87
            2103 – 36.09

            Fading maybe, but his worst year, his last, was still better than either 2013 or 2014 were for Cook. He had 7 centuries in his last 90 test innings. Even fading as he supposedly was, he still managed more than a skipper “leading from the front”. He averaged a truly dreadful 44 during that appalling spell.

            Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 12:53 pm

        “Is that you Piers?”

        To be fair, a lot of stalwarts are bored with it. As am I really. But a free pass for those comments would be a(nother) joke.

        Like

    • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 11:04 am

      Feisty BTL already. clivejw has excelled himself.

      Like

    • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 12:08 pm

      “Betrayal? Cook wasn’t the one the one texting the opposition about how to get ‘team-mates’ out.”

      Yes, someone’s gone *there*.

      Like

    • d'Arthez February 8, 2017 / 12:09 pm

      “He orchestrated a graceful resignation, on his own terms, in his own time, and without controversy.”

      Obviously, that has nothing to do with the cricket media being utterly spineless since 2012, and being perfectly content with a 5-0 whitewash in Australia in 2013. Previous captains got far more criticism from the press for better results.

      “I have made every decision, whether it be having a third or fourth slip or picking a certain player, thinking that it was the right thing to do at the time,” he said.”

      Funny, how it always appears that Anderson, Broad and Swann were setting their own fields. Also, if the captain is picking the team, what does that say about the need of face-fittingness? Is that perhaps the reason that England still don’t have a frontline spinner, simply because Cook is too incompetent to know how to handle one? Or how to set fields for one?

      “”“Obviously I was part of the team that made that decision. And the decision was what we thought was the best for English cricket. But the fallout was not very good for English cricket.””
      Obviously, it is too much to ask for leadership being aware that decisions have consequences. That was yet another fine act of leadership, from Cook and his superiors.

      “”It was not great to see and be part of it when it was all over the front and back pages and social media like it was.””
      So, Alastair, make up your mind: Are you on social media or not? Do you read newspapers or not?

      “Cook copped more than his fair share of the criticism over it.”
      Umm, if you are in leadership, you cop criticism for decisions you make. The good, the bad and the atrocious decisions. If you deliberately put yourself in the position as the guy who makes decisions, who leads the team, you have to take the good with the bad. After all, it is one of the reasons you get paid about 300k a year extra. Quelle horreur!

      “Asked for his favourite moments, he mentioned the Ashes series in 2013 and especially 2015, “when no one gave us a chance”, but then settled on the third Test against India at the Rose Bowl in 2014.”

      Everyone (barring Glenn McGrath) had England as favorites in the 2015 Ashes in England. And I thought you read the media to actually know that? Make up your mind Alastair: do you read the media or not?

      ““That was a special moment for me that kept me in the job. It showed that the general cricket public actually wanted me to carry on and that was very special.””
      The general cricket public? How representative is the crowd at any international venue in England for that, since you basically have to sell a kidney to attend a game, if you don’t want to die of starvation or dehydration.
      Not as bad as Swann’s 20 quid comment (and it is not fair to criticise Cook for this comment itself; cricket players have other things to worry about, especially since this is stuff that the ECB should look after), but still.

      “There are worse ways to go. Two of his recent predecessors, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, broke down in tears during their final press conferences, having been driven into depression during their final few months in the job.”

      Part of that was because Vaughan was severely injured, was not contributing with the bat, and had been trashed by South Africa in 2008. He would play just 5 more games for Yorkshire (5 matches, HS 43, average 21.0) after that, injury curtailing his career short.

      “Two more, Andrew Flintoff and Pietersen, left the team in a wreck behind them. ”
      That was because of an ECB leak, when Pietersen’s confidential emails were leaked by them. Hence he was forced to resign, not on the basis of what happened on the field but as a result of internal machinations at the ECB.

      “And another, Andrew Strauss, had his retirement overshadowed by the row with his star batsman.”
      Yes. And we all know that mocking your star batsman, providing inside information is not a cardinal offense – notice the wording of Broad’s statement on the matter. The row was a result of bad leadership, cliques in the dressing room etc. Hardly great leadership.

      “Cook, so often accused of leaving his declarations too late, seems to have timed this one just right.”
      If 3 years late is “about right” …, leaving a new captain two of the

      “It was as unfussy as his batting and as honest as the man.”
      Well, you can argue that dishonesty requires a little bit of self-awareness, and intelligence. You can also argue that honesty does not require much in terms of professional integrity, sportsmanship and the like. And that honesty and self-absorption / egotism can go hand in hand to some extent …

      Liked by 4 people

  35. Mark February 8, 2017 / 10:30 am

    A glorious sunny morning in olde England, and the cricket media are revealing once and for all what a bunch of dishonest, sanctimonious, two faced c**** they really are. No holding back, no need to hide their bias. They can let the full hate out of their system. Go on guys, show the world what a bunch of lying bastards you all are. Don’t hold anything back. Reveal the inner c*** of the English cricket media. A profession on a par with prostitution , but without the integrity.

    And in doing so…….

    proving we were right all along. Oh Happy days……….

    Like

    • d'Arthez February 8, 2017 / 10:56 am

      Mark: Actual c**** are objecting to being compared to the English cricket media.

      The other thing that should be noted is that while Cook definitely suffers from an empathy gap, half a dozen of paid professionals have been empathising with Cook for years, while at the same time happily engaging in character assassination (with one or two exceptions) of Pietersen as well. As if Pietersen is not human, or worthy of basic human courtesy. So that empathy gap is not limited to just one person; it includes a dozen of ECB hagiographers as well.

      And for some of the criticism that Cook has copped BTL, well? Has Pietersen not suffered the same (but worse, as it is officially sanctioned by Mike Selvey et al., given all the idiotic moderation at times, particularly at the Guardian)? But apparently it is not criticism or abuse when factually incoherent and incorrect stuff gets written by posters when it is NOT about Cook.

      Apparently it is highly professional when your employer can’t even bother to spell your name correctly to commemorate a landmark. Or has John Etheridge finally offered some explanation on that one?

      So, in effect, the English main stream cricket media have become a bunch of hooligans who can string a few sentences together. It is even worse: at least hooligans have to pay for entry and are deemed liable for the damages they cause. These so-called journalists are angling for OBEs for the damages they have caused to professional players, as well as cricket in the UK at large.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 11:00 am

      Newman said, and it is quoted below I think:

      That show of support was necessary, of course, because of the furore that greeted the decision made by Cook, Andy Flower and Paul Downton to sack Pietersen, by then a fading, divisive presence.

      A fading (let’s leave divisive to the goons) presence. Alastair Cook’s 2016 average against some quite friendly bowling at times last year was in the low to mid 40s. The previous year it was in the 50s, which was about the only really good year in the last four. Alastair Cook is 32.

      Kevin Pietersen was sacked when he was 33. On the back of two Ashes series. Where he faded so badly he outscored the captain.

      But no questions Cook might be “fading”. No questions that he thinks he can play until he is 38.

      Newman’s piece is by no means the worst I’ve read. But they can’t even see the inconsistencies in their own arguments?

      Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg February 8, 2017 / 11:41 am

        England have produced more openers as captains that have played 50 games (as captains) or more and Cook has indeed done better than all of them.

        However, in the decade and bit that Cook has been an English international, his performances have been steady at best. His average has only touched 50 once (I repeat, once) since Dec 2006.
        That’s 10 years and counting. In an era, marked by higher averages and lower bowling standards than earlier.

        As an opener, he’s had the maximum time available to bat and yet no one seems to point out that he’s not even been the best opener around in the last 15-20 years let alone skipper.

        Most critics of the above argument will point to some period of stress since taking over as captain.
        I am inclined to cut them some slack even if his averages haven’t really changed much.

        Sure, there was some stress induced by the public criticism on the KP issue and yes, there has been criticism of his limited captaincy. Whether it was deserved or in excess can be debated but should it have mattered? His performances have been

        One only has to look at another South African (Smith) to know the real difference in class.
        Smith played over 100 games as captain and took over in a really tumultuous time, when he had not even established himself properly in the team as a batsman.
        He led a country with a populace so fractured given their sports history, and having to work through integration issues of a different kind that the stress must have been immense. And yet, he didn’t let his standards drop.

        Cook might have showcased certain attributes in his career, but runs in his career are largely going to be a function of the team he plays for and the support he’s had from the official machinery. England plays more often – else there’s no reason for him to have played more games than someone like Gavaskar, who played for a longer period. He may have made more runs as an opener than anyone else but his averages are not really going to make him a great.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clivejw February 8, 2017 / 12:41 pm

        I’ve mentioned before that I think Cook’s eyes may be going. He is getting bowled much more often than in the past, when he was hardly ever dismissed in this way. I think we could see a rapid deterioration (I don’t wish for it, as I wouldn’t wish physical decay on anyone, but it is a possibility). If that does happen, I hope he won’t be allowed to go on for two years with poor returns again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 1:07 pm

        Jeez, clive, have you seen TheUtican’s response to you BTL…..? Here’s an excerpt:

        “You also reduce sport to a morality drama about personalities. My *judgment* on you is that this is an immature perspective for a grown man to have. And a destructive one for the climate of public discourse in this country, around cricket and other matters. Your violent, personality-based, evidence-free diatribes against the person you imagine Cook to be aren’t on the side of the angels. They are part of a recently developed climate of hatred and vilification, fuelled by social media, to which Trump also belongs.”

        Like

      • nonoxcol February 8, 2017 / 1:24 pm

        Same commenter a bit further up, re Moores 2009:

        “Now that was poor from whoever leaked it from the ECB. Should definitely have stayed in house.
        The fact that it leaked showed how unpopular he was.”

        Have to say that’s a new one!

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez February 8, 2017 / 1:37 pm

        I know Clive can take care of himself, and he is used to those attempts at his character. But the comment of theUtican hints at the utter decay of public spaces, to the point that the only public space that these people are happy with are solipsist spaces. Good luck with civil discourse then.

        Just printing and repeating falsehoods ad infinitum above the line time and again had nothing to do with the rise of Trump et al. Of course not.
        Willingly, knowingly, and unashamedly ignoring the realities of people’s lived lives time and again had nothing to do, with the rise of Trump et al. Of course not.
        That the powers that be could not be bothered to give a rat’s ass about common people, and their daily struggles apparently did not matter one iota. Of course not.
        The moral bankruptcy of the political class / officers corps at the ECB and the (cricket) press preceded all that. But that does not matter. Of course not.

        I mean, how many falsehood and outright lies, not to mention distortions, attempted character assassinations have we already seen above the line and below the line with regards to Pietersen? Millions of them.

        Not that theUtican can’t be bothered to get even basic causality right. After all the ECB just stooges argue that a book published in October 2014, made a decision taken in February 2014 inevitable.

        But rather than blaming the idiots who caused this, theUtican prefers to blame the people who suffer the adverse consequences as a result of this willful mismanagement by the powers that be, and the people who are supposedly keep them in check (the fourth estate). And there are many people like that on the Guardian these days.

        That kind of nonsense reminds me why I am better off not registering at the Guardian and the like. Ignorance and stupidity are a part of life, and people can improve on their ignorance, and to a lesser extent on stupidity (one can learn). But willful stupidity? Those people do not want to learn, and just want to be happy in the conviction that their prejudices constitute reality. Better not to waste any time on such people.

        Thank god for places like this blog.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Zephirine February 8, 2017 / 2:55 pm

        The Utican’s on a roll today, lecturing everyone in similar vein. Apparently s/he’s been made Thread Prefect, who knew?

        Best ignored.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark February 8, 2017 / 3:00 pm

        “The fact that it leaked showed how unpopular he was.”

        HA HA HA

        Well, at least an admission they do leak now. The new approach is that it must be your fault if they leaked against you. ……Paging Rashid, paging Rashid.

        Isn’t it funny how the Cook Resignation didn’t leak? Complete news blackout. But I bet some journos were tipped off. I bet they knew, but kept quiet.

        Like

      • Sri Grins February 8, 2017 / 3:30 pm

        @NOC isn’t it obvious? If data on a person is leaked by his employers, it is because he is an unpopular, divisive ineffective employee. If it is not leaked, obviously the employee is one who plays with a straight bat and is a top bloke. :-):-):-)

        The guardian comment threads were a laugh riot on the article by Bull.

        I would highly recommend Inspector Vijay’s observation though. I agree with him that we often confuse the assessment of a person based on his/her sporting skills which often are of no relevance in making a character assessment.

        Liked by 3 people

  36. Zephirine February 8, 2017 / 11:19 am

    I’m waiting for the days (they may be far ahead) when we hear from the – was it 8 or 9? – gifted batsmen who, mysteriously in many cases, turned out to be not good enough to bat with Cook. I’d love some insights into that particular experience.

    Normally, when somebody dumps 8 partners in swift succession, questions would be asked about their ability to work in a team. The assumption wouldn’t necessarily be that their genius was such that none of the 8 could survive with them.

    Imagine, for example, if Kevin Pietersen had been captain and opening bat and kept getting rid of his batting partners….

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Mark February 8, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    Some real belters coming out now

    ” the fans saved my job.” …….Keeping the knuckle draggers on side there, and sticking it to his loyal employers.

    ” you can’t captain at 95%.” ………But would anyone notice the difference?

    Every time he speaks he just reveals that Selveys judgememt of what constitutes a ” good bloke” is about as accurate as a drunk pissing in a pot.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Henry Splinterbottom February 8, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Just checking ….. is there anyone here who likes Kevin Pietersen and thinks he was royally stuffed by the ECB twats … but crucially …. likes Alastair Cook and thinks he too was royally stuffed by the ECB twats? Or should I seek out another blog?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alec February 8, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      I kind of agree with you. I’ll never be a fan of Cook the captain but he was shoved front and centre by the ECB, none of whom had the cojones to put their heads above the parapet. The closest we got was Giles Clarke’s cringe inducing “right kind of family” comment that only poured petrol onto what was already a raging inferno. It was one of those situations where everyone was wrong and yet everyone had entrenched themselves so thoroughly that by the end there was no chance of anyone walking back what had happened.

      Yes, Cook could have done things differently and yes, the team went backwards somewhat under his leadership but how much that was down to him and how much down to the fact that the team lost the bulk of its best batting line-up in a generation along with arguably its best spin bowler in 50+ years in very short order will probably always be up for debate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 8, 2017 / 3:44 pm

        They thought they could dump a major part of that batting line up, namely KP, and blame him for a 5-0 Ashes thrashing. The same batsman who had topped the averages in that series. (An Ashes that was part of a back to back Ashes series that when announced some in the pundit class said we would win 10-0)

        Your point about the loss of Swann is a fair one. However, it only makes the decsion to dump their best batsman at the same time complete idiocy.

        I think it was all a bit to easy for the captain to go along with dumping on this one person as a cover for his own faults. It was shameless, and they were so arrogant they thought they could pull it off without any one noticing or calling them out on it. And when people did call them out they treated them like shit. They refused to explain why, and mumbled some promise about telling us a few months later.

        When the dossier was leaked it revealed an entire agenda to get rid of this one player, and yet we were still not told why a dossier had to be created. We still haven’t been told.

        When it became clear that a number of people were not happy with the outcome the media and the ECB ran a dishonest campaign to demonise those who objected, by wrapping themselves up in the flag and telling us the captain was some sort of superman. If the captain felt he was hung out to dry, he should have resigned at the time. It smacks of crocodile tears now.

        Liked by 4 people

      • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 3:47 pm

        Well said Mark couldn’t agree more. Exactly he should have resigned immediately but he didn’t and thereby hangs a tale of which we may never see any real truth.

        Like

    • RufusSG February 8, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Checking in. Got time for a swift half?

      In case there’s doubt, I’ve never really warmed to Cook as such personally: his conduct has by no means been flawless (the “so-called friend” incident, and the Warne confrontation, was somewhat petty) and he’s always felt a bit distant in his public presentation. But I’ve never exactly felt contempt towards him either. Just sort of “meh” but with a level of respect for the good stuff he’s achieved.

      Some journalists who should know better write puff pieces about how marvellous he is that ignore his weaknesses? I couldn’t honestly give a shit what they say, I can think for myself and neither feel especially warm or angry towards him. He’s scored a lot of runs, that’s good enough for me.

      The same journalists attack Pietersen hypocritically? Whatever, I still like him. They’re both flawed characters who have plenty of achievement to point to in the face of their critics, and it turns out the ECB are just as happy to cowardly use both men as means to their own ends as the other.

      Like

    • Zephirine February 8, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Henry, you’ll see that most of the anger here re Cook is really about the way the press have treated him – which is obviously linked with the ECB decision to make him the face of the brand and market him as Mr Wonderful.

      Personally, I think Pietersen and Cook are both pretty weird, in quite interesting ways. I think Andy Flower is very weird indeed, in a less interesting way. And the England management are just crap, and petty with it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      KP was certainly well and truly stuffed by the ECB & Alastair Cook. Cook failed the Ashes Test & ECB had to have a scapegoat. Alastair Cook is so self-absorbed that he wouldn’t recognise anyone going through hell and back even if he fell over them in the road. Look at what he’s saying now? All about him. Still thinks he was stuffed up for being sacked from ODI’s captaincy. I mean how out of touch can you be? Then of course AC was tight-lipped about his part in KPs sacking telling us all everything would be revealed but it never was, until now. Must have told a lot of porkies to a great many people in the media. Day before last Aggers told P.Morgan he was “deluded” to say that AC had a hand in KPs sacking and then later on in the day AC admits he was involved. Aggers looking like a complete numpty now. Everyone lied and cheated. Now all the players are being oh so nice about AC’s captaincy. Why? Well they all know they won’t get a seat at the table of ECB’s choice for team if they don’t. The players who did tell the story about how KP was treated by ECB & Cook & others were deleted from ever playing for England again. You either live with the excesses of the ECB and play or you buck the system and ensure you never play for England again. The ECB is a dinosaur which needs to become extinct.

      Liked by 2 people

      • RufusSG February 8, 2017 / 3:27 pm

        If you are indeed asserting that to complain about treatment by the English management is being “self-absorbed” and making it “all about him”, then I’m afraid I shall have to engage you in a good old game of whataboutery.

        (I’m not saying Cook was completely right – I disagree with him, although I’m unsurprised at his frustration. Or that Pietersen was totally wrong either. But it’s hardly narcissistic.)

        Like

      • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 3:33 pm

        Couldn’t write to you directly as it doesn’t allow me to RefussG. Cook was used by the ECB but he didn’t see it. To say now that the ECB were rotten to him is a bit late in the day. Have you seen what he has said himself? It is full of I, I, I, and me, me me. What they had done to him was put him on pedestal with which he couldn’t cope.Cook didn’t have the bottle to say “no”. He got all the media clamour about him being the best captain and all the praise whilst KP got all the kicking – some of which he deserved. Only now he says that the KP sacking could have been done better? Why didn’t he say or do something at the time? He was blind to the shenanigans of the ECB and blind to his own inability to captain England. If you think that is whataboutery then go ahead. I say it as I see it.

        Like

      • RufusSG February 8, 2017 / 3:45 pm

        That’s a fair response. I have read what he said, and I agree Cook could have probably done more at the time, since he undeniably had some input in the decision even if he wasn’t the prime force behind it, and was clearly scapegoated for it by the ECB. He should have taken more of an initiative if he really agreed Pietersen was being unfairly treated.

        What I don’t think is that he’s only saying it now because he’s arrogant and narcissistic. Maybe it is naivety to a point, like you say. Maybe he only feels empowered enough to speak out now, with less to lose no longer being captain, because he felt he had to watch his back in the aftermath, which working for an organisation as shithouse, shifty and spineless as the ECB I wouldn’t blame him for doing.

        I’m not saying he handled it perfectly by any means. I just don’t think it was out of pure ego and arrogance. Pietersen got absolutely hammered, of course unfairly in my view, for complaining about his own treatment when it clearly wasn’t great and had all the usual stuff about ego thrown at him. Of course more of the flak at Pietersen came from the media, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

        Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 3:55 pm

        I agree with that RufussG. I think he can say it now. If he had said anything like this as captain he would have been out on his ear and no mistake. I don’t think he’s nasty but I do think he is gullible. I also think he was egged on a lot by Gooch (when in Australia) and Flower. I don’t think he could see the proverbial wood for the trees in whom he should have put his trust. Of course KP didn’t act well after he was sacked. Why would anyone think being made a scapegoat for 5 – 0 failure in Oz was something to ignore. The bottom line is that the ECB used Cook and KP. KP saw it but Cook didn’t. Let’s face life here: if everyone around you is saying your the best since slice bread would you believe it? Takes someone very in-tune with themselves to say this is a load of BS. Cook is saying it now though isn’t he? But it is too late to mend the past. Bridges have been well and truly burned. Cook is a damn good batsman and he should have been allowed to be just a batsman. Unless the ECB and its current flock are not sent packing we will probably see this stuff going on and on ad nauseam.

        Like

      • Benny February 8, 2017 / 6:37 pm

        Once, I had a debate with my boss over a bad decision. I asked him “if your boss instructed you to carry out something you thought was wrong, would you do so?” He replied “l would make my point strongly and, if still told to go ahead, I would.” I said “that’s where we differ” but I was regarded as a bit of a KP myself.

        Point is that Cook, as an employee who valued his position, would have had to follow company policy, whether he agreed with it or not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 7:48 pm

        Good one Benny. Getting rid of KP in the way they did – as me Lord put it so well – made Cook look very very weak indeed. Cook couldn’t deal with KP and Flower hated him, so KP has to go because the poor wee things were too ineffectual. As Vaughan said at the time he didn’t have any problem with any player. He would always listen to KP or any other player. Brierley had a right lot of mavericks, brought in after Botham’s captaincy failure. Could have made Brearley’s time very dodgy. Did it? No. Brearley understood and listened as well as advised. He brought best out of Botham and Willis and other players.No surprise then that both Botham & Willis said that Brearley was best Captain they ever worked under. Interesting to me that there was a little story tucked away in all the palaver just before Strauss became king pin. There was a meeting of the ECB and Cook and they also asked Mike Brearley to attend to give his advice. Article said: Cook turned up in a limo along with his 4 advisors. Brearley turned up in his very old car on his own. To me that summed up a lot of what is wrong with England Cricket. I still feel the same way after Cook’s announcement. Clearly, the ECB is a dinosaur that needs to become extinct. It ran out of its usefulness under Messrs Clarke, Downton, Whittacker, Flower lead to the worst period in my living and loving cricket memory. Appointing Strauss was a backward step. Need fresh start.

        Like

    • Silk February 8, 2017 / 3:43 pm

      I have no idea what Cook is like. I’ve never met him. No one commenting on him doesn’t have an agenda, so I take with a pinch of salt what they say. He’s certainly polite, and no braggard.

      He’s clearly an excellent batsman, a very professional sportsman and a perfectionist. Everything I want my test players to be. He’s gone through slumps and come back. We’ve had no settled openers since Strauss left and Cook has been a rock throughout. Even when his form waned there was no one stepping up to push him aside.

      His batting in Asia in particular has been incredible, and his relative weakness in England is no weaker than most openers. So at his best he’s great and at his worst he’s at least OK.

      He strikes me as a weak captain, rather than a nasty one, w.r.t. to Prior, Swann and KP.

      But I do think his stubborn streak counts against him as Captain. He couldn’t learn, and should have stepped down (from ODIs and Tests) sooner. I think it’s possible to accuse him of putting his own desires (to remain as ODI captain, and later as Test captain) ahead of the good of the side. But we’ll never know.

      And there will never be an alternative universe in which Cook stepped down as Captain, KP stayed and Anderson (say) was made captain in 2014. So we’ll never know what the alternative looked like.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Silk February 8, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      OH. But he certainly wasn’t stuffed by the ECB. They backed him to the point of ridicule, and got rid of Downton and Moores to protect him.

      They may have over-promoted him. But he wanted the job and got the money and kudos that comes with the job.

      Liked by 1 person

      • emasl February 8, 2017 / 8:01 pm

        I do not think he is arrogant. Cook does not have the intelligence to be arrogant. He is spineless despite his Man of Steel claim. He is also a coward as he kept his mouth shut until now when he has resigned and knows that his job is no longer on the line. I have tried to hard not to despise Cook as for years I admired him enormously. But I am sorry I now feel nothing but contempt for him. This is separate from his cricketing skills and his batting and let us hope that he now gets back to being a good solid opening batsman. Personally, I think he will be poison in the new set up with the new captain, whoever that is, and I do not mean that he will set out to be difficult but just having him there links with a discredited past. He should go now, write (or get a good ghost) to write his second autobiography spin that and then perhaps get a job as a model where you just have to stand and look good. We know he can do that very well but he must remember NOT to Pick His Nose

        OK rant over

        Like

  39. Silk February 8, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    If you want to understand what is happening in the media, re: Cook, right now, look no further than these

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/24/in-david-cameron-britain-has-lost-a-truly-great-prime-minister/

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/07/david-cameron-will-be-seen-one-our-greatest-prime-ministers

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-resigns-resignation-brexit-eu-referendum-result-latest-tributes-a7100061.html

    I doubt Cook will face the same opprobrium (if that’s the word) in 10 years time, but in general people get nice things said about them immediately after they die (or retire) and it takes time for an honest appraisal.

    Like

    • Mark February 8, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      The New Statesman has really gone down the toilet these days. When the NS is parroting exactly the same line as the Telegraph you know the media has become completely controlled by a small corrupt elite.

      Like

      • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 3:09 pm

        Been going down the toilet for years now. Useless rag. There isn’t much difference between some of its articles and that of The Spectator. Can’t get much worse.

        Like

      • RufusSG February 8, 2017 / 3:29 pm

        I have to agree. Both rubbish magazines.

        Liked by 1 person

  40. thebogfather February 8, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    I’ve laughed
    As sheep was sent to slaughter
    I’ve cried (I lie)
    And weep as we all oughta
    For the truth we’ve all known is now reality
    Do nothing, Do-nut Press, so crude, so myopic a mentality
    And as the truth, so Cookie, crumbles
    Mean-spirited, ME, me, me, a meme, not so humble
    All the I doe-eyed narcissism
    Ignorant as he is, creating his own schism
    Each utterance of self-fellating flatulence
    Ripping apart his own credibility by an inability
    To see the wider picture
    Chiselled jaw, no self stricture
    Craptaincy his flaw, now exposed fully
    A self interested bore, stripped, shorn and woolly
    With his, me/myself.I lies of recent days
    He’ll be a disruptive wealth of sighs, everytime he plays
    Sulking in the corner of the playing field
    Looking ‘disinterested’, his true personality, now revealed

    Thank fcuk he can’t whistle….only Alice controls the Sheep 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark February 8, 2017 / 3:55 pm

      Tip of the hat to you sir!

      Liked by 2 people

    • simplyshirah February 8, 2017 / 5:19 pm

      Ahh, you realised. Hope u r well Dad. Good stuff from you as I expect. Tomorrow celebrating day for all of us Outside Cricket. Yay.

      Liked by 1 person

    • emasl February 8, 2017 / 8:03 pm

      is there a vacancy for Poet Laureate coming up? Do apply

      Like

  41. Henry Splinterbottom February 8, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    So for many it’s more a dislike of Cook the media construct? Wish there was a another name for this figure as the guy underneath has always seemed OK, bloody good batsman, tried his best, albeit bit of a company man who I suspect was coralled as a young captain into the whole thing by Flower etc Never seen it as liking one or the other out of him and Peitersen

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 4:03 pm

      Henry, welcome. It’s good to have counter-points and it keeps me honest and makes me look at my own arguments. I do, honestly, try to see the other point of view, and I’ve tried, honestly, to be fair to Cook, but I’ve probably failed along the way. I think the media construct, which I think he does little to stop, is a large deal of the problem. There are many, many “pro-Cook” journalists. Semi-jokingly I’ve called them the Essex Mafia along the way. I’m churlish and grumpy when criticised, so I can’t really have a pop when he is.

      Hope you stick around, sir. The blog is a counter-point to the media deluge, and you may feel angry at some of the stuff on it. But then again, I got angry at being a KP fanboy, a Piers Morgan stooge (hilarious that one, I can’t abide the bloke) and other such brickbats. I liked Pietersen as a batsman. According to the newly reformed Cooky Crew, that makes me a Category A scumbag. That I can’t abide. So I write about it. A lot.

      Cheers sir.

      Like

      • Mark February 8, 2017 / 4:23 pm

        I would just like to point out that Dmitri gave The KP book a very Luke warm review on here. It was probably the most honest of all the reviews of that book in the media. Because he liked KP as a batsman and felt he had been short changed. Yet that didn’t stop him saying he thought the book was average.

        How I wish we had been given such balance from the MSM media. No doubt ‘Cook the novel’ will be heralded as Shakespere when it comes out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus February 8, 2017 / 4:34 pm

          Good memory, Mark. I did. Just read it on HDWLIA.

          “This book is a grave disappointment, and in my view harms him immensely, and I’ve given a lot of thought to it. I don’t think even KP’s staunchest fans could believe this is 100% gospel truth. I know we know that truth isn’t binary, but really. This is joyless, depressing stuff. By allowing himself to go into an enormous full-on, 300 page score-settling exercise may provide some short-term pleasure, but long-term it makes him look small. I know KP does not seem to suffer self-doubt, but this would have been better if he’d made a 400 page book and spaced out his score-settling a bit more, and included some of the more joyous moments. I didn’t like the book mainly for those reasons. It makes him come across as a little unbalanced, a little bit less of a man, despite the provocation he no doubt feels.”

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 8, 2017 / 4:57 pm

        Yup, shame we could not have read such honesty from the cricket media.

        Liked by 1 person

  42. thebogfather February 8, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    Do we all realise that this faux furore, is yet another exemplar ECB fed
    To continence their complete indifference, to us, OUTSIDECRICKET, inbred?
    The Sheep is now shorn, and neutered too, a kerfuffle created by MSM porn
    So, they invite our delight and our scorn, they ply us and play the corporate cuss
    Ensuring the Root will rot, not that they care, accusing us of fuss
    To not decide, too corrupt in knots they deride, hirsute so shaven
    Thus we deride, all, the selfey interested, ignorant ranters, so craven

    Tomorrow, is the true cricket lovers day
    Outside we may be, inside we’ll ever make hay

    So, go, shoot a deer, kill the complicity of ECB/MSM without fear… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Henry Splinterbottom February 8, 2017 / 4:54 pm

    Will keep reading, if only to see where the debate moves to now Cook is Cook the player again

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Maxie Allen February 9, 2017 / 1:09 am

    The problem with the cricket press – as most egregiously illustrated by the Cook-Pietersen affair – is lack of detachment, compounded by laziness and general amateurism.

    The majority of senior correspondents and commentators observe the game from the same perspective as the people they write *about* – not the people they write *for*. They spend their working lives within a very esoteric bubble closely conjoined to the one inhabited by the cricketers and management they’re meant to be scrutinising. The result is that they come to sympathise with the dilemmas and challenges faced by people they warm to – at the cost of proper journalistic objectivity.

    My guess is that Cook is genuinely quite a nice person, in private, and that Pietersen was very difficult and abrasive with journalists. And this has dictated much of the tone of the last three years.

    The problem is grossly exacerbated by the fact that so many of the principal voices in cricket journalism are ex-players – and by extension they empathise with the player, not the supporter. Crucially, in this context, the likes of Agnew, Hughes, Pringle, Selvey, Mark Nicholas, were moderate, workmanlike cricketers, who probably saw themselves as honest triers who made the most of their ability – as has, they believe, Cook. Hence their sympathies lie with him, and certainly not with Pietersen, who to their sensibilities seemed the very opposite – a carpetbagging charlatan and show-off, whose outrageous skill and daring, and brazen, unapologetic appetite for success, offended their sense of decorum.

    I offer none of this as an excuse. Quite the opposite. At the heart of journalism, and TV/radio production, is the ability to judge a story according to what it means to an everyday member of the public, not to an insider, or to themselves as individuals. But few cricket journalists manage to achieve this, which is an abject and inexcusable failure.

    There are other factors at play. The cricket pages – I suspect – are of little journalistic interest to the newspaper’s editor, or the BBC heads of sport, and therefore receive little scrutiny. In general, the ex-players have no journalistic training and go straight from the dressing room to the press box and assume – because no one tells them otherwise – that all the job requires is stating an opinion. From what I hear, most Sky and TMS commentators sound very under-produced. Listening to Graeme Swann, I cannot believe that TMS producer Adam Mountford has ever sat him down to explain the basics of radio, or played his tapes back to critique him. If I’m wrong, I’m happy to be corrected.

    When you add to this the fact that the pundits and players have usually all known each other for most of their lives, and know little to nothing of professional life other than cricket, the result is that to get an analysis of the merits and failures of player x, via TV, radio, or newspapers you get it from – one of their best mates. And a best mate who is essentially an amateur, when it comes to journalism. Hence cricket journalism is reduced to cosy inanity and a suffocating matiness, compromised by personal loyalties and antipathies, in which very few have the imagination, intelligence, nous, or guts, to ask difficult questions or point out inconsistencies.

    A symptom of this is the tendency to accept what management say at face value – trusting what they hear because (a) it’s come from a mate (James Whitaker, Paul Downton), or (b) because they sympathise with the difficulties of running a cricket team or (c) they’re too plain stupid to realise the ECB are dissembling.

    This is frustrating enough on regular cricketing matters, but when such as explosive political issue as Pietersen came along, the total inadequacy and amateurism of the cricket media was brutally exposed.

    Here are two cases in point.

    Jonathan Agnew’s valedictory column on Cook’s captaincy is a quite extraordinary piece of work.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/38554063

    “What is unarguable is that the vitriol that Cook faced on social media from certain individuals in the aftermath of the Pietersen affair was nasty, personal and uncalled for.

    “Views were expressed, most of them by people who do not know Cook. Lots of them were depressing.

    “Indeed, it could be said that he was the first man to serve as England captain in a world that has been fully gripped by social media – though Cook himself has no interest in putting his views out online or anywhere else.

    “At the time, I thought he was getting some very rough treatment over the Pietersen issue and I was happy to say so publicly. Maybe because he saw me as an ally, we have always had a very good working relationship during his time as captain”.

    A piece like this would not be tolerated in any other field of journalist, even in other sports. Can you imagine if, when David Cameron resigned, Laura Kuenssberg responded in a similar vein? If she’d lashed out at people who’s criticised him – especially if it came from those who “did not know him”; if she described him as an “ally”, and generally dismissed the need for any scrutiny of his record because he was a “good bloke”?

    The second example relates to an Essex pre-season press conference given by Alastair Cook on 1st April 2014.

    http://in.reuters.com/article/cricket-england-cook-idINDEEA3100B20140402

    Of Pietersen’s sacking, he said:

    “I know things will become clearer in a little bit of time. I know it is frustrating. It is frustrating for me because I have not totally been able to tell my side of the story. People just have to be a little bit patient.”

    “I understand the reasons why the ECB has decided to stay quiet but it’s frustrating. Things will become clear in a little time now. People just have to be patient.”

    Three years later, our patience has worn rather thin. At his press conference yesterday, Cook had the perfect opportunity to finally to make things “clearer”, “tell [his] side of the story”, and finally explain why he agreed to the decision to sack Pietersen.

    And did any of the journalists at the press conference dare ask him? Did any of them remember what Cook had said in 2014?

    No.

    (I’m sorry this this comment has turned into an essay – apologies for the hijacking, Dmitri!)

    Liked by 4 people

    • nonoxcol February 9, 2017 / 7:33 am

      Well said. I have always held those truths to be self-evident. See also the press’s quite extraordinary relationship with Flower, Andy.

      Like

    • Clivejw February 9, 2017 / 8:01 am

      My guess is that Cook is genuinely quite a nice person, in private, and that Pietersen was very difficult and abrasive with journalists. And this has dictated much of the tone of the last three years.

      Yes, I’ve come to realize that “X is a genuinely decent person” when written by a cricket journalist means no more than “X was very cooperative and gave me an interview, so I didn’t have to make up so much stuff as I usually have to and was able to file my copy after half-an-hour rather than five.” I have a smidgen of sympathy when you think about how humiliating and soul-destroying it must be to have to deal with the likes of Giles Clarke and the ECB machine. But as a character reference, it’s absolutely worthless.

      Like

    • jennyah46 February 9, 2017 / 9:16 am

      Maxie I defer to your knowledge in this field but is there not a difference between a commentator and a journalist?

      Like

      • nonoxcol February 9, 2017 / 9:25 am

        I think Agnew calls himself a journalist (if that’s who you are referring to).

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus February 9, 2017 / 9:31 am

          Judging by a tweet I saw the other night I think The Cricket Paper is lining up no less than 4 tribute articles to Cook.

          I had had light refreshment and responded. Got a bite. I don’t do it for that. Let’s see the journalistic integrity in these pieces. At least I still buy their precious rag.

          To confirm. I do not, in any way, think I’m cool. Jesus wept.

          Like

  45. quebecer February 9, 2017 / 3:24 am

    I think Joe Root might end up being an exceptional captain.

    Obviously, there are a lot of questions about the team, the top three, does Root go back to 4, who bats 5. how to organize the all rounders, and who exactly do we have anywhere on the radar even close to being ready to replace the more often injured/can’t go on forever, Anderson and Broad.

    (Look, you’re all saying everything I would say, we’ve all said most of it before, and I just can’t face the utter silliness of it now because, well, I’m a busy boy and it’s depressing. I can’t get through any of the BTL stuff on the guardian. But thanks to you all for saying everything so I don’t have to. It is appreciated.)

    It’s strange how important Jennings has become. I suppose t’s because if he sticks, it solves so many problems for us and takes away a whole host of other (quite difficult) decisions. But it’s hardly a done deal.

    I don’t think we’ll do badly in the ODI stuff at the beginning of the summer, but I’m very interested to see how we go in the tests, very interested indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. nonoxcol February 9, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Overnight at the Guardian:

    Ali LeChef
    9h ago

    “Hello. I’m a parody account set up last year to mock the way Alastair Cook cannot utter a single sentence without the words “I” and “me” (and also what may be termed the “sportsperson’s ‘you'”, which is also usually a solipsistic substitute for I/me), usually several times. However, after the above interview with Alastair himself, which is quite beyond parody in this respect, I am throwing in the towel.”

    Like

    • Mark February 9, 2017 / 10:31 am

      I’m not clicking the link, but is it by Mark ‘gush’ Nicholas?

      I saw the headline for Gush,s article and walked on by. Sounded way to sugary for me.

      Like

      • SimonH February 9, 2017 / 11:00 am

        A couple of highlights to give you a taster:

        “His sharp wit keeps everyone on their toes”

        That’s a new one! I don’t think even any of the chief cultists had claimed before that Cook was a great wit.

        “Nothing gives him greater pleasure than the family farm. Lambing, moving the sheep by hand, mucking out, working the dogs – this is the life that brings him the oxygen from which he breathes as an England cricketer. “In the end, playing for England means very little if you don’t see the rest of the world around you. I suppose it is why I get so wound up by prima donnas and by arrogance. I like perspective and the farm gives you that. Whatever else, come rain or shine, the farmers meet for a beer at the local on a Friday evening. It signs off the week in a communal way that says we take care of our own.” His two young children will grow up barely knowing the old man worked for more runs in an England shirt than anyone else. Instead, they will see the soil and sweat of the land. “Farming has shaped me,” he says”.

        I don’t think even that bloke who lived in the same village as Cook and wrote for the Independent in 2014 wrote anything quite so nauseating.

        Nicholas is just as capable of writing something gushing about Pietersen tomorrow. He reminds me (pardon the political analogy) of early Blair in that he thinks deep divisions (the schism) can be wished away by a mixture of brainless enthusiasm and simply pretending they don’t exist. It can be a useful quality in some circumstances – but mostly it just becomes hard to tell whether he’s simply not very bright or an extremely cynical opportunist.

        Like

      • Clivejw February 9, 2017 / 11:16 am

        Well, I’m glad Mark Nicholas is (apparently) feeling better after his recent illness. Going to pass on the article, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 9, 2017 / 11:18 am

        If the job title for English captain is comedian, with a love of farming then Cooks your man. Apparently, I cant see it myself.

        They have to keep using all this poly filler because they haven’t got anything else they can say about his captaincy skills.

        Um, ah um An Englishman, an um Irishman. Um ah um ah and a Scotsman um ah um go into a um um um um what you call it um a pub, yes a pub and um um ah The Englishman……

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 9, 2017 / 11:57 am

        Also from the Nicholas article:

        “He believes that the game today is the equal of, or has improved upon, any other era in its history – an argument over which he cannot be swayed. Lillee and Thomson? Pah! Marshall and Garner? Huh! Try Johnson and Harris, or Steyn and Morkel. It is one of the few points over which he and his long-time friend and mentor, Graham Gooch, vehemently disagree.”

        How can I put this politely?

        Team Goochie.

        I’ll leave it there, because the alternative is a nuclear rant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez February 9, 2017 / 2:14 pm

        “Try Steyn and Morkel.” And pray tell, how many Tests do those three have in common?

        All of 9 Tests out of a 140 Test career. And exactly 1 of those were as England captain (Cook contributed all of 7 runs across those two innings). Shall I look up some of the figures for Atherton and some of the world class bowling he had to face? 13 involving Atherton, Warne and McGrath. Easy pickings, I imagine.

        If you’re looking for the combo Atherton, Warne, Gillespie and McGrath, that featured in 9 Tests for Atherton. Just two Englishmen (Nasser Hussain and Thorpe) averaged more than 40 in those Tests, while Bucher averaged exactly 40 (helped by the 173*).

        And it is not like South Africa did not have a somewhat decent pace attack in the mid-to-late 1990s. Apparently McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and co. were so easy to face. And of course who cannot doubt the superiority of Jason Holder and Gabriel over Ambrose and Walsh? Kumble, Harbhajan at the top of their powers in India were lethal too. Zim had some useful players (you don’t get to win in Pakistan if you don’t), and have seriously regressed since then as well. The only team that has really improved is Bangladesh, and maybe the same can be said for New Zealand (I admit I do not know enough about New Zealand around that time to make a decent judgement about that).

        Cook is just deluded if he seriously thinks that the quality of bowling is higher today than 2 decades ago. But it is all about bigging up his own record – which apparently is a cardinal offense if you’re born in Pietermaritzburg.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez February 9, 2017 / 2:25 pm

        I forgot to include Cook’s ‘excellent’ stats in my previous comments.

        Of all the 27 players who have played in at least 3 of those 9 Tests, Cook’s average 37.50) is 12th best. That includes several bowlers, such as Tahir, Finn, Swann, Anderson, Broad, Steyn, Morkel, Harris and Ntini. In other words not that great.

        Paul Collingwood averaged comfortably higher (45.83, from 4 Tests), than Cook (37.50 from 9 Tests), in Tests where Steyn, Morne Morkel, and Alastair Cook played.

        The only opener Cook outperformed was Strauss (21.50, from 8 Tests). Cook’s average is marginally higher than Jacques Rudolph’s (35.25, just 4 innings for that average though). And in the same Tests, Graeme Smith averaged 67.50, nearly double as what Cook managed.

        Ian Bell averaged 52.61, while Pietersen and Prior also did better than Cook. Swann and Philander each average about 30 in those Tests.

        Again, the stats point out that Cook is not that great against great attacks. As we could have seen in 2012. He did well on Day 1 of the series, but could not even double his run tally in the rest of the series (5 innings, plus the undefeated one from Day 1).

        Liked by 1 person

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