With My Undying, Death Defying, Love For You…. 4th Test, Day 2

Cook Love Letter

Alastair Cook made a test hundred. Against Australia. I’m not sure anything else is really needed, is it?

No. I’m not going to let you off that lightly. I have a bit of the old head cold at the moment so I didn’t watch last night. I’m watching the highlights now to see how it went. I’ve also got the whole of the day’s play on the hard drive so anyone who wants a copy of the hundred, please let me know!

I woke up this morning, having followed the action through broken sleep, to see Alastair Cook had completed a century, England are 192 for 2 chasing 327, and that Root is one more run from entering the conversion zone. I am sure there are many out there who think this has me clenching my fist in rage, anger that Cook has “proved me wrong” and that there is still life in the old opener yet. Anger that I can’t quote the no hundreds in 36 Ashes innings or whatever it is. That I’ve been shown up yet again by the master England batsman. I genuinely didn’t wake up feeling like that. I was genuinely pleased we’d bowled out the Australians for a wholly inadequate score, and that we have got a great base to take on a big first innings lead, put the Aussies under pressure and avoid a whitewash. For me, as it is for Alastair, it is all about the team position. England had a magnificent day.

It started with Tom Curran getting Smith to drag on for 76. That opened the floodgates a little. Marsh M, this winter’s Karun Nair, followed soon after, dragging on. Tim Paine went a bit later, dragging on. We can go on about bowling dry in a negative sense quite a lot but England applied a lot of pressure to a sporting team that have to attack, and the run rate was stagnant for long periods, so they can get impatient and wish to impose their will. It’s in their sporting psyche to do so. England stuck to their guns, took out the tail, kept Shaun from making a big one, and having not taken a wicket on a road yesterday before lunch, we took 10 for just over 200 in the intervening period (checks – 205 runs). That was an outstanding performance of discipline, persistence and a little bit of good fortune that we were probably due.

The good fortune extended to the afternoon and evening sessions. With Starc out and Bird replacing him, the Anderson jibe that the bowling strengths in depth in Australia weren’t all they are made up to be could be being proved right. That Pat Cummins wasn’t right was also a fair result too. No sympathy is given to England when this happens and this should certainly not be reciprocated. The point then is that with advantages like this, with a flat deck, with a lovely outfield, an ailing bowling attack is to cash in. Really good players do that. Alastair Cook, when he pulls his technique together, is a really good player. He cashed in. Joe Root is a really good player, and he’s off to a very decent start. England need them both to cash in for a really big one. As I write this, Cook has passed 50 on the highlights, and it is pointed out that it’s his first 50 of the series. More on this a little later.

Stoneman got a start again, looked decent against the opening bowlers, and then gave it away to Lyon. Vince got a decent start, and was then out LBW when it looked like he nicked it (and he didn’t review). Cook got a piece of fortune on 66 when Smith dropped him off Mitchell Marsh. Cricket is a game of fine lines and fate many times, and you grab this with both hands if you are good enough. Stoneman may be running out of chances, Vince is going to be the man who promises you the world, but will let you down, and Cook is the one who can make you really pay. He scored at a really fluent rate, he looked so much better, with so much more confidence and aura. Chris thinks he’s seen some major technical shift – he can explain – but this was a good, important hundred.

So tomorrow will start with England in a good position but with a lot of work to do. Can Cook make it another double, another big one? Can Root convert? Will Malan carry on his Perth form on a polar opposite wicket? How about YJB? Can Moeen save his tour with the bat. One thinks we might need three or four of these to happen. England need a lot more than a 100 run lead in my view.

So that’s the cricket. We should be pleased if we are England fans. We should relish the chance to stick one to the Australians at their biggest test match. While it is perfectly reasonable to point out the limitations of the attack, the possibility the Aussies have eased off the gas, that the series is a dead rubber, we must also recognise in previous incarnations we haven’t lifted ourselves, players deserted or were injured, and England got whitewashed. So while the article headlined “Nice of you to turn up at last” is harsh, it isn’t entirely fair. But I have to say when I see absolute rot like this tweet, you wonder why I (and others on here) get angry:

He scored the square root of nothing on this tour thus far. He hadn’t scored an Ashes ton since January 2011. So if you weren’t a doubter I would suggest that there’s something amiss in your statistical analysis. This came from nowhere. Instead of enjoying it, this lot, and others had to make a point.

For the haters and naysayers. That’s what we’ve become. You are either with him or against him. If you criticise his performance, his captaincy, his role in the debacle four years ago and its aftermath, may you be slapped down. May you be damned, you haters. May you never speak again, May your view never be aired again. He’s made a hundred now. Shut up.

That’s it. A few days ago Tom Harrison, in an interview covered in detail by George Dobell, basically said there was nothing to see here when it came to this Ashes. That winning in Australia is difficult because of home advantage. That because the money is now taken care of, and we aren’t a national embarrassment at white ball cricket any more, we are in a safe place, a nice place, a place to build upon and make hay when the sun shines. The complacency was immense, as teeth itching as Downton calling the 2013-14 series a “difficult winter”. The media fell asleep at this wheel. Nothing to bother their pretty little heads about, concerned more with what he didn’t say about Stokes than what he did say about how great Tom Harrison was while we lost the main test prize we seem to care about.

An Alastair Cook ton when the series has gone is the cricket pundit equivalent. It’s a wonderful moment for him, to end a barren run, to end a personal nightmare. It’s come in a cause for the team, and they’ll be delighted. It’s lifted the fans out there, who have paid good money to go there and have a great day. It’s been a super day. It doesn’t paper over the cracks. Today the media did what they always did. Always do. Team Alastair. Love letters. Personal feelings. If you have the temerity to disagree you are the haters. You are the naysayers. You have been proved wrong.

And you wonder why we find it hard to support England. Look at a day like today. I woke up feeling pretty pleased for Cook. Now I feel he’s the useful tool again. That’s the current England set up. You might want to come back inside? You aren’t allowed. This is Cook’s world and if you doubt him, you aren’t allowed in. Once again, he’s the lightning rod. Those who hate us, who feel we are disloyal will never understand. Just when you thought the schism was potentially going to be healed, it had to be spoiled. It’s just the way these days. Forget him, it is Cook who divides English cricket down the middle.

Comments on tonight’s play below. If I feel up to it, with this poxy head cold, I might live blog the early exchanges. I quite like watching England bat. Maybe we need to turn down the Twitter feed. Maybe someone should have a word with the person who put that GN tweet up.

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37 thoughts on “With My Undying, Death Defying, Love For You…. 4th Test, Day 2

  1. man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    Sorry, I meant to make this comment here rather than on yesterday’s thread.

    You just feel that at some point the big calls have to be made and the English way tends to be to wait too long. The dropping of Gower was, in my view wrong, but if it helped Gooch get a team that really worked for him then perhaps it was the right call. On the other hand, sending Gooch and Gatting to Australia under Atherton was a misguided attempt to turn the clock back and should have been resisted.

    Sending injured bowlers to Australia in the hope that they will recover is a mistake our selectors keep on making, though. They even did it last winter. When will they ever learn?

    Going on tour without adequate reserves is another unnecessary mistake that keeps being made. There is no reserve batsman. There are no reserve bowlers.

    I heard Swann talking about Root’s captaincy in, shall we say, a nuanced way the other night. The statement that intrigued me was his insistence that “there is no alternative” is an inadequate rationale for giving him the job. Where we was Swann during that difficult winter? Was I dreaming that this was the entire reason for The Deerslayer being captain?

    Also, tempting as it is to proclaim 192/2 as the second coming of Christ, the opposition were in a very similar position. It looks like a tricky pitch for most batsmen if the bowlers aim to dry up the runs. It is not easy to force the pace or attack for either bowlers or batters

    Like

  2. RufusSG December 27, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    I won’t labour this, but I appreciate all the respectful responses to my post on the other thread. Everything duly noted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus December 27, 2017 / 6:48 pm

      Fine by me Rufus.

      It’s tough. I actually would like to just enjoy him making a ton without the baggage being brought with it. But it has to. “How could you ever have doubted him” came out almost immediately. Because he batted like a drain and has had a terrible run against Australia is the answer. Then it’s haters this, naysayers that and it all starts again. Those who don’t see how tiresome this is for us say leave it. Those on the other side who see us as tiresome bores, just want us to admit we are wrong.

      I doubt we’ll ever meet in the middle. I think a unified England base will only be possible when Cook goes. As I said, the most divisive figure in the game, more so than KP who is, in my mind, at this stage, a total irrelevance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • RufusSG December 27, 2017 / 7:04 pm

        Sadly I suspect you’re right. Whenever Cook does eventually pack it in, there’s no denying a lot of this sniping and stuff will die down. Even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye I do get what this blog is all about, ultimately we’re all cricket nerds who just want our sport run competently. When people are saying that the ECB’s conduct of last four years has left them questioning their decades-long enthusiasm for cricket, that’s never a good thing and we should make an effort to understand why. I want as many people to love this game as possible whatever our minor grievances, it needs all the support it can get in the current climate.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus December 27, 2017 / 7:10 pm

          Couldn’t have put it better myself. I have tried to see the other side of the debate, and clearly would like more of them to be with my side of the argument. But genuinely, I try. I wonder if some on the “other side” can say that.

          What gets anyone on my shit list is misrepresenting me to others. We have an idea who reads this, and why they continue to do so. It’s because it is interesting. If it wasn’t we’d be tweeting our posts to all and sundry to highlight them….. 🙂

          Like

  3. man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 3:26 pm

    According to CricViz, Cook scored 24% of his runs in the V, double his normal percentage. He must have made a technical change. Warner also scored heavily in the V

    Like

    • thelegglance December 27, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      I would argue the biggest change he’s made is head position. He’s more upright and vastly more stable at the crease, so he’s not falling over. The rest of it kind of comes from that – and it’s not new either, Cook at his best when he has sorted his technical demons bats exactly this way, and that’s when he scores in the V and sometimes even through the covers.

      He batted beautifully today. Really did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 5:55 pm

        I noticed in the last test that he was not so fidgety and twitchy in his trigger movements at the crease. I will watch to see how still his head his at the delivery stride now – thanks for the pointer

        Like

  4. Mark December 27, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    Former England captain, past his prime scores runs on a road in a meaningless test match against a weakened bowling attack, and certain parts of the pundit class go insane. This is Sport in England in the 21st century. The never ending mission to find……”the best Eva!”

    As usual the media are Cooks worst alies. Reminding everyone why many can’t stand either. But particularly the pundits…..who are liars and frauds, and who operate with appalling double standards. If only they had just let him be normal. By the way, when Cook scores runs they reveal their biggest lie…..that Cook doesn’t care for personal landmarks and puts the team first.

    Bat sponsors can use this meaningless innings to flog a few more old bats, but the truth is this is all irrelevant. It doesn’t change the fact that the Ashes have gone before Christams in an avalanche of one sided cricket. Tom Harrison is fine with that. Some of us don’t think its good enough, and aren’t fobbed off with runs in dead rubbers. In the 1990s the pundit class went out of its way to remind us that England only seemed to win when the test series had gone. I wonder why they changed their principles? No conflict of interest to see here, no sireeee!

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 27, 2017 / 6:05 pm

      Vitu, of course, realises that the test in question wasn’t a dead rubber.

      Like

      • nonoxcol December 27, 2017 / 6:59 pm

        Or that there were non-cricketing reasons to be proud (which are discussed early in the piece that carries that headline).

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        • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 7:49 pm

          Surely Vitu is not just dighing up clickbair, like all the other funky commentators out there? 😲

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          • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 10:15 pm

            From which leadership school did this idea originate? The Aussies must be lapping up this evidence of the splits in the squad apologies for dyslexic dobell checking 😉 dishing up clickbait

            Like

  5. LordCanisLupus December 27, 2017 / 6:11 pm

    Newman. This is a love letter…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5214435/Ashes-fourth-Test-Alastair-Cook-finds-touch.html

    Some quotes:

    That is why the return to form of Cook with a quite magnificent unbeaten hundred here at the MCG was the most significant factor of a day that became a glorious one for England in what has been a sorry series.

    We have lost the Ashes. Quit the glorious day comment.

    But he has always been tougher than he looks and now there was a purpose about Cook and a certainty about his footwork from the start against an Australian attack that had most of its venom drawn by the MCG surface.

    Why does he say this? We all think he’s tough as a batsman. We’ve watched him for 11 years. Toughness has never been an issue. At least he acknowledges it wasn’t the highest tariff difficulty out there. But we know he’s a tough nut, that he’s stubborn, that he has a great temperament, that he likes batting long, that he works hard, that he sweats blood for England, that he leads from the front, by example. YOU’VE TOLD US OFTEN ENOUGH!!!!!!!

    If only Vince had anything like the character of Cook who, like Broad, sums up the adage of form being temporary but class permanent. Only when Smith dropped him off Mitchell Marsh when he had made 66 was Cook ever in trouble.

    Missing the fact you inside edged it when you think it is knocking middle pole out is not having “character”.

    Lord only knows what he will do if he gets a double today.

    Plus this….from Team England…

    It’s a cult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston December 27, 2017 / 10:34 pm

      It is a cult, of course it is. Anyone notice the editing at about the 12 second mark? Cook’s moody, slow motion turn; showcasing the great hero’s noble mien or whatever. What a load of absolute and utter wank. He managed to run 120m more than Jonny. So effing what?

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred December 27, 2017 / 11:13 pm

        Goebbels would be proud of that. Except the scene at the end where he’s recovering, scrunched up in a ball on his knees. Everyone who’s played sport knows when you want to get air back in your lungs, the natural reaction is to scrunch yourself up in a ball and compress your chest cavity and stomach.

        But hey, aside from that congrats to England for a day of cricket! It’s reduced my conviction England will lose this test from 90% to about 50/50.

        England would have been formidable if Cook had been doing this on a regular basis in recent years.

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        • oreston December 27, 2017 / 11:42 pm

          He’s not “scrunched up in a ball.” How could you even think such a thing? That’s actually part of a highly sophisticated yoga breathing technique, known only to a select few extremely advanced practitioners. You’re privileged even to glimpse it…

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  6. Mark December 27, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    It is indeed a cult. Either that or a mental illness.

    Why does Newman claim it was the most significant momemt of the day? Surely it was the bowlers keeping Aus down to well below 400 that was the most significant event. No wonder the Mail keeps having to call in Ollie Holt. Newman is not very good at understanding basic cricket issues.

    Hardly a glorious innings if he was dropped by Smith. How do you teach luck? Who knows.

    And the ECB really don’t like Bairstow do they? Must be so nice to be humiliated on a daily basis with more leaks. Fitness test results. Remember when Newman leaked Bells test results that said he was not captain material?

    This a very weird set up. A crazy cult with a cult leader that must be worshiped. I understand Maxies position more and more.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 27, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      I thought about the Bairstow angle to that clip. I wouldn’t be too chuffed if that’s me against Alastair.

      I mean, what’s the point of it?

      Like

      • Zephirine December 27, 2017 / 7:06 pm

        If I was Bairstow I might just run a wee bit slower and give the bosses the result they so dearly want.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark December 27, 2017 / 7:56 pm

        The point of it is to show that even at 33 Cook is superior to the others.

        It really is a one man team. Cook is England and England is Cook. Which is why the bitterness will never end.

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      • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 10:13 pm

        From which leadership school did this idea originate? The Aussies must be lapping up this evidence of the splits in the squad

        Like

  7. man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    He could also point out that Cook has yet to pass his run aggregate in the series or take as many catches.

    Like

    • oreston December 27, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Now you know better than to bring cricket into it…

      Like

  8. jomesy December 27, 2017 / 7:22 pm

    LCL – did you get the pic?

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      • jomesy December 27, 2017 / 7:42 pm

        Great! That’ll make my day

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  9. Mark December 27, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Even George Dobell has gone to the cult side. Read it and weep of what has become of a once good cricket journalist who now knows he must be obedient to his masters.

    All the Cook themes are checked marked by Dobell.

    1st Cooks refined celebration. No punching the air like that uncouth Warner. A more reserved English clenched fist.

    2nd “It was interesting to see the reaction of the other players.” Oh yes, like any cult we must see how much the cult members are now in awe to the cult leader. Even the Aussies congratulated him. Do Aussies not congratulate batsman who make hundreds? Did they not congratulate Milan? I don’t remember anyone making a big deal out of it.

    3 Significance of innings….. “Nobody should doubt the significance of this innings ” I do. It is a dead rubber on a flat pitch with a weak attack. Completely meaningless. The idea you would draw conclusions from today is idiocy.

    4 Cook back to his best…..”Cook at his best.” Yes, Dobell is claiming this on a road of a pitch in a dead rubber.

    5 State of tour……” most importantly, it came with his side under pressure and the tour in danger of reaching a tipping point. “…….Er no, that tipping point was reached at Perth when the Ashes was lost. Your writing drivel Dobell.

    Finally hidden away at the end of the article he writes…….”It seems churlish to pick holes in such an innings. But it would be disingenuous not to recognise that the Australia attack, sans Starc, is significantly impoverished. Pat Cummins was far from his best, too, as he struggled with illness that reduced his pace and ability to contribute the volume of overs he might have done in normal circumstances.”

    Hmm. why hide it at the end? All this is headlined under a title that says “COOK CAN NOW DETERMINE HIS OWN FUTURE ON HIS OWN TERMS.”

    Really? He gets to select himself? No wonder we aren’t much good away from a green seamer in England under grey skies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 11:25 pm

      If Cook is out for less than 140, will Prick Dobell berate him?

      Like

      • nonoxcol December 27, 2017 / 11:35 pm

        I will watch with interest the reactions if, say, Cook’s is the first dismissal in a collapse from, say, 250-3 to 330ao.

        Like

  10. Narelle December 27, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    I read English papers here in Australia and they are calling Cook a living Treasure. Pleaseeeeeeeee. when will the press let it go and treat him as a team member and not an icon.

    I’m now waiting for Pollyanna Harrison to confirm that everything is perfect with ECB now cook has made his 100.

    I understand your anger and at times rage, but I can relate to it too.

    Like

  11. Riverman21 December 27, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    The line I kept hearing today. Cook has been practising really hard in the nets for the last 7 days and that explains his improvements.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something? So I’m thinking why didn’t he practice that hard at the start of the tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy December 27, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Correct, but remember that’s also “good journalism”. Your question would not be “good journalism”. Orwell pls…

      Like

    • Mark December 27, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      We don’t know if that has made any difference because their attack is much weaker, and the pitch is slow which negates the pace. Has Cook sorted out his problems or is the attack just slower so his faults are not exposed?

      We will not really know.

      Like

    • man in a barrel December 27, 2017 / 9:58 pm

      At the start of the series we were told that the Deerslayer was working really hard in the nets. As we are every series. Presumably his wife hears it regularly too.

      The question is, what are you practising? Practise is only beneficial if you are trying to improve. I think that folks such as Gooch and Cook practise because, if you practise, then you are virtuous and redemption will come. Bad people like KP, who also practise a lot, don’t practise for the sake of virtue. Let them be dropped. People who practise to groove good habits are especially nasty people. Practise has to be done for its own sake. Practise leads to quality and an ever decreasing average.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. nonoxcol December 27, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    39’s Twitter feed is nothing if not predictable today.

    Like

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