Blog Stress

I’m sure many read what Peter wrote earlier, and to be absolutely honest I have nothing whatever to say about that specifically.  That’s not because I don’t care, just the opposite, but it’s because I have far too much respect for him to make any comment on it.  But I will talk about some things generally, and in terms of what we try to do and have tried to do.

Having several of us unquestionably helps.  There are times when you simply don’t feel anything, when you know that if you try and write something it’s going through the motions.  Oddly enough, this is where some sympathy has to rest with the professional journalist – no matter how good they are, there will be days when they effectively phone it in.  But they still need to do it, it’s their job, even if it’s one of those days.  It’s why personally I find it a bit hard to leap on one article from someone who is generally good.  They’ll have some days where they are better than others, and everyone in every role suffers from that, and sportsmen are always a good example, as when they have absolute stinkers it’s rather obvious to a huge number.

But with a blog we can always choose not to write.  Just as if we write drivel people can choose not to read.  But for all of us it’s an unusually stressful hobby some of the time.  Staying  permanently angry isn’t possible (or healthy), and weariness is much the enemy of posting up anything interesting.  

We all feel like it sometimes, and others we feel energised.  Sometimes it’s still terrible of course, and probably the only upside to that is that it really doesn’t matter all that much in the great scheme of things, because most of the time people silently say that to themselves and move on.

I hate writing about the blog itself, it feels dreadfully self indulgent.  But being something of a voice in the wilderness, whether us or the community who read and comment, can get us all down, especially those people who wear their heart on their sleeves.

There’s a game of cricket on, and there are people crowing at some kind of victory, not over Australia, but over fellow followers.  Now above all else, this really does make me scratch my head.  In what way can it be a good thing that people who care passionately about a sport are in despair about it, about the direction their national team has gone and about how the uniformity of reporting and lack of critical thinking have been pushed aside?  That is disastrous whichever side it happened to.

People who buy tickets, who go to games, who live and breathe the damn sport, but who now find it hard to care enough about it because of all that it entails.  The peripheral has become the central.  What kind of win would that be, in a sport that is in some trouble in England, that those closest adherents have had enough, that they can’t put up with the crap any more?   Funny kind of winning.

Many people disagree with many of the posts on here.  Fabulous.  It means they care.  Long live people who care.  Because however anyone feels on a particular subject, there have to be those who hold an alternate view, otherwise what’s the point?

Let’s see how England get on tonight.  And let’s ask how it can ever be that an England success causes English hearts to sink, not because of what happens on the field, but because of the reaction off it.  How on earth does it reach that point?

Comments on day four below

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93 thoughts on “Blog Stress

  1. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) December 28, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    Well said, TLG. Let me stress how much we all appreciate the work the four of you do, as this site is utterly unique. It is indeed a voice in the wildnerness, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, a source of strength and support.

    I’m sorry not to have commented over the last couple of days (work, family, Christmas) but today I decided to vent my spleen on Twitter, perhaps self-indulgently. I just felt I had to take the argument to those who see things very differently. And I was angry and fed-up and had to let off steam!

    Pietersen/Cook is like Brexit – it has made everyone hate each other. It is eternally, insolubly, divisive. And the wounds will never heal.

    Liked by 4 people

    • jennyah46 December 28, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      I’m not sure that in everyone’s eyes it’s about Kevin Pietersen. It will be true oF course for some, but not all.

      Like

  2. jennyah46 December 28, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    Chris, I assume your heart is sinking due to trolls assaulting BOC with gloating, hateful comments. That is awful but it does cut both ways.

    I was awake from around 4am and loved the Cook and Broad highjinks frustrating tbe Australians in the field, no end. Smith’s face was a picture.

    But when play ended and Cook was still there with his massive score and a beautifully played innings my heart sank thinking of the posts that were about to appear when Twitter got to it.

    His failures were justifiably pointed out, but he was rubbished and trashed in every way possible by many who took to it with gusto. Cook cannot control what is written or said about him, but he takes equal flak for it. To my mind, he is more the victim of the divide than the cause.

    It would have been great if he was just allowed to have his day without the vitriol. I have no problem with criticism of his captaincy, his up and down form or his seemingly declining skills. It the wounding personal attacks on him that make my heart sink.

    Like

    • thelegglance December 28, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      No, I don’t especially care what individuals say on either side of any kind of divide. Twitter is a cesspool of intolerance and self divined moral superiority. When it’s the media doing it, it’s different.

      Any individual can say what they like about me. Water off a duck’s back.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 28, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      One point of clarity, Jenny. No it’s not trolls. I don’t count the weapon’s grade pillock that is General Zod as a troll!

      It’s so much else. A lot tangible. A lot intangible. Even Alec Stewart is at it now. What have we become?

      Aggers is comparing him to Federer and Nadal. The Cricket Paper has him being knighted. WTSF is this all about? Malan made a wonderful 140 in the last test and one journo who I like attacked him for not going on, while our senior pro was making 82 runs at 13.66. That was a live rubber.

      Like it or not, this is too late. The runs count the same in the record books, but do they really matter as much? Evidently yes. There I disagree, and can’t get my head around it. So best not try. For to do so will do no good.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) December 28, 2017 / 9:35 pm

        I can’t get my head around it either. It is simply incomprehensible. Did Collingwood get this for his double-ton at Adelaide in 2006? Or Pietersen at the same venue four years later? I simply do not understand the fervour around such a insipid character whose record is so fitful. And I always thought that about him, long before 2014.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus December 28, 2017 / 9:46 pm

          IMHO, this tweet, in itself, (I’ve deleted the bit before, it’s making it too personal) but it’s a line Brian has been putting forward for a few days now and I know I’m one in the crosshairs.

          It’s too comfortable. It’s too easy. It’s too trite. It’s just blind. But it’s what he thinks, it’s what a lot think. I’d say the Cook fans were the one’s who didn’t move on. Who put this into the KP context because this is all they understand. How can you not like him? He’s a hero. It must be KP. It can’t be anything else.

          And I only ever wrote what I believed in, so I am in a vast minority of one I don’t claim, like Brian does here to speak for anyone else. So there you go. A tiny unrepresentative minority. I call them cricket fans too. Who disagree.

          Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 9:58 pm

            And his objective rationale is…..? To be fair, he always talks from his subjective self but…. Maybe he needs to grow up. He makes Vic Marks seem a opinionated obsessive. His different shades all seem like white to me

            Like

          • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) December 28, 2017 / 10:09 pm

            Unbelievable.

            As was this:

            Like

          • Mark December 28, 2017 / 10:24 pm

            Ha ha ha Brian Moore is doing a Selvey,,,.

            ” I know things that I know, that I can’t tell you or who told me.”

            Anyone notice that Brian’s Moores professional awkward sqaud routine is wearing a bit thin these days? He seems to have his nose rammed up the establishments back side.

            Like

        • nonoxcol December 28, 2017 / 10:08 pm

          For my part, I have taken it as a given for 36 years that runs scored while a series is live are of greater value *to the team* than dead rubber runs. That runs scored in live Tests are scored under greater pressure than those made in dead rubbers. Whenever I have thought about Tests, I have always placed greater value on performances in live Tests. Which is a key reason why, for example, Lara’s 153* is light years ahead of his 400* and why – to offer a more obscure example – Robin Smith’s efforts in a losing cause at Bridgetown in 1990 deserve to be remembered longer than his highest Test score in St. John’s four years later. Which is why the notion that this is England’s most valuable overseas innings since Atherton in Johannesburg struck me as thoroughly preposterous as soon as I read it on Twitter this morning, even before I reeled off a dozen that were made in live overseas Tests – including four by Cook himself, FFS – and which helped determine the result of a series, or (in the case of Ahmedabad) transformed its character even though the Test itself was lost.

          In true Private Eye An Apology style, I now realise that I was mistaken, and that this truism has been abandoned overnight and shall be buried forthwith…. at least until someone whose name isn’t Alastair Nathan Cook scores 200+ in a dead rubber when the series is lost, having averaged 14 while it was in the balance, and everyone accuses him of only turning up when it didn’t really matter *to the team*.

          No-one else I have ever seen play for England would have received this level of praise and memory-holing for this performance in this context. A situation where, if you even raise these points, if you sound even slightly begrudging for valid reasons, you are accused of being a churl and a heathen and mocked by Statler and Waldorf. It is ludicrous.

          But I guess that’s what happens when a dam wall finally breaks after seven years, and when certain people have been particularly, nakedly desperate for it to break for the last four years.

          “REDEMPTION FOR COOK! AGAIN!!”

          Liked by 2 people

          • nonoxcol December 28, 2017 / 10:23 pm

            Thanks. I wouldn’t say that, though. I have been admiring your work on Twitter on and off all day. Remarkable energy and persistence.

            I would salute your strength and indefatigability, but I probably need to think of an alternative phrase that doesn’t carry such horrendous connotations.

            Like

          • OscarDaBosca December 28, 2017 / 11:51 pm

            Churl as I have commented before on this blog is an insult that needs to be bought back into popular usage.

            What I loved about the Brian Moore nonsense is when the ‘I know more than you’ argument failed with Maxie he went to that Selfie staple ‘I used to be a professional sportsman and you couldn’t possibly understand’

            I am old enough to remember when pundits and opinion writers weren’t all ex-players. Twitter wasn’t the right medium for me to explain to someone like Brian that you don’t need to have been a professional to understand sport, we the fans / customers / consumers (delete as appropriate) pay to see something we enjoy, we often also play the game as amateurs, and the majority of us have been in situations where we have to perform under pressure with others relying on us. It might not be ‘professional sport’ but don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting that as a sportsperson you have life experiences that I cannot understand or empathise with.
            Pretty sure that Shakespeare was able to write about the whole gamut of human emotions and experience without having experienced being a king, a soldier, a 14 year old girl etc.

            I know that social media amplifies stuff and has seemed to create more polarised opinions (and allowed people to interact in truly vile ways with each other that they never would face to face) but it saddens me that we could potentially lose a great cricket writer because he does it as a hobby and quite frankly doesn’t need the additional nonsense in his life anymore.

            Liked by 3 people

      • Sri. Grins December 29, 2017 / 4:36 am

        FedEx? Nadal? 😀. Cook maybe at best Michael Chang. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol December 29, 2017 / 8:30 am

        To be fair, arguably Stewart’s greatest Test performance came in the fourth Test of a series England had already lost.

        I was at university and don’t remember the press reaction. I’m willing to bet it was slightly more sober than the reaction to Cook yesterday.

        I’m even more willing to bet it didn’t go crazy before the match had been won.

        Like

    • Mark December 28, 2017 / 9:25 pm

      Cook WAS allowed to have his day Jenny……(unlike KP) who was sacked at the first sign of failure.

      The Cook cultists couldn’t just enjoy the moment, they had to gloat. Although I’m still not sure what they are gloating about. He scored a double hundred in a meaningless test match in which the Aussies best bowler is not even playing, and on a flat track. The game hasn’t even finished yet and the want to award him a knighthood. Pardon me if I look on in mild amusement.

      It’s a clown car.

      Like

  3. man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    The irony is that there are so many people jumping on the bandwagon, talking about a great innings without any regard for the context. It is meaningless. The series has been lost. Lost in a humiliating way. A large innings after all this is like being offered a marshmallow after a shit sandwich. Is this so hard for Selfie, Etheridge And Swann to understand?

    Ps I am still awaiting the rest of the account of THAT Adelaide test… As well as many other memories

    Like

    • Mark December 28, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      This is the point MIAB!

      Imagine if Root or Bairstow or Vince had scored these runs in this context. Exactly the same scenario. Does anyone seriously think the reaction of the media would be like this? If you say yes…. you need to book yourslef into the Priory for treatment.

      This is the point the media can’t see, or won’t see. They do not treat Cook like another sportsman, they treat him as a weird God. The funniest tweet of the day was from Selvey asking why people just can’t stand Cook. If he does not know the answer, perhaps he should look in the mirror. If he is honest, he will see the reason staring back at him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 9:54 pm

        It’s probably been said but at the end of the 1974-75 series Denness scored 180 odd against an attack without Lillee and Thomson. No one thought that Christ had been reborn

        Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    If anyone still remembers John Arlott, he loved the county pros, who never played test matches but just loved the crafts of cricket. Maybe Cook is the Phil Mead of our era : no one, not even Arlott reminisced about his artistry. He just stuck at it and scored 156 (?) centuries. And the Hampshire lads loved him. He was the only reliable player in a bunch of amateurs (public school teachers on holiday) and jobbing pros of Mark Ealham talent. But Mead is one of the few players whose test average is higher than their first class average. But, I imagine that stat is being turned around because people like Cook hardly ever play cricket. The comparison with tennis is odd. The top guys play far more often than cricketers at much higher intensity

    Like

  5. Elaine Simpson-Long December 28, 2017 / 9:52 pm

    Waiting for the attacks to start on Joe and comments about him not going on to make hundreds. Waiting for the journos to get their knives out on him. AC has been deified all over again and it makes me feel nauseous. I have not been able to watch this match because I knew what would happen when Cook started scoring runs. I am simply appalled that I have reached the stage where I loathe us winning because I know what will happen afterwards. Cook will be praised, Joe villified, Anderson and Broad will keep their places and others will be thrown out. If I was Joe tonight I would resign as captain, resign from the team and leave the whole vile mess behind.

    Ok I may be overeacting. In fact I know I am, but I am just so fed up with feeling this way and fed up with the people who havre reduced me to it.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus December 28, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Stuart Broad is a more egregious pisstaker in my mind. Cook is Cook. A game, determined, great (yes, I think he is a great) opening batsman struggling with his game and getting it all to click. Broad basically got his head down and said he found some inner belief and lo and behold he bowls better and doesn’t bat like a clown.

      I genuinely, honestly, have no beef with Cook’s innings. I was enjoying it last night. Just doing the live blog, discussing cricket, was fun. Then came the vengeful claptrap.

      Like

      • thelegglance December 28, 2017 / 10:04 pm

        Cook batted beautifully. Really well. He looked more technically sorted than he has done in ages, and he’s obviously been both frustrated and has worked hard to correct his flaws.

        The response to that is straightforward enough – regret he couldn’t have sorted it earlier, but understanding that it’s rather difficult, and praise for a fine knock that may prevent the whitewash.

        Cook in form is a major asset.

        This extraordinary media response is simply moronic.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark December 28, 2017 / 10:16 pm

          But how much is the change down to his work in the nets? ( It didn’t do anything for him in the first three tests)

          Or, and this is my theory……..

          The drop in pace of the Aussie bowlers has made the difference. It’s the same reason Broad was able to hang around with him unlike before Christmas. Broad is not in Cook class as a batsman but he was suddenly able to bat.

          Top level sport is about fractions. That reduction in pace has turned the tide. That is not Cooks fault, but when people like Agnew start talking about, and comparing him to Federer you know they are talking bollocks. If he was really like Federer, he would have scored a hundred at Brisbane and Adelaide.

          Like

          • thelegglance December 28, 2017 / 10:22 pm

            Mmm. I don’t know. Correcting technical problems can sometimes just click. It’s not like he hasn’t been through the same thing before, and I absolutely believe him when he talked about being extremely frustrated it’s taken until now.

            But he was all over the shop against all the bowlers, not just Starc. It was definitely technical, even with the caveat that he’s less proficient against high pace.

            Like

          • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) December 28, 2017 / 10:40 pm

            I’ve watched a fair chunk – but not all – of England’s innings. I think you are both right. He’s certainly looked very efficient, technically, but it’s the perfect pitch for him – it’s almost like an Indian pitch in the slowness, but very true. The Australian bowling has been much less intense than in the previous three tests, and Jackson Bird has been poor.

            Like

          • thelegglance December 28, 2017 / 10:44 pm

            I guess what I’d say is that he looked technically dire in the summer here too. That’s why I’m uncertain that pace explains it. But it’s merely my supposition.

            Like

          • Mark December 28, 2017 / 10:57 pm

            Well, we will see against India in the summer because it looks like we will have him to kick around for a while now.

            Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy December 28, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      No – you’re not wrong. It’s the whole point. There’s an axis…and poor old Joe is going to be on the wrong end of it because AC must be held up, to the very gods, or else.

      Fact. Dog shit stinks.

      Fact. I’m happy to clear up my dog’s mess because he can’t and it’s entirely appropriate that I do.

      This has a stink of a level I cannot comprehend yet there seem to be 1000’s who want to be covered by, -and stink of, that worse smelling shit.

      Sorry – it’s not the most articulate way of expressing my views, but I think it holds.

      (For the Cook lovers out there – Cook isn’t the shit…he might be the bag though).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine December 29, 2017 / 12:11 am

        I’ve got used to the Cook worship, like I’ve got used to lots of people watching Made in Chelsea and the Kardashians and Celebrity Who’s Going to Have Sex Island. I don’t understand it, and I find it somewhat demeans the human race, but it’s a phenomenon.

        What is making me very cross, however, is the number of people who can’t praise Cook without criticising Root. This is a new development and it’s irrelevant, unnecessary and unfair.

        Liked by 2 people

        • metatone December 29, 2017 / 8:05 am

          Hear! Hear!
          I don’t give a stuff about Cook, nice innings… but we’re a long way from winning this Test.
          And you know Root will be in the crosshairs if we don’t..

          Like

  6. man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    Esl, join the club. Whatever you do do not ask about Finn or Wood

    Like

  7. Mark December 28, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    40% to 50% chance of rain today in Melbourne…. so I just read.

    That would be shocking if it rained all day.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 28, 2017 / 10:40 pm

      I remember 1982. I remember BBC carrying, I think, live coverage of the end of the match. I remember that last hour of tense, taut cricket. Thomson and Border. If test cricket got better, it didn’t often.

      A non-sequitur but just to remind people. We love cricket. I mean, we really love cricket.

      Like

      • Elaine Simpson-Long December 28, 2017 / 10:44 pm

        And itmis because I love cricket that I get so worked up about all the crap

        Like

      • Mark December 28, 2017 / 10:54 pm

        Oh yes, I remember that. Wasn’t it Dusty Miller who dropped the catch, but flicked it up and was it Botham who took the catch? 3 needed I think without looking it up.

        I remember a few years ago Thommo was talking about that game and how close they came. He was very funny about it.

        Like

          • Mark December 28, 2017 / 11:05 pm

            Ha ha ha

            I got Miller and Botham albeit in the wrong combination. Yes, of course it was Tavare who dropped the catch. I won’t say what Thommo called him…….

            Like

          • quebecer December 29, 2017 / 2:23 am

            Don’t have much time for Dusty Miller since his administration days began, but you’ve got to love those sweat bands.

            We do sometimes forget what I.T. Botham was.

            Like

  8. LordCanisLupus December 28, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Just a final thought for today.

    Chris has summarised many of the thoughts, but it probably rests with me to elucidate a bit further.

    First, thanks to Chris for the post. I feel a bit badly I didn’t let him know my plans because I think he might have talked me out of it.

    Second, to all those who wrote nice words and e-mails. Thank you. I am not one who wants praise or attention. I think you all know that. But thank you all.

    Thirdly, for someone “leaving” I’ve been active today. This is what I want to do. Take a back seat. Comment a bit. But not be the face of the blog. Not be the lightning rod. Chris, Sean and Danny help a ton, but even Chris, who has been here for all but three months of BOC was called the hired hand the other day. That’s not fair.

    Finally, whatever. Just whatever. I have a special place in my heart reserved for certain people. Those too lazy, too specious, too precious to take this place for what it is. I have had four years of this. Time to take a back seat. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel December 28, 2017 / 11:24 pm

      Anyone who posts my stuff must enjoy the brickbats. When YCC post their results, I will react and tell the world just how much certain people have “invested”

      Like

  9. BoredInAustria December 28, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    My God. I spent a quiet day or so and it all happened.

    The team, unlike in 2013/4 did not fall apart. They kept fighting. They scored big. Cook lead the way. Even Broad faced his deamons.

    Unlike when He Who Shall Not Be Named divided the team. Then. He looked out the window when the coach was talking (unlike Jimmy that did not know the coach wanted him to pitch it up). He who wanted to do some nets (unlike Cook that wanted to do fitness).

    Redemption for Cook. And everything he stood for. There will be no aftermath. No witch hunt.

    In an unrelevant fake news of course the Ashes have been lost. But it matters not. The Gray Nichols Man of Steel is there. And the proud Ambassador for Brut. And what the f..k Mr Broad is selling (Hardys?. Brand ECB is great again. It has all gone quite surreal.

    Peter, follow your heart. It has always served you well. I hope to catch up later next year.
    Chris and Co, I hope you keep this show going

    May 2018 bring a new perspective to us all.

    (In a paralle universe they blame the top scorer at the eand of the series and East of Eden he was cast).

    Like

  10. BoredInAustria December 28, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    Well that did not last long

    Following on Cricbuzz: “England will be beaming with confidence. Two slips and a gully for their highest wicket-taker”

    First 3 balls wide of the stumps.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Grenville December 29, 2017 / 12:10 am

    I’ve been thinking about Cook and reactions to His Holiness. He still averages in the 40s, he’s scored insane numbers of runs and is clearly a very good, if not top notch, player. Did Boycott, who is probably in a similar bracket, receive the same rabid praise in response to both haters and well-reasoned criticism?

    Like

    • Zephirine December 29, 2017 / 1:28 am

      Praise for Boycott was always hedged about with ‘buts’, wasn’t it?

      The only person I can think of who, for a while, got the same media hype as Cook gets was Flintoff. But it was different. For one thing, he blatantly encouraged it, and then he revealed his own feet of clay pretty sharpish and the press instantly all pretended they’d never thought he was all that. But there was a time when he was the Favourite Lad who could do no wrong. England was Fred and Fred was England.

      Liked by 1 person

    • oreston December 29, 2017 / 1:37 am

      In a word, no. The Cook phenomenon is as peculiar as it is unique.
      Boycott was respected for his abilities but certainly never venerated or immune from criticism. He was regarded by some (even at Yorkshire CCC) as a bit of an awkward bugger and had the permanently spiky, plain spoken Yorkshireman routine down to a tee. Probably a bit abrasive for some. I don’t recall anyone campaigning for a knighthood when he scored his hundredth hundred in 1977. The landmark was, I suspect, admired more than the man who owned it.
      Sir Geoffrey and Cook are such different personalities that I think it’s difficult to make a direct comparison, and their eras are also vastly different. In both cases personal landmarks can I think be said to be a major motivating factor (Swann said tonight that Cook is “the biggest stats man I know” and that he “knows his average to the nth degree.” Well blow me down, I’d never have guessed…) and both set out their stalls as patient accumulators at the top of the order. There the similarities end. Can you imagine the Sainted Alastair voluntarily exiling himself from the team for three years on a point of principle known fully only unto himself? Boycott wasn’t part of a dressing room clique either (well, maybe a clique of one…) and was definitely not the company apparatchik that Cook is – although in fairness sport hadn’t then yet become the corporatised Gomorrah it is today. But no, Boycott was most definitely not treated by the media and cricket authorities even remotely as Cook is. Probably not from the right sort of family. For one thing he was always passed over for the captaincy, apart from one brief period when he stood in while Brearly was injured.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grenville December 29, 2017 / 9:57 am

        Thank you for the detailed answers. Good point re Flintoff, Zeph. I had forgotten about that. The social class thing makes a lot of sense. Thanks O.

        Like

  12. dlpthomas December 29, 2017 / 1:38 am

    I think it is much easy to be an England supporter if you a) stay of social media and b) live in Australia. All I know about the response of the English media to Cook’s innings is what I read here and that just make me giggle rather than boil my piss or blood or other bodily secretion.

    Yes the series is lost but we should now avoid 5 – 0 and may even win the game. That’s worth something. Also, despite the absence of Starc, Cummings illness, the flat wicket the next highest score was Root’s 61. So it is undoubtedly a great innings and Warne, no Cook fan-boy, said it was the best he has seen Cook play. It will be interesting to see, however, how Cook goes in Sydney should Starc be fit. The Australian media often describe players (eg Kim Hughes, Michael Clarke) as capable of playing great innings rather than being a great player. That, for me, is Alastair Cook.

    More importantly, Australia 2/70 at lunch and Jimmy getting a bit of reverse (Channel 9 boys whining about him running a nail across the ball). England have a real chance to win this.

    Like

  13. Adam H December 29, 2017 / 1:48 am

    Like

    • Adam H December 29, 2017 / 1:49 am

      Like

      • Adam H December 29, 2017 / 1:50 am

        Like

          • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 2:08 am

            And another. Meaningless? Really?

            I need to go to sleep.

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          • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 1:12 pm

            Another example:

            “froth at the mouth”. Nice one, LB. Expected a little better than that nonsense. There are, of course, two schools of thought. Well three. One, 244 not out is meaningless, useless and not worth praise. Respectfully file those under “idiot”. Then there are those who slaver, yes, I’ll go the same way, and brook no question over the innings merit, and, to use a word so important to those defending test cricket, refuse to put it in “CONTEXT”. Then there are those who would not criticise a lovely knock of 244, which it was, the achievement of carrying his bat, of returning to form, of admiring his resilience and concentration, but would like to have had it a couple of test matches ago and believe that if this were Ian Bell in the same situation, that point about the series being dead would have been made. WITH BELLS ON! (pardon the pun).

            When you think about it, it’s not really frothing at the mouth at all, but trying to analyse it, put it into context. But hey ho. It’s easier to focus on the extremes, after all.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark December 29, 2017 / 9:40 am

            I guess Geoff Lemon (whoever he is?) was too young (or too stupid) not to notice in the 1990s when England would win the last test match at the Oval or such like when the series had long gone and the Aussie media would sneer and laugh.

            I also seem to remember the odd sarcastic comment from some of the Aussie players as well. Funny how it all changes for one Mr Cook. #Specialcookrules

            By the way……. had Root or Malan scored a double hundred and not Cook, the English media would be also sneering and saying it is irrelevant.

            It’s the rank hypocrisy that is what stinks.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 12:44 pm

            In the interest of fairness, we went mad for Butcher’s century at Headingley in 2001. It had great technical merit, came in a dead rubber, and against a great attack wanting a whitewash.

            But, the big thing with that hundred, still replayed on Sky Sports Cricket Masterclass is something for debate. Was it discounted because the Aussies gave a sporting declaration which they probably wouldn’t have done if the Ashes were still on the line? And you have to say it wasn’t.

            We loved that we won. We loved to see a great England performance. But deep down we knew, it didn’t really matter. They came out at The Oval and got 600+ in two days (I was there) and put us in our place. Context was everything, really. Like a wondrous 30 yard screamer when you were 3-0 down.

            Like

          • thelegglance December 29, 2017 / 12:56 pm

            Will you stop mentioning all the bloody things I’m writing about in my post I’m drafting??? It’s going to look like I’ve cribbed it from the sodding comments!

            Like

          • Zephirine December 29, 2017 / 12:00 pm

            Pity, Lemon’s done some good stuff on the Guardian OBO. Being a bit contrarian here I think.

            I hope Ian Bell is having a good holiday season. I hope he isn’t quietly grinding his teeth remembering all the times he was castigated for ‘making pretty runs when it didn’t matter’ ‘easy centuries against weakened opposition’. How many noble journos ever stepped forward with a heated defence of Bell because ‘the point of cricket is… playing cricket’?

            Liked by 2 people

          • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 12:03 pm

            The one dig at Bell that amused me was the vigour that scoring a hundred only when someone else had was pointed out. Mercilessly. What was he supposed to do? Get out?

            I did the Bangladesh thing. Take out Bangladesh and his average was poor. Was never totally convinced by him. There was always the “in the form of his life” stuff. But I didn’t after 2013. When he made runs we won the tests. Others would have had an Ashes named after them for that series.

            Liked by 1 person

          • pktroll (@pktroll) December 29, 2017 / 12:44 pm

            That was my favourite thing too Dmitri. I used to do it to take the p*ss out of a somewhat over-enthusiastic fan of his. I then did a google search to find out whether or not anyone else had done something similar. I think I may have told you before this – that google search led me to HDWLIA!

            Like

      • Tom December 29, 2017 / 9:28 am

        “Primacy goes to the contest within each match.”

        I thought we were playing for the Ashes.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. quebecer December 29, 2017 / 2:18 am

    Hello All.
    Have just returned from the even further north where Xmas duties kept me absent, and now I’m back I realize I can’t leave you alone for an instant without all hell breaking loose, can I?
    I’ve read the blogs here, caught up on some highlights, written to Dmitri, and can now say categorically that for an opener to carry his bat for 244 in any test is an achievement of the highest order. To play so well throughout is the only way to accomplish such a feat, and although I’d have swapped it for half as many in the second dig at the WACA, it was a remarkable and superb knock.

    I really really really wish that was all that needed to be said. It’s stunning why absolute arse hats can somehow manage to ruin what should be enough said in the above paragraph, let alone our enjoyment of such a great innings – and great it was, everyone, I really think so. Dead rubber? Yes. But personally overcoming failure to date? Also yes. Conditions and bowling a little easier? Yes – and the head was stiller and the driving straighter. And really, conditions changing is part of the game, and this was still an opener in an Ashes test barring his bat or 244. The test after Holding had bowled THAT over to Boycott on the 80-81 tour, Boycott was batting himself towards an excellent hundred on a nicer track in Antigua. Holding, who Boycs was now playing somewhat easily, passed by at one point and with a smile said, “Different day, different game, Geoffrey.” It’s part of the game, is my point, and shouldn’t diminish the excellence of the innings.

    Of course, what everyone is saying about the preposterous eulogizing outside of this is bang on. I learned a long time ago to pay attention when zeph makes a point and she got to the nub of things when she talked of how those needing to deify Cook somehow combine this with criticisms of Root. She’s right (again) and it is, in my opinion, illuminating. Still, still, after all these years, people feel the need to defend what happened and their positions back then. They backed Cook then, had to raise him to god like levels, and now have to have to have to selectively pounce on anything they feel can show they were right four years ago. It’s sad, says everything you need to know about them, and Root cops it because Cook wasn’t a bad captain, see? Root is a bad captain. Cook is the greatest modern player, not Pietersen, see? It wasn’t Pietersen, because it has to be Cook, so it also now can’t be Root because they’ve already said it is Cook. And everyone keeps their ECB positions.

    God I wish we’d been allowed to simply enjoy Cook’s innings for what it was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas December 29, 2017 / 2:28 am

      Stay of social media and you can.

      When alien archeologists discover the smoking ruins of this planet, they will attribute our self destruction to a combination of the 24 hour news cycle demanding sound bytes rather than reasoned argument, reality TV and twitter.

      Like

      • quebecer December 29, 2017 / 3:07 am

        I decided a while ago to do exactly that for social media, and more recently for virtually all of the media in general. Yet somehow it still infects everything.

        Like

    • OscarDaBosca December 29, 2017 / 10:50 am

      I have also learned to listen when Zepherine speaks. She comments rarely, and speaks wisely.

      Like

      • Zephirine December 29, 2017 / 12:16 pm

        You’re very kind. Not sure that my comments are all that wise, but I approach the game from a slightly different angle, as my technical knowledge is limited. What interests me is the ‘game between the ears’, on and off the field.

        And there certainly are some peculiar things happening between some people’s ears….

        Like

        • OscarDaBosca December 29, 2017 / 2:00 pm

          Maybe it’s the angle of your approach that is different, but I rarely find myself disagreeing with you and often you make me pause and think.
          You did btl on the guardian before I left those forums to the madness it has become.
          This is what I love about this blog, we all love cricket, but we come from differing backgrounds, countries and so we all have something unique to say.
          We are all allowed to say it too, which allows quality debate to occur.
          Having all the commenters from all over the world (and not all supporting England) makes this blog very special.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 2:16 pm

            Among many things, the worldwide reach of this blog, to expats and others who follow the game is what I love the most. I just wish we could tap more of the Sri Grins in India, or even get D’Arthez, the prickly so and so back (yes, D, I do miss your comments!)

            But we’ve lost some. I know PaulE has fallen out of love with the game. KeyserChris can’t get too worked up about it either. Their reaction, people who have been there, seen it, watched from afar in non-cricketing nations, is the canary in the goldmine. Not me “frothing at the mouth”.

            Just had a hit from Liberia, FFS.

            Like

    • man in a barrel December 29, 2017 / 11:05 am

      After all the redemptions that Cook has had, it’s time to start a new religion – Cookianity. JC only got redeemed once. Cook must be twice as good.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 12:36 pm

        What is he redeeming, precisely? On this tour he’s had a redemption for poor form. So are we not allowed to point out his recent poor form, and his track record in the last 30-odd innings against the old foe? That if you didn’t doubt he would do this you were putting your faith in something a little bit beyond the statistical analysis that we have to treat as God everywhere else in sport these days? Sorry. This isn’t a fan site, which is what people wanted us to be.

        Like

        • Mark December 29, 2017 / 1:04 pm

          It’s why this site, and your writing is so good Peter. (And I’m not blowing smoke) It’s precisely because this is not a fan site. Unfortunately English cricket is constituted in such a way as to greatly discourage diversity of thought. Group think is required in all matters regarding Cook. It was not always like this. Something went very wrong about four years ago which it still hasn’t recovered from.

          The media talk endlessly about diversity, but in my view diversity of thought is still the great no,no. If you venture too far off the chosen path you are someone who is to be distrusted, and also feared.

          The media have reduced themsleves to cheerleaders and governing body stenographers. Agnew mentions Cook in the same company as Federer. REALLY? One of the worlds greatest tennis players……. may be the greatest tennis players of all time. A winner, and a stylist. Someone who wins trophies, but also who you would pay your hard earned to watch.

          Cook is very good at what he does. He opens the batting in an obdurate way. He has very few scoring shots. He has great concentration, and a hunger for scores. Good for him. I would rather watch Lara bat, or Gower or Viv Richards or a whole lot more. English cricket used to respect that. Not anymore. They have become fan boys.

          Like

  15. quebecer December 29, 2017 / 3:16 am

    This isn’t the worst time for rain for England. Broad an Anderson had pinned Warner and Smith down well, but they had batted through it. No rain meant Curran and Woakes inevitably alleviating the pressure, but a break now means our top two can come again afterwards and reapply the tounequet. Tough for the Aussie bats who then have to get through it all again, and you can’t help feeling it increases the chances of us getting one of them.

    The optimist returns! 🙂

    Like

    • Tom December 29, 2017 / 3:25 am

      I tend to agree for the same reasons, I always felt *short* rain breaks helped the fielding team more than the batsmen. However, England have got the ball reverse swinging and dampness won’t help that although it may also slow the outfield a bit. Swings and roundabouts.

      Like

      • quebecer December 29, 2017 / 3:30 am

        Actually, that’s a good point. We’ll just have to dig those nails into better areas.

        Like

      • quebecer December 29, 2017 / 3:43 am

        The other fault in my otherwise perfect premise is that Woakes and Curran are continuing after the rain delay. Anyway, apart from all that, and Tom’s point, superb analysis from the tundra.

        Like

        • Tom December 29, 2017 / 8:32 am

          It surprised me as well that Woakes and Curran bowled after the rain break, but to be fair, they bowled really well. Woakes bowled Warner two or three very good yorkers and Curran almost had him with an excellent slow ball. Have to say, this is the first time I’ve watched Curran bowl a few overs and although I know he’s not particularly quick, he was impressive and also quite intelligent, which really does make a change!

          Like

    • Sri. Grins December 29, 2017 / 6:20 am

      😀 I feel very proud Q

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) December 29, 2017 / 6:24 am

    Rain massively foreshortens the day’s play. Still plenty of time for a result, of course, but if it turns out Cook’s efforts don’t even lead to England winning the match….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto December 29, 2017 / 7:15 am

      …then at least 4-day tests will be dead in the water! 6-day tests will be the new thing, whatever is needed to honour ‘the innings’.

      Like

    • nonoxcol December 29, 2017 / 7:46 am

      Maxie
      Well done on flushing out Sportsmail’s source: the libertarian in Swansea with 12 followers who has actually read the text messages of doom.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. metatone December 29, 2017 / 8:17 am

    Ok, so rain stopped play.
    It’s going to take some pretty special bowling for England to win this match.
    Aus are brittle, but only 61 behind. They are 2 down, but Warner & Smith are still there.
    1st session tomorrow should be Test cricket at its best.
    Only time will tell if I can actually stay awake for the start of play.

    Like

  18. Deep Purple Fred December 29, 2017 / 10:18 am

    That’s very unfortunate, Australia’s victory push foiled by rain.

    Like

  19. Deep Purple Fred December 29, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Since you don’t only run this blog but also wade in the twitter-sewer, I can understand your frustration Dmitri.
    I can only add my voice to the chorus praising the space you have created here. It’s sensible and informed. It’s anger can be a bit much at times, bit in fact it’s well placed anger.
    The best cricket forum I know of.

    Like

  20. Nicholas December 29, 2017 / 10:31 am

    This one has ‘draw’ written all over it to me now, given today’s weather. And I therefore revise my 4-1 series prediction to 4-0 – I think Australia will bounce back in Sydney and walk all over England again, with another failure from Cook.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 29, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      England in the same position would be nailed on to lose from here! They need to bat until after tea and be well ahead.

      I think Sydney depends on how fit Starc is. My suspicion, and it is only that, is if the Ashes were still on the line, Starc would be playing. Hence I think if he’s not 100% fit, he’s not going to play at Sydney. They have other fish to fry coming up.

      Like

  21. Mark December 29, 2017 / 10:47 am

    ORESTON makes a great point above which I want to zero in on……

    (Swann said tonight that Cook is “the biggest stats man I know” and that he “knows his average to the nth degree.” )

    Hmm…….. You See this is what pisses people like me off. Every now and again they drop the mask and reveal the truth. Cook is a stats obsessive. I can believe this from Swann because if you go to Cooks Wikipedia page it is cramed with stats. Even scores he made at school are lovingly laid out.

    Nothing wrong with this if that is the type of person you are. However, the media lie to us that Cook is not interested in personal landmarks. BULLSHIT. Of course he is….if he knows what his average is down to nth degree. This is what I hate about the cult of Cook. The lies that the media push on the fan. Knowing full well it’s lies.

    They have created a robot, an autmoaton that is fake. In some ways I feel sorry for him because he is not served by this horse shit. Sure, they may have felt he needed protecting at the time of the KP fracas, but that was four years ago, and they are still covering for him and lying their arses off.

    No captain in English cricket has ever been protected like him, no batsman has been protected by the media when he has gone through a bad spell like Cook. The media are dishonest, and they know they are. Apparently this blogs biggest crime is to point out this fact.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Zephirine December 29, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Yes, I thought that was very revealing from Swann, though as I’ve said before Cook’s autobiog is the same, it’s just basically how many runs he’d ever scored in his entire life up to that point. Plus the fact that he was at boarding school from the age of 7 or something (and choirboys don’t get to go home at weekends), which would be formative, you’d think.

      I wouldn’t feel sorry for Cook, though. He’s getting what he wants, which is chances to score more runs and break more records. He seems to have a happy personal life and he’s made a shedload of money. And apart from the occasional petulant outburst he does seem remarkably capable of shrugging off things in life that don’t suit his worldview.

      Like

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