There wasn’t too much play at the MCG in the end, and what there was proved to be inconclusive. England are now the only side that can realistically win the match, but a draw is now possibly the most likely outcome. Perhaps though the series to this point colours perceptions, were England in this position, doubtless the expectations would be different, given Australia will likely need to bat into tea to make the game reasonably safe.
In what play there was, England extended their innings by one ball -Anderson being dismissed – and then picked up a couple of wickets before Warner and Smith saw out the day on a surface that is slow and unresponsive. England certainly tried to get as much out of it as possible, working furiously on the ball, and trying the age old trick of flinging it via the ground at every opportunity in the field in an attempt to create reverse swing. There was a marvellously manufactured row from Australian television attempting to imply Anderson was digging a nail into the ball, which sadly foundered on the reality that if he was doing so, it was to the shiny side – i.e. the wrong one – meaning that Anderson would have to be the dimmest nefarious cricketer since Herschelle Gibbs.
Of course, Cook’s double century continued to cause debate and, let’s face it, abuse, particularly given the shortage of play and lack of decisive action. So here’s a cut out and keep guide to the stupidity of the low quality “debate”:
You just can’t give Cook any credit whatever can you?
Um, well apart from saying repeatedly how well he batted and how good an innings it was.
Yes, but you said it’s irrelevant in a dead rubber, don’t deny it.
No, it’s not irrelevant. Some fabulous innings have been made when a series is gone – Mark Butcher at Headingley, Brian Lara’s world record at St John’s. In both cases, that series irrelevance was pointed out as a qualifier, mind, however unfair might have been. And regret that it hadn’t come earlier in the series. Oddly enough Cook himself said the same thing, he’s obviously frustrated as well as proud. This shouldn’t be too hard to work out, saying it’s meaningless is stupid, saying it’s the greatest and most vital innings ever is equally stupid.
There you go then, you don’t think it matters.
Of course it matters, England were heading for a whitewash. His knock means that’s now not going to happen and England have shown some fight. And every Test matters, so well done him, and goodness me, didn’t he bat well? Irrespective of surface and Starc not playing, that’s the best he’s looked in years.
You just can’t give him any credit at all can you?
We keep saying we are, aren’t you listening? The reaction from some quarters – knighthoods, pantheon of greats and all that – is a bit over the top though, surely?
See, there you go again, it’s all about Kevin Pietersen.
It is, don’t deny it.
It’s you who keeps bringing him up. You seem obsessed with this subject far more than anyone else.
And that’s why you wanted Cook dropped.
Here’s a curious thing. Nuance is no longer allowed it seems. This place has been pointing out Cook’s struggles and declining returns for a couple of years, and expressing concern for this series that while England needed him badly to perform, the evidence suggested he probably wouldn’t. But after three Tests, those now screaming with delight were saying he was probably done and should retire. Those great Cook haters at BOC kept saying this was absurd, he was still one of our two best openers by a distance, irrespective of his struggles. Losing him weakens the side, why would that anyone who wants England to do well want that?
It’s just about you hating him.
Can’t you read? Has any of that gone in?
You never give him any credit for anything.
He’s been a terrific player, and England’s best opener in a long time, why is that not enough?
There you go, proof you loathe him, qualifying that statement.
Sorry? What is wrong with that? It’s significant praise.
No it isn’t, it’s grudging. No credit whatever.
Because we might not think he’s England’s best ever batsman ? That’s what the problem is?
Let’s get this straight, saying he batted really well this Test is not enough, saying he’s a very fine opening batsman indeed is not enough?
You just can’t bear seeing him succeed.
No, what the problem is, is the endless hagiography, the use of Cook as a weapon to beat up everyone who points out double standards, the media treatment of him as an exceptional case and the sheer hypocrisy of it all. Cook isn’t responsible for that, others are. Why on earth can’t you just be pleased? Why is it an excuse to win on the internet?
There’s loads of hatred for him on Twitter.
Yes, there is. Since when has Twitter ever been anything else? You do realise there’s loads of hatred on Twitter for others too, right?
So what do you have to say about that?
You mean we’re responsible for the stupidity of others? Blimey. Is that all stupidity, or just where it applies to Cook? You have seen the stick others get haven’t you?
It’s not the same. Cook is one of England’s greatest ever.
Isn’t this debatable? Isn’t this something that is rather open to question given the records of others? He’s been the best opener England have had in a fair while, that’s pretty clear.
Qualifying it again, that’s just like you.
Of course it needs qualification. Doesn’t everything need qualification? This is madness, an insistence at genuflecting at the altar of greatness without any context, either for this innings or a career.
I rest my case. You’re furious he’s done well.
No, we’re furious at the over the top response to him doing well. Can’t you see the difference? What’s wrong with praising him for doing well and observing when he hasnt?
It’s nothing more than abuse, you scumbag.
Sigh. Ok, you win.
Being a writer down might be considered unfortunate, being two is unquestionably careless. Sean you utter idiot! But it did make us laugh.
Day five is a chance for England to register a win on a tour that has proved a disaster to date. Should they do so, it doesn’t undo that, but nor is it an irrelevance. It does highlight what was said in the build up to the series, that for England to compete, they needed their main batting guns to fire. Cook has done so here, and now they’re in a very strong position. Of all the people thinking if only he’d done it earlier, no one will be feeling it more strongly than Alastair Cook himself. And that’s kind of the point isn’t it?