Sink Me In A River Of Tears – The Retirement of Alastair Cook

Cook brings up century at Perth – December 2006 – I was there. Read on.

Watching sport, being a fan of sport, is always a personal thing. Well it is to me. Early on you partition players, teams, managers into neat boxes. Your personal favourites, your true hates, your quite-like them, to I’m not a huge fan, to those that just stay there, in the middle, doing nothing to stir your emotions. You can flit from box to box, but rarely through your own deeds, rather how events impact upon you.

Each team, or sport, needs the emotions, the love, the hate, and each feeling is individual. But how others react can push the emotions the other way. Take Roger Federer. I’ve never been a fan, but then I’ve never really loathed him. He was just there. Nadal, even Murray, had those rougher edges, and I preferred them, though not to hate Federer or demean his achievements and skill. Then, when Murray got to his first Wimbledon final and the crowd was split, I started on the route of dislike. The lachrymose response to his wins now draws my ire. The over the top, sickly love for everything and anything pushes me further. For no fault of Federer’s own, I now want him to lose. That’s sport. That’s how I react. Back in the day when it was between Borg and McEnroe. It was Borg. It’s not consistent. I hated some mavericks, loved others. I loved dominant superstars like Michael Jordan, whatever their faults, and hated others like Tiger Woods, who shared those faults. There is a point to this, and it will, hopefully, be borne out in the post below. It’s long, stick with me. Long even by my standards. I’ll also be amending it and updating it as well, so typos and thoughts might be changed.

The Announcement

At 12 Noon today, although I had been advised an hour earlier, Cook’s retirement from test cricket was announced. It is now the time for everyone to be super-nice to him. For his “haters” to shut up and acknowledge his greatness. For us to respect the man’s career. For those who deem me a hater, and who don’t want to go on, read the first two paragraphs again and then sod off. You might get the hint.

I’m going to let the press, the TV, the internet sites, other bloggers, fans and not fans, to do the traditional thing and pay homage to a player who has given great services and performance to the England team. For them this retirement may genuinely hurt, may close the end of an era, may even feel a little premature. For those who genuinely loved him as a player, this is never easy. I should know. I know how it feels. It was how I felt on 4 February 2014. The moving on of a rock of the team is hard.

For me Alastair Cook, probably even more than the South African born middle-order batsman, defined my blogging life and it is more that which I’ll concentrate on here, as well as the big issues and some of the myths.

Blogging is about personal feelings, your opinions, your comments on what you’ve seen and what you don’t see – you need to be genuine, to be what you are. People see through you. Sport evokes the passions and we see them on here, and like most of what we read. Like Danny Baker, as he said when introducing 6-0-6 just be “good” and tell your story. We report a little on the cricket, but you can see with your own eyes, form your own opinions, and we don’t need to recall every event, every wicket, every controversy on the field of play as if our coverage reputation and traffic driving depend upon it.

We are here, well I know I am, to say what I think. You can agree, you can disagree. That’s the way the world rolls. But I can say that nothing, and I mean nothing, has had my head banging against the wall, my sanity tested, been the source of more flounces, the reactions been more visceral, than the times I have not venerated Cook at the times I was told I had to. Most recently it was his epic 244 not out at Melbourne, where I was told to defy logic, ignore what professional sportsmen have said, and to basically shut up because Alastair Cook had made a big score in a dead rubber. “There are no dead rubbers, this is a great innings, he is a great player, he should be venerated as a national treasure.” England lost that series 4-0 and it was his only contribution. It avoided a whitewash, so low had our bar been set. To point out that this wasn’t a moment for triumphalism was to be greeted with rage. Pure rage. I packed in blogging for three months. I had no anger left to give. It was destroying me inside. I took a break. Cook, and that schism, had never healed. It will never heal. It can never heal. Not for me.

The Early, Innocent Days

I had no idea, none of us did, when Alastair Cook walked out at Nagpur in the winter of 2006 of the trouble he’d cause! My first memory of him was the reputation at U19 level, but the first true one was his demolition job for Essex on Australia in the run-up to the crucial 5th Test in 2005. His double hundred in a day got people’s attention at a time when the country was in the thrall of test cricket, great test cricket, not this imposter masquerading as it now. But at the time, with Trescothick and Strauss as openers, there didn’t really seem a way in to the team, especially as Thorpe had been shunted aside for SABMOB, and Bell was clearly going to be backed at 3. However, when Tres was unavailable for the 1st test against India at Nagpur, Cook flew over from the West Indies to make his debut with little time to truly prepare. A hugely promising 60 in the first innings was the pre-cursor to a mature, well-compiled, impressive century in the second innings. We were used to debutants starting well for England in those days, funny that, but this seemed different. He missed the “Ring of Fire” test in Mumbai, which would be the only one he would in his career through injury or illness, but was recalled for the following summer. It was there I first saw him bat in person, as I caught the recovery job he did with Paul Collingwood against Pakistan at Lord’s. He had been slotted in at three as a vacancy cropped up in the batting order with Vaughan’s injury.

Cook was never elegant, never truly exciting to watch, but you knew the one thing he had was temperament, and again, in this modern imposter, you don’t see that as much. He had a slight issue in his early days of making small hundreds, but it was certain he would be a fixture for a while to come. I caught his 83 at the Oval later that summer, in a century partnerships with SABMOB, and he had guaranteed himself an Ashes tour and the first “proper” examination of his abilities.

If I had to define early Alastair Cook it would be the innings in Perth that winter. England were in the middle of a torrid tour, the wheels falling off after a destruction in Brisbane and the heartbreak of Adelaide. Having bowled Aussie out cheaply in the first innings, England failed to capitalise, and in the second were murdered. Having lost Strauss late on Day 3, and with a target well over 500 to chase in two days, Cook, not in anywhere like his best form dug in. At the other end Ian Bell flowed, batting beautifully, but gave it away on 80-odd. Cook relentless pursued the end of the day. An interminable time on 99 ratcheted up the tension, but he got there. England fans stood and applauded. Aussies near us did too, although the ones we were with didn’t rate him. There was an announcement that tickets for Day 5 would be on sale with England still only three down. One of our number went to the ticket office to buy them. When he got back Cook got out, knackered but with the great milestone, Hoggard went first ball, and we couldn’t have buyer’s remorse. Even then, he was causing problems!

Cook did not have a good series, save that innings, and the whispers for his place were quite pronounced, if I recall (and I don’t recall well from that period). With Peter Moores now in the coach’s role, and with no Ashes for two and a half years to define him, as that series tended to do, Cook cemented his place with solidity over the next few years. Taking over from Trescothick as an opener, Cook forged the partnership with Strauss that would be the anchor for the next five years. A couple of centuries in the early series against the West Indies confirmed his role, but he didn’t cash in against India later that year. He made a century in Galle after England had crashed in the first innings which showed great technique against spin, and that resilience we needed, but then embarked on one of those spells without hundreds, lasting 28 innings and four series before a 139 not out on a Bridgetown road in the second innings got him back on track (he also made 94 in the first innings). The Ashes later that year provided no centuries, but an important 95 on the opening day of the Lord’s test should not be ignored.

If you took Cook’s early career, we had a man who was sure of his place, in a solid opening line-up, but had not gone to the next level required of greatness. He had moderate success against Australia, had performed capably in the sub-continent, but frustratingly seemed to score centuries only up to around 130, with a couple of exceptions. This was in an era of lots of hundreds, so Cook really didn’t stand out. Not with me, not with people I knew, not with cricket fans I went to games with. Good player. Part of the furniture.

Now I could go on and on, but I think it is important to look at those first four years, because they were the bedrock of his career. Cook was an automatic choice in 2009, no-one really doubted that he and Strauss were locked in, there weren’t enormous numbers of openers banging down the door (something both were fortunate to have in their careers), and he had ascended to vice-captaincy after SABMOB had his spectacular falling out with the ECB. Then we enter the realms of mythology, superheroes, soap operas and the need to take sides.

Those Middle Years, The Myth And Reality

The first myth is, of course, the innings that saved his career at The Oval against Pakistan. First, all have gone on record, those that mattered, that Cook was going to tour Australia, period. Second, although there had been a difficult spell, within it was his best test hundred up until then, against South Africa at Durban in 2009, just eight tests prior to that, and that after that tour, he captained England in Bangladesh where he made two further hundreds. Compared to later barren spells, this was rich pickings. But the media had their eye trained on him. As it was SABMOB got dropped from the one day team on the back of poor form in those tests. Sure, Cook’s ugly ton took some pressure off, but that innings has entered into mythology. He was always going to Australia.

The second myth is that he has a great record against Australia. He doesn’t. He had one great series, and what a series it was, and the occasional high point thereafter. That winter will always live with England fans as they administered a beating to a team that needed it from us on their own patch. His Brisbane hundred, well 235, turned the tide which looked like it might overwhelm us. His Adelaide hundred set the foundations for SABN3 and SABMOB to pound home the advantage, and then after failures at Perth, an 80 odd at Melbourne and another big hundred at Sydney played massive parts in mammoth totals and massive wins. Oh to be alive in those days. Before T20 attitudes made modern test cricket its poor cousin. Cook won man of the series, he had his iconic series, he had the plaudits of a great team effort.

While not at his best the following summer, he still made his highest test score at Edgbaston (294) which, if memory serves, Derek Pringle slagged off for being too self-indulgent. In a summer when England clinched the number one slot, he played a massive role in a team of very very good players. It was a sum of its parts, an orchestra of a team, but built on some iffy old foundations. Loud brash parts like SABMOB and Lovejoy, the solidity of the top three, the beauty of Bell, the confidence of Prior and a bowling attack we knew had a decent chance on most surfaces of taking wickets most of the time.

While not making huge scores during the Little Difficult Winter of 2011-12 (saved by SABMOB’s amazing ton in Colombo) he was one of the brighter lights. But another run of 18 innings without a ton was underway, ended in the first test v South Africa with a 115 before the wheels came off England and the team in the subsequent hair-raising, febrile weeks. It culminated in Cook taking over captaincy from Andrew Strauss and that’s when the whole thing started to spin out of control.

Cook the batsman had been one of the foundations, a solid presence, a regular feature of England when good or bad. He had not been the subject of ire, nor had he been the subject of great love either. Just another good player in a good team playing mainly good cricket. Captaincy changed that. The results of his captaincy changed everything for me. I’ve ended a lot less passionate about England than I used to be.

India and the 2013 Ashes

A lot has been made over the years about the rehabilitation of SABMOB and who did it. Aggers once told me it was mainly Flower’s doing, which is an interesting line. Others say that Cook brought SABMOB back into the fold. It’s important for the narrative. Cook bringing him is used as a virtuous point, and that when it all went tits up it was all on SABMOB because Cook had been so charitable back then. It’s all bollocks, of course. If Cook wanted him back it was because he wanted to win in India (at your least charitable) or Textgate was a load of guff and let’s act like adults (the most charitable). What happened after the rehabilitation is the stuff of legend we may never see again. Cook was great, truly great, in that series. His 176 in a losing cause at Ahmedabad was crucial, telling his team “we can bat on this stuff, come on”. His ton at Mumbai, in league with SABMOB, put England in a dominant position, and then his 190 at Kalkota sealed the deal (where a bizarre run out denied him an almost certain double). It was a magnificent triumph, and while most recall the SABMOB innings at Mumbai, Cook was the main man that series. I have the highlights of that tour on DVD and it gets an airing every now and then. England had won in Australia and India within the space of two years.

The runs still came, with a couple of centuries in five tests against New Zealand home and away, but the away series in particular he and his team were incredibly fortunate not to lose. The one thing with captains is that they can’t score runs every time, and while his Dunedin ton played a large point in averting defeat, and his Headingley ton set up victory (while Trott and Compton saw negative press), we, and the media weren’t to know that the runs would, relatively speaking dry up. Certainly the centuries did.

England’s Ashes winning team of 2013 exemplified the problem. This was a team that had Cook as captain, but no-one seemed to think he had a strong hand on the tiller. Lovejoy, Anderson and Broad seemed to be their own band of brothers, and SABMOB wasn’t about to march to anyone’s drum. Prior was his own one man posture factory, while the coach held the team in a vice-like grip. The 3-0 win is widely unloved in media circles for dull cricket, played on dead wickets, with remorseless win the big moments cricket. Cook wasn’t getting the praise for this, Flower was, what praise there was. The iron man coach, extracting every drop from his ageing team, with a novice captain who could only lead from the front by scoring runs.

The Difficult Winter

We lost 5-0, if you recall and I don’t think “wheels coming off” does it justice. The Sydney test run-up, event and aftermath will go down in legend. Cook has been pretty silent on all these matters, and most of the other protagonists, with one exception, have left the path clear for Cook to give his story, the anti-SABMOB story. It is going to be interesting when, if we ever do, get the chance to pick the bones out of this. It is still important because other mavericks will play for England, are playing for England.

What followed a tour where Cook’s captaincy was just one of the many car crashes is still, in my eyes, scarcely credible. It was summed up for me in the Downton interview on TMS when Agnew asked whether the ECB had ever questioned whether Cook should remain as captain. “Not really, no” was Downton’s reply. I had had a few that night and that got an expletive as I boarded the train on listening to it. Clarke’s “right kind of people” comment had already stoked the flames. The nonsense emanating from our media, all following dutifully the line from the ECB was sickening. This seemed like a public hanging of the man who, despite everything said about that tour, made the most runs for England. In the aftermath of SABMOB’s sacking everything was done to besmirch his actual performance as well as the person. The comparison of the approach to their records, and their last few years of performance is stark. This is the sort of thing that pushes you from the “I don’t mind him” to “I really am not a fan” box as stated in the opening stanzas all that time ago. Did it push me in to the “I hate that man” box subsequently. Yes. Of course it did. You knew that. But for the sake of writing a blog and not getting abuse every five minutes on Twitter, I played it much nicer than I wanted, believe it or not.

And that’s because for every time I tried to be fair, for every time I stated his record, and how the big innings were getting further and further apart, it was met by people who suddenly became Cook devotees. It became incredibly frustrating. Couldn’t these people see his performance was tailing off. A dismal series against Sri Lanka, combined with as abject a day of captaincy one could ever imagine still didn’t shift the resolve. Media rallied to him, few saying the unsayable, and I got more angry. Two more tests without a major contribution, another despicable loss at Lord’s to India, and even some of the hardened fans in the media were about to kill him off.

Southampton

Any doubt that we were now in the presence of someone with authority and media on his side went with this innings. 95 painful, determined, gritty, damn you runs had even decent people, like Athers, saying he was nearly back to his best. The difference between this and India was like night and day but we were being told to not believe our own eyes. As this happened, my rage, my anger, and that of many on HDWLIA reached boiling point. It came to a head, and I truly was questioning whether I was ever going to love England cricket again. Do you know how hard it was for someone who lived and breathed England and cricket for over 30 years to write that? That’s what people have never got. We don’t want to hate, we don’t want to get angry, because we care about the game. Southampton was a low point. At that time it was also the point when the blog and the reaction to it was ratcheting up. It was new to me, I didn’t know how to handle it. I wasn’t allowed to make the mistakes that I was bound to make, while the media took ECB press releases and regurgitated them, SABMOB was pilloried without a trial by facts, but trial by innuendo. Cook was placed on a pedestal and yet he didn’t deserve it. He’d been made the lightning rod, the totem that the ECB were hanging their hats on, and damn those of you who didn’t care. How much Cook was responsible for this we’ll never find out. Do I put all the blame on him? No. Do I absolve him as a mere innocent bystander in the way of a maelstron? No.

But the schism was evident and Cook did nothing to quell it, even if he wanted to. When the 95 was greeted by arseholes like Swann as one in the eye for his “grumpy git” critics, so called calmer voices, more respected voices, called those questioning Cook and his form as “lunatics and numpties”. Sky had drawn the line and when that someone was the “cavalier” who had been sawn off by a “roundhead” then we knew it was time for sense to wave goodbye. David Gower ought to have hung his head in shame. That wasn’t happening then.

The Rest….

The last four years has seen rinse and repeat. Cook goes through a long lean patch, and if you pointed it out you were the producer of an Anti-Cook blog, and when he did put together a good or better innings, the pro-Cook gang wanted to ram it down our throats. Especially if you wanted to put it into some kind of context.

His removal from the One Day team was much overdue, and in hindsight 100% correct despite the debacle of the 2015 campaign. His presence in the team then now look as progressive as Dad’s Army in today’s light, but Cook did let it effect him, as shown in a number of quotes afterwards. He’s only human, and wanted to lead in the World Cup. In the eyes of the media, many who wanted the decision made, the indecision and subsequent feeling that Cook had been treated badly had a knock-on effect for Downton. Aplomb in 2014, A plum in 2015.

A much awaited century after nearly two years in Barbados was greeted with bunting and street parties, metaphorically speaking, even though we lost the test and the lead in the series in that match. Sometimes personal milestones meant more to those outside than results. The 162 at Lord’s against New Zealand was arguably his best ever innings in England – you know how much I hate saying things like that – and we recognised that and praised it on here. But to those who wanted to believe, it was another eff you after SABMOB had been dismissed again with words circulating that Cook had not merely signed off on the exclusion order, but was a key party in drafting it.

The 2015 Ashes were won on a succession of odd wickets and weird matches where the contest never developed in matches, but from match to match. On the final wicket at Trent Bridge Nasser let rip the feelings of all those on one side of the fence with his “Redemption for Cook” drivel, as if an Ashes win was all for one man and sod the rest, especially Broad, Anderson, Bell, Root etc who had had that humiliation. While it was frequently aimed at me that I looked through the team via a Cook prism, the converse definitely applied. Successes had Cook as a father. Failures found one of his other players as the orphan blamed.

Cook still had the massive innings in him, such as Abu Dhabi, Edgbaston and Melbourne, but his failures in the fourth innings when defeat needed be staved off became more common. More often he would lose his wicket early, or make a doughty sixty or eighty and get out. The big knocks became fewer and further between. His captaincy, especially of spinners, was questionable if we were being polite. He had triumphs as captain – a good win in South Africa with an opening partner that the media did nothing but underming – was brought on the back of good wins in Durban and Johannesburg, but no hundreds were contributed by the skipper. How much effect he had on these wins is hard to tell, but success again has many fathers, and in the eyes of the media, many of them, he was the Daddy.

Is It Him, Or Is It Me?

As I mentioned earlier, Cook, and to a lesser extent Strauss, faced no real competition for the opening slot in the late 2000’s and early 2010s. After Strauss’s form fell apart, and he left the captaincy spitting feathers at SABMOB for overshadowing his 100th test, Cook faced up to a number of replacements. Here are a selection of them:

  • Nick Compton – probably his most successful partner, winning two series with him in India and South Africa (where he batted 3), and who made two tons while opening with him. A less than subtle whispering campaign did for him, as it undermined form.
  • Joe Root – Well that experiment worked well. A 180 at Lord’s aside, this never worked. Root was chucked in early in his career, propelled by Shiny Toy as a better alternative to Compton. Ditched in time for Australia away.
  • Michael Carberry – Not bad on a disastrous tour, but never truly convinced either. Again discarded after he’d not backed the party line on SABMOB or the way he was treated as an unmarried man.
  • Sam Robson – Century in his second test (this during Cook’s barren run) and then had his technique exposed and media questioning him constantly. The sweet fruit to replace Carberry ended up cast aside at the end of the summer, never to be seen again.
  • Jonathan Trott – Not one of our media’s finest hours that one. Lobbied for it, undermined him, he jacked it in. Worth a try.
  • Adam Lyth – Century in his second test, tell me where you’ve heard that before, and then had his technique exposed and media questioning him constantly. Touted much before the season started, tossed away before the winter.
  • Moeen Ali – Less said about that experiment the better.
  • Alex Hales – Very good ODI batsman. That worked well.
  • Ben Duckett – Started with a bang, got found out with spin. Tossed aside for a much younger model.
  • Haseeb Hameed – Possibly the only opener not kicked out for poor form in the test arena. Instead he was injured, over-praised, over-hyped, fell apart domestically and can’t even get in Lancashire’s first team. Yet still people think he should be picked.
  • Keaton Jennings – Century on debut, technique exposed and media questioned him soon after because he wasn’t HH. Kept his place, fell apart, dropped. Returned later, given clean bill of health by Dr Sky, then caught same sickness and clinging to a place.
  • Mark Stoneman – Not a disaster in Australia, but not a Vaughan pick so not likely to succeed. Yes, I wrote that. Confidence fell apart, only just recovering it for Surrey.

You have to ask, some with Cook as captain, some as senior pro at the other end if there is an iota of blame on him. Even a tiny bit. These aren’t all bad players, but they’ve gone to pot in this England environment of which Cook is a key cog. This rarely gets mentioned, does it? Instead it has kept the no alternative narrative in place for so long, even I believe it. I doubt Rory Burns because of this.

The End of the Captaincy

A series win against Sri Lanka followed by an entertaining at times 2-2 draw at home to Pakistan and the missed opportunity to go to Number 1 in the world seemed to start the whispers that it was time for Cook to go. They were not whispers on this blog. A century at Old Trafford had calmed any batting nerves, but England still seemed mightily weak when facing any kind of first innings total. A daunting tour of Bangladesh and then India might provide the kill or cure for Cook. He had an outstanding record in India, and his double in Abu Dhabi proved he could still play on these wickets. The distraction of the birth of a child leading up to the Bangladesh test was amped up as Cook being superhuman – we’d gone past sense at this point – but after a nailbiting, tense first test win, England were steamrollered in the second.

But this didn’t matter, it was a warm up for the main event. For Cook it started well. A second innings ton in Rajkot staved off a possibility of a second innings collapse that could have happened, and England had India concerned towards the end of the test. But the form dipped, the team started losing, and by the time this sorry team had got to Chennai, the wheels had come off the wagon, and Karun Nair ran us over for 303 runs he will never get again in a test match. After Christmas Cook did the honourable thing and resigned. Something I thought he should have done three years before, but hey, there’s nothing like a sinner repenting is there?

Back In The Ranks

Unlike other countries, England have no problems with the captain going back as a normal player, but this wasn’t your normal ex-captain. With the pressure off as captain and with the SABMOB problem long in the rear view mirror, Cook was going to be the old hand at first slip, guiding the young captain, and making lots of runs. The test summer was delayed by ODI nonsense and Cook played county cricket, making runs for the champion team that year. I think it is magnificent that he is going to go back there after his test retirement, but he could do with a break for the last game of the season!

What happened with his batting was interesting indeed. He made some solid scores v South Africa, but when dismissed, Sky in particular were remarking how remarkable the bowling was to get him out – Morkel at the Oval in particular sticks in my mind. It was as if they could not be proved wrong. Cook was doing OK, but the sense was that because he wasn’t piling on century after century now he could just concentrate on his own game was not the creeping of age, or that he was increasingly being found out. For those newbies fighting against technical issues, temperament and aptitude were called into question. With those totemic series in the distant rear view mirror, the harking back to them seemed even odder. We did it with Botham in the 80s, and yet still we do it.

No bother, a double hundred in the day night game against a woeful West Indies attack on those two days put any questions to rest. Cook had his big innings for the summer, one big innings more than all the other openers he batted with for a couple of years, and no-one was questioning his place in the Ashes. We, here, suspected what was coming.

244*

Cook was lamentable in the first three tests. He was the senior batsman and he was in no sort of form. He set the tone with his dismissal at Brisbane on the first morning. In the first three matches he’s made 83 runs. England had lost the Ashes. Batsman like Malan, Vince, yes Vince, Stoneman, Bairstow and Root had at least contributed something in losing causes. When the series was alive, and on pitches or conditions that had something, England lost and their senior opener had been bad. Harsh? Not….at…..all.

Then came Melbourne. A road, a dull dusty dry old pile of crap. A chief exec’s wicket if he fancied a day 7. That Australia were bowled out on it may have proved that they weren’t at the races. No matter. This was a time where no criticism, no mitigation, no sense of proportion was allowed. If I had mellowed over Cook, and I had to a degree that he was no longer captain and was still one of the best two openers in England, this stopped it. The reaction said it all. People lost their minds over it. No it wasn’t worthless, yes it was a really good knock and one Cook could be proud of. It wasn’t as worthy because the series had gone (imagine Crawley or Ramps making that score in that game, for example, or even Bell), and the Aussies maybe took the game too lightly. Journos should have known better. Twitter idiots got muted for that, and I’ve not missed them one jot. It got to me because we were being pilloried just for not enjoying an innings in a test series we had lost to a team everyone accepted we’d lose to, which wasn’t what I was used to. Even in the days of the great teams we enjoyed the token wins against Australia but we were realistic about them. Here we had to suspend realism. I decided to quit the blog, and refresh the old brain in doing something else. Cook had beaten me. His acolytes had done it.

The Final Countdown

The new dawn was a false one, as we suspected it might be. As the pitches livened up, so did the bowling and so went Cook. 5,2,2 and 14 in New Zealand and Stoneman was the one under pressure. A very decent 70 at Lord’s was the pre-cursor to a run of low scores, often beaten or got out by world class, terrific delivery after delivery. Ashwin took him down twice at Edgbaston. The seamers got him after that. The whispers grew louder, the terrific deliveries to get him out became less terrific. Even Newman was hinting it was time for the “great man” to go. I’d long since checked out of the debate – it wasn’t worth it any more, banging my head against the brick wall, but part of me felt a little sad. Truthfully. These guys, who had buffered him up, ensconced his position were being disloyal (except Selvey who kept on about batting at 3, as if that were the cure-all), and now they were bowing their heads and saying their old king was infirm. Why the hell should we listen to you lot?

The Final Comments

OK. Nearly 6000 words in, and sorry for that, but I need to do this justice. Let’s go back to the start and the pigeonholing of sportsmen and women into categories. For 8 years in the test team I veered from the middle ground to quite liking Cook. Affable fellow, unassuming, capable of stretches where he looked invincible. Loved 2010-11, loved India 2012. Never thought he would be a good captain because as a batsman he was too self absorbed – a bit Gooch like – but he won’t be the last who got the job because the face fit. Hardly his fault and who would turn it down?

Of course the Ashes changed everything. There became the them v us atmosphere depending on what side you were on. As I wrote on the post Schism..

Tonight it [the blog – me] has even been accused of being a “bunch of oddballs” and not “real cricket fans”. You know, that might be what you think, but I doubt it. We give a toss. I didn’t spare criticism of Alastair Cook during those times for in my view, he deserved to be criticised. I fail to see how any sentient cricket fan could watch a series losing storm of nonsense like Day 4 at Headingley and not be moved to paroxysms of rage. It was woeful. Whether it was entirely him, his bowlers or Moores, it was extraordinary. There was anger at performance as well as anger at his appearance as being, in part, responsible for the exclusion of KP.”

There are those mealy-mouthed, ride the SABMOB rage wave to have a pop at the ECB people who have said there is no need for this schism. Of course there was. You were either for proper, accountable selection and non-scapegoating, or you supported the captain who benefited it. It was that polar opposite. Sure, I was on the extreme end of the rage spectrum but so were those who called us oddballs (and worse).

 I understand people telling us we should move on, that this is a fight that’s over, that he’s never coming back so “get behind this new exciting team”.

I make one request tonight of those on the other side of the debate. Why do you think we’ve not totally embraced this new future? Do you seriously think it is man-love for one player? Because if you do, you are not the intelligent people I give you credit for.

This was it. Cook and his fans wanted us to move on from something we were not being told about. It was frustrating, annoying and downright odd. They could not understand why we just didn’t get behind the team. Cook is a nice guy, trust him. He’s up against a money-grabbing mercenary who wasn’t even born here, and had texted the opposition during a test to tell them how to get his captain out. So if your figurehead, the man you are backing, is a beneficiary of this stuff, how do you expect me to get behind him. At times I did not care if England won or not. At times I thought it better we lose under him than win with him because the nonsense got worse and worse. If you could ignore Day 4 at Headingley v Sri Lanka, you could pretty much ignore anything as a captain. Who were being loyal to England then? Oh, I know, losing at home to Sri Lanka never mattered.

Cook may never have wanted to be in that position, but I saw little to convince me he didn’t. What with the stubborn streak being lauded, his battles against technique wistfully recorded like doting lovers, and every success like Southampton a cause celebre to stick the knife in to those uppity supporters who demanded to know what the hell was going on, as if that were a crime, the pain at this sport grew. Move on was more likely to be move away. Cricket wasn’t as fun any more. I’ve been through losing teams, paid my way to see them, but loved test cricket too much to worry about that. That I had seen SABMOB make a few really exciting tons fed that. Then on the back of a failure of a tour, with a coach that failed and a captain that failed, the batsman that failed least was made the victim. I’m not sitting here taking that. And if the organisation that did that said Cook was the right kind of person, that they hadn’t considered removing the captain, and even calling him “Cookie” as if he were their son they were ever so proud of, was bound to wind up people like me. Who can’t stand that sort of thing.

It’s a shame. The press should be ashamed of themselves. The media should to. A really good England batsman has somehow got a vociferous group of people who actually loathe him, and for a time I did too. How did it come to this? We may have been at fault but I’ve never once thought that they’ve stopped and thought they might be too. So now this blog, of which I am extremely proud, that I love with all my cricketing passion, of which I wanted only to be of good things and good experiences, of indulging my love of the recreational game, the county game and especially test cricket is known by some as the “Anti-Cook Blog”. While I shouldn’t care, I do. And Cook, partly is responsible because he pretended to stand back as an honest broker, but when it came to it, when he had the chance to put his side, either he, or under instruction from the ECB bottled it. And as hard a I want to shake that off, my main memory of Cook, certainly at the end of his career is that of a Roger Federer. The more I hear the fans, the more I hear his friends in the press, then any chance I have of reconciling myself to what happened goes away. And I know that is on me.

A fellow traveller said tonight “what will we have to write about now?” I feel like I’ve scratched 10% of the itch. When he resigned as captain I wrote…

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.

I have a million things running around in my head, but to do justice to them I need a lot more time. Maybe an end of season thing beckons. But as Cook heads off into the sunset, at The Oval where I will have a dry eye on Friday, trust me, his excellent career, his records and his achievements in the game will always come with the rider that I was forced to turn on him. Events had pushed me into a box I rarely like to go. A player on my team, in a box marked “hate”. And although I am to blame, a hell of a lot of other people are too. Not that they care. Not that it matters.

It’s the longest post I’ve ever written. If you got this far, thank you.

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286 thoughts on “Sink Me In A River Of Tears – The Retirement of Alastair Cook

  1. Mark September 3, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Shinny toy being a complete tosser on five live right now.

    “He will get a Guard of honour not just from the Indians, but over Chelsea bridge.”

    Like

      • Mark September 3, 2018 / 8:36 pm

        Oh gawd we have got Gooch on now. The man who went to SA lecturing us about not just lauding Cook as a “player, but as a person.”

        I wonder if Cook would have taken the Rand hey Goochie?

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:21 pm

      Maxie’s Tweet.

      Yet people still wonder what the problem is? Yep. It is us.

      This, from the piece when he packed in captaincy…

      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.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 7:35 am

        Hell’s bells, he’s going for it with a series of tweets that are winding people up!

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:00 am

          He’s got the author of Rain Men to call KP a c*** on Facebook.

          And we are the angry ones!

          Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      Always take care in listening to the views of someone who is being paid to comment on the game. It has stood me in good stead in my blogging days.

      Like

    • Mark September 3, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      Very proud to stand with the honest, and the sane on this great blog during English crickets descent into total farce.

      Most over used phrase of today as you pointed out below…..”only 33.” They are so smug they can’t even see the irony.

      Agnew…….. “Remember, he is leaving the international game aged only 33. He will continue playing for Essex, but we thought he might still be in the England team at the age of 36, 37 and beyond.”

      And beyond? These people are shameless.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:31 pm

        He is two or so months older today than Ian Bell was when he was told his eyes had gone after a ropey series in the Emirates.

        Just saying.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark September 3, 2018 / 8:40 pm

          It’s priceless. They have no irony at all. Don’t get angry, just laugh at how ludicrous they’ve all have become.

          37 is the new 33.

          Like

          • Cricketjon September 3, 2018 / 9:28 pm

            37 is the new 33 but thankfully not #39.

            Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:57 pm

        Thanks Mark. Much appreciated. I hope the people stick with it because it does illustrate a number of different phases. I’d probably like to go into more depth about Perth 2006, because being there is so much more relevant to your own personal experiences. Cook was never pleasing to watch, but I was pleased watching him that day.

        Today was always going to be like this. We’ll get over it soon enough and move on. Like they said we should.

        Like

        • Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:18 pm

          No problem! I mean it, you should be very proud of this site,

          I don’t know how you are going to deal with the Oval. You might need a giant sick bucket.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    Jesus wept…

    If you give anyone long enough they’ll make a score sooner or later. It’s the clambering over each other to write even more sycophantic nonsense while leaving critical thinking behind that makes this what it is. Hagiography.

    Liked by 3 people

    • nonoxcol September 3, 2018 / 9:08 pm

      I’ve only got through three paragraphs and I can’t take any more. Why has that 2005 match become a thing? As I said on the Guardian today, it was a two-day, 12-a-side game, with no McGrath and no Warne, where 1,063 runs were scored for the loss of 10 wickets (9 really, Hayden retired out), and only two batsmen were dismissed for less than 59. Why would the Australians be “chastened and silent”, when they were about to play their most vital Test since Chennai 2001 if not longer? I would imagine they gave even less of a shit than they did in Melbourne in 2017.

      I suspect it’s because Cook never passed 100 in an Ashes Test in this country, and most readers are too rat-arsed on years of hagiography juice to notice the massive elision.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:13 pm

        For most of Cooks career against Australia there was no Warne and McGrath.

        Like

      • Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:31 pm

        It is funny how they are so desperate to crow bar in that innings for Essex in 2005. It was completely meaningless, but telling that they want people to know he could do it against the best.

        Shame Warne and Mcgrath didn’t play.

        Like

      • Growltiger September 4, 2018 / 3:04 pm

        Greatest run-scorer, of course, thanks to the 158 matches. But not greatest batsman. Even Hussain must know perfectly well that aggregate is not everything. So why does he come out with this drivel?

        Like

    • WHS September 13, 2018 / 9:38 pm

      If you give anyone a 50-yard boundary on one side and an opposition that haven’t won in two years they’ll not only make a score but demand to be put in the Test side on the back of it, and there’ll be plenty of sycophants who’ve left critical thinking behind baying for the same.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 15, 2018 / 11:52 am

        In that innings to which you refer the next highest contribution to that “score” was 36 by some player by the name of Kumar Sangakkara. England designate Burns made 15. Jason Roy? 27. Steve Davies, another international? 6.

        I’m really surprised that the nine dropped catches weren’t mentioned. Meanwhile, it has to be said, the County Championship, in all divisions is literally crawling with players making 355 not out.

        Like

  3. RufusSG September 3, 2018 / 8:43 pm

    Above everything else I’m impressed at how quickly you wrote this. Have you had some of these bits kicking around in your drafts for a while, or are you just that efficient?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      Half on my lunch break, half this evening. About 2 hours.

      No. Nothing in draft. I thought it might happen, because Newman was mentioning it might and wasn’t fighting back.

      I see one of those I muted, thanks Danny, has done the usual and wilfully misrepresented the post in its entirety. I’ve had a cricket blog since 2010. I wasn’t always miserable. I commented on cricket on another blog since 2007! But hey, this is a I Hate Cook blog. The man’s an idiot.

      I know people disagree, even good friends. Cool with that.

      Like

      • thelegglance September 3, 2018 / 8:53 pm

        Came that close to calling him a thick twat.

        No point.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:54 pm

          Tis what it is. Mum didn’t bequeath me a thick skin, sadly!

          Like

  4. Mark September 3, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    Agnew gushes one last time, and asks more questions than he answers…..

    “I saw Cook on Thursday evening, the first night of the fourth Test in Southampton. We had dinner and he told me of his plans.”

    Remember this the next time Agnew is arguing for transparency and openness. He knew the story on Thursday and kept silent. Why? Doesn’t sound very journalistic to me. More like protecting a mate. And then they wonder why we don’t believe a word they say, and we think they lie constantly. This is the same reporter who rushed to a microphone to joyfully announce that KP would not be coming back after his meeting with Strauss. I guess some secrets are more important to keep than others?

    And who can blame us when he writes drivel like this….

    “As people became entrenched in their views on whether Pietersen should have been discarded or not, Cook became a target of online abuse from some quarters. In a lot of cases, what was said about him was pretty outrageous.
    In that sense, Cook was the first England captain that had to put up with life in the digital, social media age. It was probably a good thing for Cook that he has never signed himself up to Twitter.”

    Pretty outrageous? What? like running a fake twitter account from the heart of the dressing room and then lying about it. Who would know? Perhaps the blokes you walk your dogs with?

    “On tour, I have been in the embarrassing situation of being on the next treadmill to Cook. While I have plodded along, he has been like the Road Runner. By the time he has finished, there is steam coming off the machine.”

    Sick bucket please. Again, sounds very Smashie and Nicey and not very journalistic, and professional.

    “And so to the The Oval, where Cook deservedly gets the chance to say goodbye and where the rest of us get to give him the send-off that his achievements warrant. His family will be watching as he takes the field in a Test for England for the 161st and final time.”

    “Cook is the finest batsman of his type that I have seen. I hope he bows out with one last big score.”

    What does this actually mean? The finest batsman you have ever seen? If so you are a fool. No, “of his type” That could mean anything.

    Liked by 3 people

    • lionel joseph September 3, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      It is good for ones blood pressure not to view Agnew as journalist. A wonderful interviewer, a great radio presence, but his analysis of the game and its players is not to be taken seriously. He is incapable of balanced criticism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:35 pm

        Believe it or not I used to actually really like Aggers. I thought he was an excellent replacement for Jonners. But like many others he has lost the plot on the whole Cook business.

        He’s not alone, most of the press went quite mad on this one issue.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherwick September 4, 2018 / 7:00 am

          Agnew was ok in the 90s.
          Nowhere near Johnner’s class though!
          Or CMJ’s!

          Like

    • Sherwick September 4, 2018 / 6:58 am

      I think that by ‘of his type’ Agnew means ‘a coward, a weasel, a betrayer of his team-mates’.
      N’est pas?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. pktroll (@pktroll) September 3, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    It’s gone well beyond a time that I can get worked up about it. I’ve always enjoyed that LCL had an eye for a stat such as Bell’s record for a long time being held up by runs v Bangladesh and how Cook’s ability to score test centuries nosedived so sharply post June 2013. These are opinions I have developed utterly in parallel to LCL, but of course it is great to come across someone who sees certain things in a similar manner to you.

    I felt so apoplectic about 2013/14 because of the idiotic fawning of a guy who had been a dreadful failure over both series and an even more dreadful captain. Him getting cut to pieces by Harris and then Johnson did lasting damage to his game I reckon. I had had a reasonable amount of liking for Cook before then, yet him leading that team left me at a point where I struggled to truly connect with them in the same way since. I had followed England to Sri Lanka, Australia and India, in times past but now I just feel disconnect. The lauding of Cook despite his declining record was only one part of it, but I can’t deny it hasn’t helped shape how I feel, That said him leaving won’t suddenly mean me breaking the bank to cross the Adam’s straight this winter.

    Thanks so much for a fine read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks pk, and much appreciated.

      I’m pretty much with you on the comments. Cook feels like he needs to be out of there to cleanse the wound, but the ECB is still the ECB and that isn’t changing. Strauss is still Strauss.

      I will say this. Cook playing county cricket is a really, really good thing. I want to applaud him for that. He doesn’t have to, but he wants to. If his heart is in it, I’ll be first on my feet to welcome it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. OscarDaBosca September 3, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    Beautiful writing. Sometimes someone who you don’t know takes nebulous thoughts you’ve had and turns them into prose that clarifies what you knew in an ephemeral way but couldn’t articulate

    Thanks, you’ve done this for me, I didn’t really get what turned me off of England and Cook, but it is all above. Thanks it was as cathartic for me to read as I am sure it was for you to write

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:05 pm

    I’m not sure who is getting most coverage, A Cook or Chris Evans from the BBC.

    Legend of the game of cricket or washed up DJ. You decide.

    Like

  8. Zephirine September 3, 2018 / 9:09 pm

    Excellent post, very well written. I have little to add because my response to Cook nowadays is just boredom, but I think the comparison with Federer is a very good one.

    Federer has a similar combination of being just good-looking enough, seeming to have a lovely life, attractive family, rich, nice manners, but in some ways quite blank. He doesn’t reveal anything of himself and it allows people to project all kinds of things onto him.

    You get this with actors, the public is convinced they know what an actor/actress is like, but they only know the parts they play, the exterior they present. I think it happens less with athletes because mostly they’re too hot and sweaty and busy throwing themselves around to present that kind of smooth exterior. But some of them do. Beckham is another.

    So I think Cook has been a sort of strange ever-emptying vessel into which all kinds of middle-aged yearnings have been poured by journalists who really should have more dignity. I have no idea what he’s really like. He might be nice, he might not. My guess is not.

    Anyway he can have a lovely time now with the other retired mafiosi in Chelmsford. If only he could persuade Flower to join him there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 9:16 pm

      Thank you Z. Much appreciated. Reading it back I’m still not sure about it. Which is a good thing.

      I had a couple of mates go to Chelmsford and he posed with their wives and chatted away as the game went on. They all said how nice he was. Fine. Did that make what happened 4 years ago any better for me? No. The thought that we should get peeved at the way a very good England player was treated when he left and then force fed today and told to accept it rankles. It just does. I hope the piece captures the reasons why, and the background to it all.

      My Federer thing is exacerbated by this Indian Summer in his career. These things don’t happen in endurance sport. Not often. I think you might know what I’m hinting at.

      Like

      • Zephirine September 3, 2018 / 9:25 pm

        Yes, I don’t really know about tennis but it wouldn’t surprise me if things were going on. But then, sometimes it wouldn’t surprise me if cricket was massively fixed. One becomes cynical.

        Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:03 am

            Hmmmm. I’m not saying there are signs or the Spanish court ordered the destruction of sport stars blood samples…..

            Like

          • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:39 am

            They always say there are no drugs in football, because they assume that all drugs are about just building muscle mass. But they forget modern drugs can increase stamina and work rate. Exactly what you need for particularly mid field players.

            I remember about 25 years ago noticing how players could last the whole game at a much faster pace. I. Believe there was a big drug scandal at a big Italian club. But it was all brushed away as we were told it was a “one off”….hmmm,

            Like

    • Grenville September 4, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      This is a brilliant analysis. Do you think it works both ways? I, unfortunately, do hate Cook. I think it might be the result of pouring some middle aged spleen into the empty vessel.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Elaine Simpson-Long September 3, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    I don’t think I shall be watching the final Test as I think I may feel nauseous

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 9:12 pm

      It’s my first test back at The Oval in six years! Oh Lordy!

      Like

      • Sean September 3, 2018 / 9:16 pm

        If you don’t rock up in a KP shirt, then you’re doing it wrong 😅.

        Seriously though, brilliant piece.

        Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance September 3, 2018 / 9:23 pm

            Happy to buy you one if you promise to wear it!

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 9:26 pm

            On an unrelated topic, blogging, especially writing long pieces, is self-indulgent.

            I never knew.

            Did they think I write to please an audience. I write what I want! I’m not paid for this….

            I’ll never understand,

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean September 3, 2018 / 10:15 pm

            Not catering for the masses, I always said that was your problem 😂😂

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 10:18 pm

            The Raiders. Oh man. Oh man.

            We’ve not done a bad job tonight. Judging by traffic.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean September 3, 2018 / 10:21 pm

            I’ve been celebrating all weekend…

            Like

          • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 5:00 am

            All these years, and I still have no idea what you two are on about.

            Like

          • Sean September 3, 2018 / 9:25 pm

            We’ll club together, maybe even get you an IPL one, just to build the irony…

            Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine September 3, 2018 / 9:17 pm

        I’m thinking about what’s Kohli going to do. He doesn’t like not being the focus of attention…..

        Liked by 1 person

    • Julie Gould September 4, 2018 / 6:46 am

      Elaine, someone is using your twitter account and when I try to warn you on twitter my account just gets cancelled. “boredpanda.fun” is also using KP’s twitter account. It really is me Julie. Didn’t know how else to warn you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TheVickster September 5, 2018 / 12:10 pm

        I was wondering what was happening with his account. It seems normal during the day then is just full of this Bored Panda stuff at night when he would clearly be asleep. Odd.

        Like

  10. lionel joseph September 3, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    A good piece.

    A little unforgiving, but closer to the truth that all the witless eulogising we are being subjected to.

    I would like to explore the comments being made about his character, about what a great man he is. Three things strike me:

    The first was his inability to understand that you can captain a side poorly and still win. Victory was always used as a justification for his reasoning. This is flagrant self-denial and an inability to take criticism.

    The second were the vain, bitter and wholly unnecssary comments he made after England’s world cup shambles, suggesting the side would have been better with him at the helm. This demonstrated a startling lack of self-awareness of his own shortcomings.

    The third is the timing of his retirement and the comments he made today about having nothing in the tank. Given his form, he has no right to be playing this final test if he has gone publicly on record as stating he can no longer find the necessary motivation. And yet his comments, and his intention to retire[i] after [/i] the Oval, suggest a belief that he will be picked. On what grounds exactly I ask myself? That he deserves a swansong in a dead rubber? Is that a thing? Can we recall Trott and KP and Bell and Harmison and Hoggard and Trescothick as well? They never got a send-off. I’d say they deserve one too. The timing and the comments, and the expectation that he plays are the actions of a vain man.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zephirine September 3, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      Yes, I’ve always thought Cook is vain. It’s led him to keep up a fantastic level of fitness, of course.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 9:22 pm

      Thanks Lionel. Probably don’t have much room to forgive right now. Today exemplifies it.

      I’m not as harsh on the farewell bit. Always was going to happen. Alec Stewart did the same. We can’t all go out like Nasser! I’m also more forgiving on the World Cup comments now. That hurt him and the ECB (Downton) handled it terribly. But he genuinely felt all that year that the press were out to get him (2014). It’s odd, perception.

      Nice to hear from you again, LJ.

      Like

    • nonoxcol September 3, 2018 / 9:28 pm

      I think one of my biggest problems with the whole 2014 thing was being asked to buy the preposterous idea that a high-achieving elite sportsman *somehow* had no ego, no vanity, no selfishness, while the other guy was (oh how convenient) an irredeemable pissant.

      There is no way whatsoever this wasn’t deliberately pushed in the most blatant, obvious way. Most readers grew out of this way of looking at human beings roughly when they stopped watching cartoons, and I don’t think the pushers liked it very much when they were called out on their two-dimensional pen portraits of living human beings. I don’t think Cook liked it very much either. On several occasions in 2014/15 he responded to criticism like a petulant child, no more creditable or likable than the most egregious parts of SABMOB’s autobiography. The dauphin, as I called him.

      Unfortunately the pushers proceeded to learn absolutely fuck all from 2014, so we are where we are.

      Like

  11. Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:16 pm

    Funny how we are told that Cook is completely selfless and puts the team first. Perhaps then we should be using the Oval test to find a new opener? Instead of an episode of Love Island.

    Like

  12. Volkerelle September 3, 2018 / 9:22 pm

    Proud to be outside cricket. Nuf said.

    Like

  13. Cricketjon September 3, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    “Six inches of carry”

    Like

  14. BoredInAustria September 3, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    Classic LCL. Thank you.

    A good batsmen, fully exposed by being promoted to captain the side that put him in a situation that brought out the worst in him. The way he then seemed to enjoy playing the corporate game (and do not forget the financial perks that came with the captaincy) and how he lost all perspective on himself. I said many years ago Cook was also a victim of the ECB monster. Only I have no pity for him.

    Only a few more left. And Flower.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol September 3, 2018 / 9:55 pm

      Flower has now been with the for 11 years and 4 months.

      Like

      • nonoxcol September 3, 2018 / 9:58 pm

        With the ECB.

        If he’s still with them at the turn of the decade that will be longer than Cook’s complete Test career.

        Makes you think: what does he have to do to get dropped? His lean spell has been much longer than Cook’s.

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      Thanks BIA, and hope all is well – you know I’ve moved on to other things in my workplace now!

      There’s so much more to write, and genuinely feel like I’ve scratched the surface. The corporate aspects are absolutely in play – losing the ODI captaincy was a decently sized pay-cut if the accounts were to be believed. He liked a sponsorship gig or two. Nothing wrong with that.

      Like

      • BoredInAustria September 3, 2018 / 10:54 pm

        I know – We are still fighting for Z.. hope we will get there

        I feel you might just find your mojo again!

        Like

  15. Rohan September 3, 2018 / 9:51 pm

    Yes Dmitri, yes!

    I loved 2010/11 in Aus, special memories for me. My daughter had just been born (first child) and I was off work for 4 weeks, encapsulating Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. I stayed up with the baby and watched every hour I could not believe it, victory in Aus at last, what an emotionally excellent period in my life.

    I loved what England were doing, I loved how Cook was batting, I loved Tremlett and Bresnan coming in and bowling like demons, Collingwood getting the crucial Hussey wicket. Yet, a few years later in 2013 it all changed so dramatically, I really started to dislike Cook, how can that happen, well I think Dmitri sums it up perfectly here “How much Cook was responsible for this we’ll never find out. Do I put all the blame on him? No. Do I absolve him as a mere innocent bystander in the way of a maelstron? No.” He played the innocent bystander role, but he was blatantly not. He promised to tell us his side and never did. He has a lot to answer for.

    Shame as I would like to recognise those great batting series he had, but it’s hard to ignore the multiple elephants in the room, from the difficult winter to the 95 at Southampton. The greatest shame though? That it has torn fans apart and adversely affected English cricket for many years.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Mark September 3, 2018 / 9:57 pm

    On the middle years and the myths…….

    On five live tonight Andy Flower admitted Cook would not have been dropped if he hadn’t scored that hundred against Pakistan at the Oval.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 9:58 pm

      That’s absolutely no secret at all. Yet the myth goes on. Bob Willis mentioned it on The Debate this week.

      To be clear, he had three test hundreds in the preceding 8 months, two as captain.

      Like

      • Mark September 3, 2018 / 10:14 pm

        It’s why I don’t take them seriously. They lost their minds over this one player, and I still don’t really know why? All sense of impartiality went out of the window. And they still don’t see it. Not one inch will they give.

        He never made a test hundred in an Ashes in England I believe. This is never acknowledged. At Perth in 2010/11 when Mitchell Johnson played he failed, just like he failed all through 2013/2014.

        A flat track bully! A bit harsh for someone who scored some great innings. But he wasn’t Viv Richards or Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting or Sachin. He really wasn’t.

        Like

  17. oreston September 3, 2018 / 10:13 pm

    A great read, Sir. Highly personal as ever, yet unlike your (and this blog’s) detractors at least you’re totally transparent about your personal biases and construct consistent, properly argued positions around them. So the “highly personal” comment is an observation but not in any way a criticism – as I hope you would realise anyway. It’s an approach to blogging that serves you well and gives you an edge and a level of integrity that few writing about cricket can match.
    Besides all that, this is an incredibly well structured, almost Citizen Kane like tear down of one man’s career. So what is Cook’s “Rosebud” ? Will he ever tell us? Maybe, but he’d probably articulate it so incoherently that we’d be none the wiser. I absolutely concur with you about him wanting to play in the CC for Essex. It’s absolutely the best thing he could still do for a game in jeopardy which, whatever you think of him, he clearly loves. Of course the fact that it will reduce the temptation and opportunity for him to go anywhere near a commentary box is merely an added bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 3, 2018 / 10:17 pm

      And we’ve solved your comment issue. For now. What a day!

      Thanks for the comment. Blogging is highly personal and done because you enjoy it. Sometimes enjoyment takes some very strange forms. What my detractors have never got over is that for someone who is supposedly attention seeking, I’m not seeking attention!

      I admit at times that my emotions aren’t always logical or consistent. Nor should they be. Do I have the same rage as 2014? Nowhere near for Cook. But there are some out there that so cheese me off, it isn’t good. I sometimes wish they would admit I have a point, but what would it matter?

      Like

    • Rooto September 4, 2018 / 10:30 am

      The triptych: going up, at the top, decline. For me this magnum opus is a “Revolution in the Head” for Cook’s career. And I mean that as a big compliment. Excellent piece.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 10:35 am

        Possibly still the greatest non-fiction book I have ever read (23 years after first reading it), in spite of vehemently disagreeing on ‘Helter Skelter’ and a few others. The introductory essay alone is worth the price; it’s also even more obvious now that he was right.

        Nice reference!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rooto September 4, 2018 / 12:15 pm

          Yes. I don’t own it, but -20 years after getting it out of a library – it’s still memorable for the ideas and the quality of the argument. I loved it. Have never really read much rock criticism since for fear of other books suffering in comparison!

          Like

          • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 12:22 pm

            I’ve got all three editions (they were updated for Anthology stuff)!

            There’s a Smiths one that was deliberately modelled on RITH. Enjoyed it, but I have gone right off the lead singer in recent years, and not as keen on the songs since my breakdown. Prefer happier stuff!

            Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 11:06 am

        Many thanks Rooto. Although I’m not a non-fiction reader!

        I find when you present a case from both sides, admit your own faults (which I do) and seek understanding from others you can do no more. I have a position, try to persuade me with evidence and facts, not blandishments. I like MD Payne and Rufus on here questioning me, because we don’t need to be an echo chamber. Cook played some excellent innings, Durban, Lord’s v NZ, Brisbane, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Sydney come readily to my mind, many because they created the first win of the series, or sent important messages, played inspiring roles. That all but one of those came before the schism speaks volumes – massive scores on dead tracks are nice, not many can do them, but don’t win games, and the one v WIndies was not one for the ages due to moderate oppo (in my opinion). You have to try to be fair within your own “interpretation”.

        Any criticism thus far has been at me, rather than the piece. Most critics won’t read it. Their choice.

        Like

        • Rooto September 4, 2018 / 12:20 pm

          I’m not on twitter, so don’t see much of the general zeitgeist. It appears from what gets picked up here that others could do with a drop of what you have – brutal honesty about yourself. Cheers, and thanks for the enjoyment* that all 4 of you provide.

          * Maybe an odd moment to mention enjoyment, but it’s still just as true.

          Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 12:41 pm

            You can guarantee that those who take what they want will fixate on the “hate” angle. Hate is not the best word, but there were times when I was extremely conflicted with England post KP.

            The bits I’m seeing are if you mention flaws, you are disloyal, a hater, a nitpicker, never satisfied. And worse, you know nothing about the game. I love that one. I want no part of that. Defend his record by all means. Fine by me.

            Like

    • oreston September 3, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      At least Bumble’s mildly criticising Cook for selfishly wanting a farewell test and noting that this means throwing his replacement in at the deep end in Sri Lanka. Behind it all though is still the notion that it’s in Alastair’s choosing when and where he retires. Neither the selectors nor anyone else is granted agency to determine the timing and manner of his departure – and if it’s a decision that has consequences for others then (as loyal subjects) they must obey despite their private reservations. Cook’s a professional sportsman, for heaven’s sake, not the Dalai Lama or Tsar of all the Russias.

      Liked by 2 people

      • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 4:59 am

        This bit fascinates me. Barely anyone has had the nerve to suggest a farewell appearance is not necessarily the right thing.

        Personally it doesn’t bother me overly – bringing someone in for one Test is neither here nor there, but it’s a perfectly legitimate argument. You’d think someone had shot Bambi the way it’s been regarded.

        Liked by 3 people

        • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 7:28 am

          “You’d think someone had shot Bambi”

          I assume this was a deliberate reference to the “photoshopped” picture!

          Liked by 1 person

          • oreston September 4, 2018 / 7:32 am

            Oh deer, oh deer…

            Liked by 1 person

        • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:31 am

          The media talk endlessly about how players must put the team first. The never stop banging on about it. Nasser talks about the team above the individual. And then when it comes to Cook they completely lose their minds.

          Bumble is at least being old school about it. Cook doesn’t just get to choose his leaving date, he doesn’t just get a lap of honour, but by the sound of what they are going to turn the Oval Test into……… he gets a Royal wedding, A state funeral, and The opening of Parliament all at once.

          Remember this the next time they demand a player put the team first. Then point, and laugh at them.

          Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas September 4, 2018 / 12:49 am

      What ever happened to the good old days when a player just quietly retired at the end of the season? I hate it when a player announces that he will retire at the end of the season or after a certain match. Its almost as if he is saying to the selectors “you can’t drop me now”.

      I have no idea what Cook is like as a man and I don’t really care. I will miss him as a player but I will also remember him as a played who probably should have retired earlier than he did (which puts him in good company).

      Like

  18. Glenn September 3, 2018 / 11:14 pm

    I thought he’d carry on to the Ashes, especially as the 20 other England openers tried in the last two years have been awful. Maybe he was embarrassed by his lack of runs.

    I did not see much of him batting live as he made his debut after Sky bought all the cricket so it wasn’t on tv.

    Like

    • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 4:58 am

      I daresay that was his hope. “Nothing in the tank” seems to me more a recognition of reality than a planned exit.

      Like

  19. Benny September 3, 2018 / 11:43 pm

    Superb article Dmitri. It’s reasoned, logical, factual and honest. Just what a good blog should do. I’m aware that there is the occasional criticism of what is posted here but a wise man said you can’t please all of the people all of the time. As we know there are some real idiots out there. Self obsessed. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you and I must have missed that trait.

    I thought Cook started well and his partnership with Strauss was excellent. However, in the past couple of years, I’ve been tempted to take up betting and find out what the bookies will offer for Cook scoring under 30 in each innings. If I’d pursued it, I’d be posting this from my yacht.

    Like

    • Narelle September 4, 2018 / 4:03 am

      My greatest fun in the last few years was having a bet on how many he would score. being in Oz I even tried to stay awake till he got out. so I have to say, most nights he was out by 9 – 9.30pm and I was delighted.

      Shock horror but someone mentioned him on taking up commentary. Er….aghhh…umm….please never. KP mastered here but Cooky never will

      Dimitri I don’t always comment but I read every one of the various bloggers on here and love it. I hope you have found your mojo again to stick it to the ECB…..county championship is so disjointed and that 100 things is just ridiculous.

      just explain how you , the Legglance, Mark, Sean and Danny can all write so well and the British press employ one eyed, biased morons who faun on the likes of Cooky, Jimmy….vomit….Stokes and Broad.

      keep up the good work boys!!!

      Like

      • Sherwick September 4, 2018 / 7:15 am

        Stokesy and Broady*

        Like

    • dannycricket September 4, 2018 / 6:45 am

      I checked, the over/under for Cook’s first innings is 23.5. I think it’s fair to say the bookies don’t have much faith that Cook will have a finale to remember…

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 6:52 am

        I see Federer lost in the US Open. To the world #53.

        Spooky.

        Like

        • dannycricket September 4, 2018 / 6:53 am

          Have you bought a lottery ticket, just in case?

          Like

        • Elaine Simpson-Long September 4, 2018 / 7:47 am

          Callo callay o frabjous day
          I like Federer as much as I like Cook
          Which is, not at all

          Like

  20. Julie Gould September 3, 2018 / 11:55 pm

    Thank you, Dmitri, you have said all I feel but find difficult to express. All I feel at the moment is anger and a little hate which I would rather not feel.Love cricket, love your blogs, love KP, and don’t want hate to intervene.

    Like

  21. TheVickster September 4, 2018 / 12:41 am

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For putting down on paper/screen everything I have felt about Cook since the beginning.

    Like you I was impressed by him in 2010/11 but that enthusiasm for him soon tailed off once the media went overboard with their praise. I always knew he’d be a dull captain. He was promoted as the face fit rather than through any aptitude for the job.

    I won’t be reading any of the nauseating eulogies. I may read what George has to say as he’s usually fair but I’ll ignore the rest. He should’ve been dropped series ago, let alone being granted a divine right swan song. and he has been a big part of England’s issues at the top of the order with the endless procession of openers trying to work with him and struggling. I cannot believe that 10-15 openers all had problems yet he was innocent down the other end.

    Unfortunately the real concern I have I is that the is not the end but only the end of the beginning. As he’s a big part of the Essex/Strauss/ECB love in, I fully expect him to be promoted in a few months once the farm life bores him, to one of the England jobs for the boys, where he will soon be dictating the future of English cricket. I fear we have not seen the last of this saga and this time it will have longer reaching consequences for English cricket. 😔😡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Growltiger September 4, 2018 / 3:17 pm

      How can someone be employed to dictate the future of cricket when he doesn’t seem able to string two thoughts together?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:25 pm

        I don’t know, I think he’ll go into coaching. No reason to think why, just think he will. But surely must be tempting after all that time being on the road just to relax with the family etc.

        Like

  22. ArushaTZ September 4, 2018 / 2:02 am

    Just wanted to say, this is a brilliant piece of writing. Upon reading it, I realise how much your passionate contribution adds to this blog.
    As we wave St. Alastair off into sunset, are we doing the same to the long-form Dmitri/LCL post? Will any subject stir the blood in the same way again?

    Like

    • BoredInAustria September 4, 2018 / 9:28 am

      Andy Flower?

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Miami Dad's 6 September 4, 2018 / 6:20 am

    Balance and bias is interesting. Whilst many seem to have reacted negatively to this, I actually think you’ve skipped far too many of the awful, truly awful, embarrassing days England had in the field under Captain Cook. The ODI stuff was painful compared to glorious under Morgan, I do hope we don’t bottle it next summer. And for a man obsessed with records, it’s worth pointing out we lost more Tests with Cook as captain than under anyone else, whadda guy.

    Other than that – bloody exceptional stuff..!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. OscarDaBosca September 4, 2018 / 6:55 am

    So among the Times gems this morning is Alistair’s stats.

    No mention of his average at all, anywhere. Now I know averages aren’t everything but as a young boy growing up, getting into cricket your batting average was what’s now called a KPI (key performance indicator)

    They show his average over a histogram against his runs (but with no comparison to any English batsmen), they show most test runs, most centuries and a few other mainly meaningless stats.

    What they don’t do is compare him to any other English batsmen where he won’t be top (so they show most centuries, most captained games, most matches), so you don’t see win loss ratio, centuries per matches played or anything that is meaningful.

    Bet they had fun compiling that last night

    Like

    • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:21 am

      This goes the heart of the problem , and the media won’t aknowledege it. They refuse to admit he is treated differently.

      In many ways this whole mess is a media one rather than it’s Cook’s. If I was him I would be deeply embarrassed by some of this media coverage. But he doesn’t seem to do anything to get them tone is down a bit. Perhaps he can’t, but he does seem matey with a lot of the media. How do I know? Because the media keep boasting that he is their friend.

      Like

    • mdpayne87 September 4, 2018 / 8:46 am

      On the other side of the coin, haven’t heard much mention of his great average in Asia. Guess people choose the stats to fit their argument. Twas ever thus.

      Like

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 9:17 am

        Funny how there is no mention of how he never made an Ashes hundred in England. Or KP has a better average, or how 33 is now viewed as young.

        Yes, you are right…… stats are so biased. But the bias of the English cricket media always runs one way…….always with Cook.

        Like

  25. Elaine Simpson-Long September 4, 2018 / 7:50 am

    Kevin Pietersen: 104 Tests, 10 MoM awards, Avg: 47.
    Alastair Cook: 160 Tests, 8 MoM awards, Avg: 44.

    I will never forgive him for his spineless behaviour when KP was sacked and made the fall guy for a disastrous Ashes tour. I expect now he does not have to keep his job he will write a book

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:05 am

      I hope my piece didn’t denigrate his runs but put some of the barren spells into perspective. He’s been duff for about three years. By his standards.

      I think the best antidote to this is when these experts when asked by the cricketer to name their greatest ever England batsman didn’t have, I believe, Cook cracking the top 10.

      Like

      • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 8:14 am

        Yes , but “pretty decent overall” is now anti-Cook you know.

        Like

        • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:45 am

          But they never call themselves pro Cook do they? They smugly pretend they are straight shooters of honest reporting.

          And then we are supposed to take their word for what constitutes a “good bloke.”

          I think some of them are now itching to get stuck into the team now Cook has gone, and they try to claim they are real pundits and critics again. If I were Root I would get a tin hat. He’s going to need it.

          Liked by 1 person

  26. nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 8:17 am

    How Cook compares to others opening against the swinging Dukes ball in grey, overcast conditions (every time?) since 1980:

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?batting_positionmax1=2;batting_positionval1=batting_position;class=1;filter=advanced;home_or_away=1;orderby=batting_average;spanmin1=1+Jan+1980;spanval1=span;team=1;template=results;type=batting

    Ignore the hilarious outlier at no.2; I couldn’t be bothered filtering by number of matches played.

    I found the most interesting comparison was with the man immediately (almost exactly one run) below him. Look at that “balls faced” column in conjunction with total matches, look at the number of fifties and hundreds in conjunction with total matches and consider who *he* was opening against between 1990 and 2001.

    Not many people are going to want to point out that narrow gap, are they?

    Like

  27. Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 9:21 am

    There’s alot of discussion around the runs he scored, how easy/hard they were, whether he’s a “great” or not, whatever that is, whether he’s the best Englishman etc. But what this post did for me was provide a nice summary and reminder not just of the batting perfomance, but his role in the team and the sport.

    It was a turbulent and unpleasant time in English cricket: the team developing a reputation for dull cricket coupled with borish petulance, Flower’s intensity starting to grate, Giles Clark imposing a commercial agenda, the Big Three heist, the Stanford debacle (money helicoptered into Lords), and KP’s isolation and eventual sacking. And all the while, Associate countries were getting screwed, and Test cricket was being de-prioritsed. Selvey didn’t single handedly drag the Guardian down, but he was the biggest single reason for the decline of the cricket coverage there, with his relentless biases, and graceless disdain for those he saw as below him. It changed from a lighthearted, informed and good natured discussion forum to a cesspit of aggresive attitudes and agendas.

    Where does Cook fit into all this? He was only the Captain, not the supreme being so it’s hardly his fault, but he was certainly in a leadership position through all this, and didn’t seem to react in any way. I’m sure it was clear to him that he had the support of the establishment, but that didn’t embolden him to speak out. He put his head down and scored runs, and that’s more than many can do, but it’s all he did. He was passive as him team collapsed around him, the 13/14 Ashes the lowest point for English cricket I have ever seen, the sport shrunk in public awareness, and England seemed to burn out or discard player after player.

    I will always remember him as someone who can grind out the runs pretty well (although the closer analysis shows the very significant qualifications that need to be made, with longevity and a busy calendar probably being his greatest assets) but who was passive and submissive when his sport needed leadership.

    Liked by 5 people

    • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 9:31 am

      Great post.

      Those qualifications are, of course, no different to the ones pushed from on high when SABMOB’s Test career finished, which are still being regurgitated to this day.

      Except for one key thing: it’s only the likes of us that bother when it comes to Cook.

      PS – Try not to piss yourself laughing:

      Karma is a bitch.

      Liked by 3 people

      • BoredInAustria September 4, 2018 / 9:45 am

        Insulting. Really. Cook was only 5 wickets away from equaling Selvey’s Test Wicket tally.

        That is of course due to the fact that in his last 2 tests “he failed to take a single wicket in either of them, in part due to Alan Knott dropping a routine chance from Roy Fredericks”.

        I always love reading his Wiki-entry

        Like

      • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 9:47 am

        Don’t worry Mike, they’re not good enough for Ali. They’re only making themselves look small when they say things like that. They have no dignity. Fret not, you’ll always have that beer you shared together in the dressing room when you got fired.

        I tried not to piss myself laughing. I failed, toilet break needed.

        The little accidental snippet above is intriguing too. Imran Khan is the former brother in law of Zac Goldsmith? WTF? What a strange world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 9:56 am

        It is a mental illness I’m telling you?

        These people are mad, quite mad. You will clap louder, you will CLAP LOUDER I SAY!

        Selvey doesn’t understand that most people in England have never heard of Cook. They wouldn’t recognise him if they saw him in the street.

        Chris Evans is getting more airplay.

        Like

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 9:56 am

        This is officially the greatest tweet ever………..

        It’s made my year! Ha ha ha

        Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 10:55 am

        I’ve never got, after the ECB basically told BBC TV and C4 to go f*** themselves why it was BBC’s responsibility to promote the game. The ECB reduced it to a niche sport, not BBC. Selvey misses no opportunity to dig at the Beeb, who dismissed him remember, but why should they bother? It’s the ECB’s fault Cook is a footnote.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 10:57 am

          Because it’s an easy argument to make. It’s also nonsense. The BBC “weren’t interested” in the same way that Ferrari dealers can claim I’m not interested. What’s the point me going there and offering to trade in my Mazda?

          So I’m “not interested” despite one being available.

          Like

          • dannycricket September 4, 2018 / 11:30 am

            I think, in fairness, that the BBC genuinely wouldn’t be interested in Test cricket. They only have 2 general daytime channels, and devoting 30+ days of one of them for 7.5 hours a day for what is a niche sport really isn’t justifiable for them, even if it was free. The other TV companies could shuffle it away on ITV4, More4, Spike, Dave or Pick without disrupting their main sources of income, if it had to be on Freeview.

            Like

          • thelegglance September 4, 2018 / 11:41 am

            It doesn’t even get that far. They don’t even consider whether they’d like it or not, whether they could fit it or not – there’s no point. Same reason Channel 4 haven’t bothered since either.

            Like

          • Badger September 5, 2018 / 10:23 pm

            That’s not quite right though as they have an entirely online channel in the form of bbc 3 and the ability to create as many more as they could possibly need as well as all the options provided by “the red button”

            Like

          • dannycricket September 6, 2018 / 6:37 am

            So you think English cricket would be happy for its flagship product to be hidden away on the red button or an online stream? That’s far less visible than other Freeview channels because it wouldn’t be on the EPG, which would defeat the whole object.

            Like

    • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 9:39 am

      Excellent post, Fred, really sums it up. There are still too many unanswered questions from that era. What about poor Trott? How can somebody get to such a bad state and nobody helps or even, apparently, notices? How much were Anderson, Broad and Swann bossing the dressing-room? What’s a captain for if he can’t handle those situations?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 9:56 am

        Yeah, once I started to think about those times again, I realised what an endless list there was of problems. Trott’s situation was really sad, I have no doubt it was made worse by ECB mismanagement. Prior bragging to Indian players he drives a Porsche. The sprinkler dance.

        Root’s comments after the last test pretty much confirm what people have been saying, Broad and Anderson do whatever they want. Root is pleased that he’s now able, after they’ve failed, to give them some suggestions. Real progress.

        Like

    • northernlight71 September 4, 2018 / 9:50 am

      That’s a perfect summing up of a mini-era there, Fred. Are you really Australian?
      🙂

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 11:47 am

        Well I always enjoy this, does that make me Australian?

        Like

        • man in a barrel September 5, 2018 / 1:34 pm

          Maybe it’s just me but in the last few years the sight of Cookie missing a perfectly straight ball without many runs to his name has cheered up many a day

          Like

    • quebecer September 4, 2018 / 6:21 pm

      There you go. I know it’s your favourite, so a little reward for an excellent post.

      That moment you point to, where “He was passive as him team collapsed around him”, THAT is the thing about Cook that I can never forget or forgive.

      He was the captain and on the field his team was humiliating itself, English cricket, and all who followed it. That moment where we were experiencing that strange absolute catastrophic collapse of performance that can suddenly affect people – a collective attack of the yips, if you like – and Pietersen was banished to long leg and Cook just stood there, allowing it all to unfold.

      It was the worst example of leadership I’ve ever seen, and I can never forgive it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 7:52 pm

        The Melbourne no Cook fans talk about. The only game in which we had a sniff (thanks to SABMOB mainly) and he delivered that on day four in the field. E.g. bowling Root before Panesar…..twice.

        Like

      • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 8:40 pm

        Why thank you! Although 10 minutes is not long enough to do justice to the whole Perth Test. Probably would be OK for the Sydney Test though.

        In retrospect, I probably wasn’t hard enough on the whole leadership failure aspect. I stepped carefully because I was very aware that the power of cricket captains is somewhat limited, and you can’t blame Cook for Giles, Stanford, global cricket administration etc., in the same way you can’t blame Steve Smith entirely for the ball tampering business, it was the end result of a broader culture and strategy (I think, unless it was a one-off rogue operation, which seems unlikely.). But you can blame him for out of control bullies, team playing style, and the utter mismanagement of the ending of KP’s career. For example, when Australia went though it’s little Micky Arthur crisis, Clarke had plenty to say, that’s what real captains do.

        In terms of runs scored, he was good, very good, or great, depending on your inclination, preferences, and your knowledge of actual facts, and I’m not so interested in that aspect. But I think in many ways his leader ship (or lack thereof) have been just as impactful on English cricket as his runs. Glad you picked out that sentence, because that was the key. Who wouldn’t have traded Cook for Hussein during that period?

        I initially disliked KP for his stupid skunk haircut, his brashness, and for being an English ring-in (and to be honest, for scoring 158 runs in 2005 at the Oval, and managing to get dropped by Warne along the way). I’ve ended up accepting he was English, admiring his work ethic and commitment to cricket, and finally utterly regretting that I didn’t get to see more of him shredding attacks as only he could for England. Thanks Cook, great job. It’s not all about KP, but that was his signature failure.

        In fact, as others have noted, LCL’s post was excellent in drawing out this leadership aspect. Discussions about whether he’s “great”, or better than Hobbs, are tedious, but discussions about what he did for English cricket are very informative, and might help move the local game forward. People are calling him an ambassador for the sport, for gods sake.

        It’s gonna be tough for you, you won’t be able to critique him for falling over to off and failing to keep his head over the ball (yes I do read your analyses). Turn your attention to Jennings, he’s gonna need all the help he can get.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:44 pm

          DPF,

          Thanks for the comments on this thread, really appreciated an outside England view. As I’ve said in other comments, he will have to say something about it at some time. Will he admit Flower grew to be a tyrant – something I’ve heard from others closer to the scene – and that in doing so he couldn’t be the leader he wanted to be, and when he could, he found himself out in front as the ECB’s “right kind of person”. The comparison with Clarke is appropriate. I’d look to someone like Graeme Smith too.

          Like

        • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 8:55 pm

          Ah, Clarke. That reminds me: during what we must now call the Cook’s Redemption series, our old self-parodying friend wrote several very snide things about Clarke in his reports and columns.

          One was left to wonder: exactly why was Alastair Cook’s 2014 harder, more deserving of sympathy and understanding than Michael Clarke’s? Why was “trial by social media” and shocking form worse than the death of a friend and teammate?

          I drew my own conclusions.

          Like

        • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 9:40 pm

          Yes, Smith, absolutely, and also various captains of SL, Pakistan and WI, who have had to cope with far worse than a snotty fast bowler and a gobby wicketkeeper. Jason Holder handles himself with dignity. The whole pushup thing with Pakistan? Now THAT’S a team.
          I doubt Cook will ever spill the beans.

          Nonoxcol, I took it as par for the course, as his duty to be snide regarding Clarke. I expected nothing else from him.
          Clarke was imperfect as a leader in many ways, but you’d never mistake him for part of the furniture.

          But, although I was already finding Agnew boring and had long given up on TMS, him drawing a connection between the Hughes tragedy and Clarke’s spirit of cricket/sledging position made me furious. I don’t normally get furious about cricket matters. Apparently what happened was supposed to make Clarke stop swearing and drop the Australian aggressive way. I found it utterly despicable to attempt to use Hughes like that, and have not a second’s time for him following that comment. The whole bunch of them a chattering ratings-whores, and Agnew went as low as you can go.

          Liked by 1 person

        • quebecer September 6, 2018 / 2:06 am

          Thought I might take a minute to write a proper post.

          Up the thread, Fred pointed out how I would miss going on about Cook’s balance point behind behind his hips when playing forward, or his tendency to fall over to off, but Cook’s constant work on dealing with those technical issues is one of the things I admire about him most. We forget the bad times he had, only recalling the successful results of the work he put in to combat his inherent technical weaknesses. People also point to his success in India but again, he made that happen: he only had two scoring shots off spinners, after all, the cut and the sweep – and he had to teach himself to sweep. I respect that.

          Also, as people talk about his possible vanity, again I admire anyone who has it in them to rise to the top of their sport, and fully accept that the drive to be the best must surely be influenced by some less than favourable qualities when judged by normal standards. But just as I would always reply to criticisms of KP with “Elite sportsman in apparent arrogance shock!”, I’m all for giving Cook the same treatment. Cook is a bit weird, and this thread has explored that, but you have to be to succeed as he (or KP) did.

          Also interesting on this thread are the different positions taken by Silk and REDRUM106 in terms of his behaviour (and their judgement of it) throughout the KP saga. Silk surely has a point that the horrific political machinations of the time surely could not have originated from Cook, and I must admit, I can imagine a scenario where Cook as Captain (and also because of the person he is) thought it almost a duty to do what the coach and the ECB wanted. Also, he too must have been sick Pietersen banging on about how we were getting it all wrong down under (regardless of it being correct) and all in all, may well have just gone with his natural inclination and stood there like he did on the field in Perth as everything collapsed around him. However, I can also see why REDRUM106 isn’t buying it.

          Personally, I think there is too much that is unknowable about that while thing – except that we were right at the time: it very quickly became clear that the situation wasn’t about KP, but was about how our game was run. Cook was put in particular positions by the ECB at the time and it made him look very, very bad. They just wouldn’t shut up, and Cook was left standing there looking more and more stupid and culpable. For me the question is how much to sympathize, and the answer is really not very much at all. You’re the captain, you’re a big boy, you made your bed etc.

          However, I personally do not in feel he was one of the architects of that situation, but rather misguided within it, not very bright, and wrong.

          As for his runs, I think there is a difference between getting runs in difficult conditions, and getting the kinds of runs he did. At his best – and Think what he was best at – was getting runs when he SHOULD get them. What I mean by that would be perfectly exemplified by the monster ton in Brisbane in the second inning. it was a flat track (very flat) with no movement in the air, a decent but not frightening pace attack, and no spinner. Objectively, this is the time when your premier bat does go and get those runs. The point is, of course, that it’s far easier said than done, and that’s why most of the time people don’t, but Cook was excellent in those situations.

          I will never, ever forgive him for the total breakdown of our team on the field in that Ashes series, because on the field in that moment it was wholly and completely his responsibility, and it humiliated us all. However, when conditions dictated it was time to bat for a day and a half – no matter which day of the test, or which test of the series – that’s when Cook could be considered to have been one of the best around.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Grenville September 6, 2018 / 2:15 pm

            I can’t like a comment, so here is a gratuitous, ‘I really like this comment’. I suspect that Cook did want KP out. The rest of the Essex crew clearly did. Strauss must have had an influence on Cook even then and he hates KP. J also suspect that Cook is self deluded enough (a useful quality in an elite cricketer) to think that his inability to captain the team was Pietersen’s fault. Just a guess.

            Like

  28. Sherwick September 4, 2018 / 9:28 am

    ‘England’s greatest living Englishman retires’?

    Like

  29. thebogfather September 4, 2018 / 9:51 am

    Can I ask a ‘sensible’ question to all the SlurryCCC peeps here… how well do Burns and Stoneman bat together? Seems a possible already set opening pair for TeamECB/Sky #BogLogic

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 10:59 am

      Stoneman was superb last year, Burns is really consistent. Both have issues. Surrey’s batting had Sanga as its backstop last season, but not this year. I think both are good county players, but not going to be test players, and I thought that before Stoneman was picked.

      Someone has to go out and find someone. You aren’t going to get someone ready-made, but you are going to need to see potential and temperament. Bayliss doesn’t bother whereas maligned Fletcher did go out and watch. I’ll never comprehend how the England coach today gets away with that major part of his job being dedicated to other people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 11:12 am

        Shinny toy was promoting Vince again last night. Is he on commission?

        Like

      • thebogfather September 4, 2018 / 11:39 am

        Thanks LCL, but do they have an understanding/work for each other if out of sorts? If so, it could negate some issues of two new openers who may have never played together? #JustAskingForED

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 11:47 am

          No more than most other county partnerships. Burns has been consistent for five years now, topping 1000 runs, and Stoneman has always been a decent performer. But nothing out of the ordinary. Burns has shown leadership hasn’t worn him down this season either.

          Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:32 pm

          BTW – please write that piece on your day at the test. We have a while between the end of this series and the next test matches!

          Liked by 1 person

  30. Mark September 4, 2018 / 11:39 am

    In amongst the orgy of hero worship we see today there is still the question that can’t be answered….why?

    What is it about Cook that sent the media mad? Sure, there will always be favourites in the media. Some journos have their pet sport stars that cooperate with them. Others will be closet fan boys. But there’s usually some balance. Other journos will disagree. But not with Cook. It’s universal insanity. Almost as if a strange serum was drunk by the media who then went quite insane. Cook is not Bradman, or Richards, or Lara or Sachin or even Gower. You would not pay good money to be entertained by him. So why the fuss?

    Last night on five live Shinny toy gave an impersonation of a BBC Royal correspondent talking about the death of a king. Guards of honour over Chelsea bridge. When Mark Chapman tried very mildly to suggest that Cook had been quite lucky with injuries (the lack of them) no broken fingers for example….. Shinny toy bristled with indignation. “That because is such a great player he keeps his hands out of the way.” Really?

    I thought that when he resigned the captaincy of he test team this nonsense would stop. KP had retired, and there was no need to defend Cook as a symbol of the ECB. But alas the craziness continued and still does. Melbourne was unbelievable. We were three down, and the Ashes gone going into a dead rubber. Cook had been next to useless for the first three matches, yet once again out came the worshippers.

    But why! Nobody can explain it to me. Sometimes I think they are just trolling us for sport, but it’s on an industrial scale. Entire networks given over to this nonsense. I just don’t get the reason for this bias and protection of someone who really isn’t that great.

    Like

    • northernlight71 September 4, 2018 / 1:23 pm

      Maybe he really is nice to them. Maybe he actually is a really nice guy, obviously with a few flaws like everyone? He does seem to cast a spell over almost all of the journalists that write about him, I can only assume he comes across much better than many of his peers and genuinely tries to do the right thing when asked.
      It doesn’t for a minute excuse the double standards when supposedly “reporting” on cricket, or the slavish upgrading of every tiny thing he does to deity status. But maybe they just find it really hard to be mean about him because he’s been nice to them whenever paths have crossed?

      Just a theory. The only other explanation I can come up with is drugs. Or blackmail.

      Like

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 1:45 pm

        The media really, really liked Wenger. He never failed to turn up and answer the questions. (Except when he said I didn’t see it)

        But there was still some opposition and critical thinking. Not with Cook.

        Like

        • OscarDaBosca September 4, 2018 / 5:17 pm

          Interesting point about Wenger, he gave them excellent copy, was always polite and answered most of their banal questions, (Arsenal used to stream the press conferences live, and if you think Etheridge is bad, wait till you hear the Football journalists).

          However they still (quite rightly) criticised him and queried him.

          Like

          • Mark September 4, 2018 / 5:47 pm

            Oh I know, you don’t have to tell me about some of England’s football journos. However, there is some diversity of opinion.

            Like

      • Rooto September 4, 2018 / 6:18 pm

        Hypnosis. “Look deep into my blue, blue eyes and I will give you answers to all your questions…”

        Like

        • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 7:53 pm

          Or in Cook’s case, “my black, black eyes”.

          ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E604706142191792128&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxsports.com.au%2Fcricket%2Falastair-cook-englands-choir-boy-who-is-as-tough-as-steve-waugh%2Fnews-story%2F7f6eb2b4a1d5941ca5430d03f612bb7b
          Not sure if that link’ll work, but it’s the choirboy pic anyway.
          Cook does have strange eyes, they’re extremely dark and seem to be slightly astigmatic. Maybe hypnotism is the answer….

          Like

          • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:51 pm

            Keith Richards was a choir boy too. He sang in front of the queen in the 1950s at Westminster Abbey I believe. Then his voice broke, and he was discarded. It was his first realisation that you can be dispensed with just like that. As he says….. “it was my first pink slip.”

            Made him a bit of a rebel.

            Like

          • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 9:00 pm

            I’ve known a few people who went to choir schools, they’re competitive places even before the voice-breaking thing.

            Like

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 2:20 pm

      I think perhaps it’s because he harks back to an earlier age. Hutton, Peter May etc. (Not for a moment suggesting Cook is as good as Hutton or May. I don’t think you can compare between generations).

      Cricket fans (and I think the journalists are fans, in the main) are /terrible/ for nostalgia. You see T20 and ‘The Hundred’ undermining everything you think of, then Cook steps out and plays a Test innings.

      There’s also clearly a (subconscious, I think) Nationalism angle. We (the English) are a nationalist people. I think. The KP/Cook thing was clearly (in my eyes) driven by the same stuff that led to Brexit. Foreigner vs. ‘true-born’ Englishman. Them vs. us. Island nation vs. ‘The Continent’. Harking back to the Empire and all that.

      Basically a world in which everything you know is fading into history (the decline of the UK as a international force, Test cricket, First Class Cricket, the rise of India and the UAE in cricket and the dominance of the England and Australia authorities waning, white men being in charge of everything, not to mention Print Media, which is on its last legs) Cook is something to cling to.

      Hence all this “We’ll not see his like” again nonsense.

      Like

      • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 2:43 pm

        Very good insight, Silk, hence all the guff about the farm and how wonderful it is that he helps with lambing in the old-fashioned way.

        Like

        • Silk September 4, 2018 / 2:53 pm

          If only I was as good at my job as I was a posting on the internet!

          Like

          • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 5:36 pm

            🙂

            Like

      • Deep Purple Fred September 4, 2018 / 9:49 pm

        Great point. People like being reminded of timeless values. Cook is no doubt very reassuring. If all else fails, at least we’ll have Cook.
        Mark posed a good question (see what you can do when you stop ranting?) and I couldn’t think of a good answer; this is a very good one.
        The media loves a story that resonates, and he had all the qualities.
        Still begs the question as to why a self styled rebel didn’t make the case for the prosecution.

        Like

      • Grenville September 4, 2018 / 10:18 pm

        I think that there is some of this, but my guess is that it is a combination of the influence of Essex people being in influence positions and his one good ashes series. The Essex connection is oft cited, but I think overlooked is how small the UK cricket press core is. They must have loved rubbing their aussie colleagues noses’ in it. The old boys especially are particularly immature (ff Selvey, Mike). Cook was the person who gave them such a happy time. He became, I think, for them a legend, ahero and the second coming of Gooch. After that he could do know wrong.

        Like

      • quebecer September 6, 2018 / 1:21 am

        Yes, very smart, Silk. I think it perhaps also indicates that there was a difference in the needs of the ECB to present Cook as they did around the time of the Ashes debacle. and the need that you astutely point to among the population at large to then support him. Perhaps it was the convergence of those two things made the whole fiasco possible.

        Also important is the need for you to perhaps seek other employment. Might you be setting your sights too low and are thusly unengaged and therefore underperforming? How about going for, oh I dunno, Chairman of the National Trust? Artistic Director of the National Ballet? How about come to Canada and run for Post Master General? Just suggestions.

        Like

  31. Elaine Simpson-Long September 4, 2018 / 11:52 am

    I ventured forth BTL in the Guardian and noted that any hint of criticism of the Man of Steel was savaged. I bravely left a comment and checked back later. Oh dear…..

    Like

  32. BobW September 4, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    What another great read and the comments that follow too. I deliberately held off reading this for a day or so just so I can wait for everyone else to add their comments.
    This blog never disappoints and for that a huge thank you. Wish I could buy you a pint (at least) LCL, TLG and Sean (apologies if I have missed anyone) for the hours of pleasure in reading your work.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      Thanks Bob. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. As Chris will know, I wasn’t sure how this would go down, wasn’t sure I liked it myself. For instance, I had sometimes masked my true feelings about Cook during the last four years, but wanted to be fair. People still think I wasn’t and I can see that.

      We’ll keep trying.

      Like

  33. Silk September 4, 2018 / 1:54 pm

    I always liked Cook the batsman, and I didn’t have much of a problem with Cook the person, though Cook the captain was appalling, and he clearly lost all sense of perspective between the end of the ‘Difficult winter’ and losing the ODI captaincy later on.

    It was pretty clear to me, well before the famous 95, that he should have dropped down to 3, which would have helped the team overcome the loss of Trott, and helped us establish a new opener or two. And that he should have lost the captaincy after the 0-5 reverse. But there we are.

    But here I’ll defend the man. He’s been a full time professional batsman at the top of the game (sssh! Don’t tell the ECB Tests are the top of the game) since the age of 21. He has worked, ruthlessly, on run-scoring for that whole time, on the pitch and in the nets.

    I’m 43. I’ve made my share of mistakes. Still make them. Learning all the time. But I’ve had time to learn and grow in my work, and I haven’t been under the pressure Cook has been in, nor have I had to spend the hours just focusing on my own performance. I’m a good manager (I think) and good with people, but I’ve learned that. Leadership, particularly leadership under pressure, and how you manage people, is learned, not innate.

    Plus, the leadership environment was clearly poisonous with Flower. Seems like it still is.

    So while I’m sure that from the difficult winter onward Cook made some very bad calls, said some things he shouldn’t have said, handled people ways he should have done, and probably called in some favours with media buddies that at best could be described as underhand, I’d argue that it’s hardly a surprise that someone who had been anointed as future England captain from the age of 21 would mature into a leader with a certain sense of entitlement. Certainly it couldn’t have helped his future relationship with KP to be mentored by Strauss, a man who was on record as, well, you know.

    So yeah. He behaved like a prick. Probably. We’ll never, I think, know the whole story unless he spent his entire life taking audio recordings of every conversation he had with Strauss, KP, Flower and Downton. But he was (still is, from my perspective) a young man thrust into a leadership role he’d been told was his, but which he wasn’t really suited for. I doubt I’d have done any better. I suspect (though again,we’ll never know) he convinced himself that getting rid of KP really was for the good of the team.

    So yeah, a flawed character. But I’ll not judge him. I’ve not walked in his shoes.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:29 pm

      Thanks for the comments, Silk, and all fair enough. I once put to a prominent cricket writer that Cook’s tell all would be pretty interesting. No, he said. He’s too dull.

      Like

      • Silk September 5, 2018 / 6:47 am

        I suspect it will be very dull. In fact I can probably write it. “surprised and disappointed” will feature a lot. “the team comes first”. We had to “move on”. It was “the right decision”.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 8:16 am

          Depends if he has any ambitions in the ECB field. The more the silence. The more the lack of response. The more reluctance “to put the record straight” then the more, in my view, the only account out there rings true.

          Like

  34. Silk September 4, 2018 / 2:10 pm

    STATS.

    Cook averages only 34.2 with the bat since losing the captaincy. Depressingly he’s one of England’s “best” batsmen over the period. Only Curran (obviously), Root, Buttler, Bess (!) and Stokes average more. Only Buttler, Root and Curran average over 40 in that period. No one averages close to 50.

    Stokes averages 34.5 which is good enough for a number 6 who takes his wickets at less than that, but is appalling for a Test number 5, irrespective of how well he bowls.

    Vince averages more than Malan, Stoneman, Ali, Westley, Ballance, Pope and Jennings in that period. Our batting really is shit.

    Really, really shit.

    Like

  35. Mark September 4, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    Interesting……for a bloke who says he has nothing left in the tank Essex are so pleased to sign him for another three years.

    Just in time for another Shinny toy lecture on…..The importance, and sanctity of county cricket.

    Like

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 3:02 pm

      I, for one, am happy to have him at Chelmsford!

      Like

  36. Belgianwaffle September 4, 2018 / 2:59 pm

    Reading this and the comments was a welcome relief after all the drivel on the Guardian. One point I thought I might help clear up concerns AC’s role in Pietersen’s 2012 recall. According to Vic Marks yesterday:

    “Once your correspondent was about to praise him for the pragmatic foresight of restoring Pietersen to the side for that tour to India in 2012 when he said he would not have picked him if it had been solely his decision”

    I never enjoyed watching Cook bat, though he was a dreadful captain, and regularly squirmed at his self-centered and comically unself-aware public comments. He is a living symbol of so much that I thoroughly detest about English cricket. I’m glad to see the back of him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 3:04 pm

      You /never/ enjoyed watching him bat? Even on either of /those/ tours mentioned above?

      By golly, I’d be glad to have a batsman of the calibre of 2006 – 2008 Cook, let along 2008 – 2012 Cook, in the England side right now, even if he had the ugliest technique in Test cricket.

      Like

      • OscarDaBosca September 4, 2018 / 5:23 pm

        I admired his batting, but watching him was painful, he was a solid technician who knew his game when he was at his best.
        As I said on yesterday’s blog, I watched him score his highest test score, and the last 90 odd runs were painful, because they took longer than the previous 200, he didn’t have any gears.

        This isn’t to denigrate him, because at his best he did what his job entailed, which was take the shine off the ball, wear out the bowlers and score big runs.

        Watching Vaughan , SABMOB, Bell and may others was far more pleasurable

        Liked by 1 person

        • Silk September 4, 2018 / 5:41 pm

          My gosh. Vaughan on form was sublime.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:11 pm

            So we made him captain, put the weight of the world on his shoulders, failed to manage injuries properly, and the form went south.

            Saw his 177 in Adelaide and his 190-odd at the Oval. He made batting look easy, and he gave us hope. Now look at him.

            Like

          • dlpthomas September 5, 2018 / 2:33 am

            “Now look at him.”
            I can look at him without a problem – it’s listening to him that does my head in.

            For a short period of time he was by far the best English batsman I have seen.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 8:18 am

            Blood pressure rises as the microphone comes out and the words spew from the side of his mouth. So yes.

            Muted the Twitter feed so I don’t need to see it.

            Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:17 pm

          Cook was top notch from 2010-2012 – that’s the perception. He regressed after that winter, but that’s acceptable. He built up his career to those heights. Absolutely fine too. I’m not sure what’s controversial in that. People are now telling us that he’s done pretty well the last few years. I don’t know, I must have been judging him differently.

          Like

    • quebecer September 4, 2018 / 6:16 pm

      Belgian, old thing! How are you?

      I must admit, I never enjoyed watching him bat either, and that really is what I love most about test cricket – watching great players play. Being up on the tundra, I found the best way to enjoy Cook’s batting was to take advantage of the time differences and wake up to see what he’d scored.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:27 pm

      Thanks BW. Vic Marks’s anecdote does chime with Agnew’s too. That it was Flower’s choice. But I also think m’learned friends got involved too and unfair dismissal might have been on the cards. Wouldn’t want the Textgate stuff exposed under oath, would you? You know, KP Genius and all that.

      Like

      • jacob sweetman September 5, 2018 / 4:25 pm

        And as Cook left the field after his majestic innings in Mumbai (and it was that, a thing of occasionally stodgy, always unflustered and thoroughly ballsy beauty, the likes of which i was utterly privileged to see), K.P chased after him as he was on his way back o the pavillion to give him a hug and to say “well played skipper, and thank you for giving me the freedom to let me play my shots”. For that is what Cook had done. Without Cook’s innings in Mumbai there would have been no KP innings in Mumbai.

        That is the image that stays with me from the stands that day. And i thought that everything that had come before was water under the bridge. it breaks my heart still that it wasn’t. that he went back to the changing room to joke about what a prick KP is with his mates. That he’d never have even had him there.

        beautiful blog, by the way Dimitri. As ever. thank you.

        Like

        • nonoxcol September 5, 2018 / 4:30 pm

          That was the last time I was a genuinely happy, proud, fully-fledged England FAN.

          Like

  37. Amit Garg September 4, 2018 / 3:23 pm

    This was a good read and a good way to revisit emotions in a context. Thank you all.

    For all of us, experiences with individuals differ. So, while Cook may be a good person for a few, he remains a central figure in the KP issue, and unlikely to be forgiven. He probably deserves criticism for all of it happened on his watch.
    The media reports and coverage is just downright funny for the unbalanced review of his career. Sure, he deserves plaudits for a successful career, but any meaningful analysis would be a bit more nuanced. However, no cricket journalist in mainstream media who’s spent 5 years defending Cook is suddenly going to turn. At least not yet.
    I do hope that with time, some folks will be back to being normal after “project cook” sees some closure. Some never will, though one can hope that with time, someone like Nasser might find a sense of perspective. He knows Cook cops a lot from some quarters and I suspect he truly knows why, even if he has defended him publicly in recent times.
    And may be, just may be, after the old guard is out, the team will grow up…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      Thank you Amit, it is very much appreciated. Missed you on here!

      Sure, he deserves plaudits for a successful career, but any meaningful analysis would be a bit more nuanced. However, no cricket journalist in mainstream media who’s spent 5 years defending Cook is suddenly going to turn. At least not yet.

      Bang on. Never going to happen now. What would be interesting is if he writes a book on it and does go all in on Textgate and the Difficult Winter. Cook hasn’t appeared good at commenting on settling scores. Watch the media treat any explanation he gives very much differently to the other side. That will be fun! (Newman was his last ghostwriter)

      Like

      • Amit Garg September 5, 2018 / 8:45 am

        Sort of lost interest in the game along the way… at least don’t watch it actively any more. may be a function of giving up on cable tv 🙂

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 10:27 am

          Don’t worry Amit. The 100 won’t be for you either.

          Good to hear from you anyway.

          Like

  38. REDRUM106 September 4, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    Thanks for posting this wonderful summary of Cook’s career, far better than any of the spurious drivel emanating from MSM. While I am glad to see the back of him and believe it should have happened two years ago I have this nagging feeling that come next season after a winter where numbers 1,2,3 in the batting order are still not nailed down and AC is churning out runs for Essex there will be a clamour from the usual suspects for a recall of the prodigal son to face Australia. Hope I’m wrong but it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see this happening..

    Like

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 3:46 pm

      Cook, himself, won’t come back against Australia. He knows his time is done.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:18 pm

        I agree. But watching them try may be the final indignity.

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:22 pm

      Many thanks Red Rum.

      I find it pretty gobsmacking how the tributes are rolling over themselves, not that I’ve read any, but just being on Twitter has shown how many there are, to be the “award winner”. You know, getting the cognoscenti cooing. The cricket writing community view this blog as a nuisance, when they can be bothered with it, the loud mouth, brash outsiders who see bad in everything. They never stop to think why four cricket nuts, and the numerous commenters have got to this point. If they have, they’ve never shown it. Now when it comes to the 100, they are on “our side”. Funny how that works, innit?

      On the recall, it will be fun watching them try.

      Like

  39. Sir Peter September 4, 2018 / 3:54 pm

    Someone just told me that they’d miss his good looks…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 4:15 pm

      I miss his runs. Sadly have been missing them for the last 2 years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine September 4, 2018 / 5:10 pm

      Was it Jonathan Agnew?

      Liked by 1 person

      • quebecer September 4, 2018 / 6:23 pm

        @ zeph: lol

        Like

    • Silk September 4, 2018 / 6:09 pm

      I can’t see him bowing out on a high, or overtaking Kumar S (he needs 147 runs to do that).

      There would be a certain irony if he scored, oh, I don’t know, 158 at the Oval, though I can’t for the life of me think why that number popped into my head…

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:09 pm

      Without wishing to appear rude, could you share some of your thoughts on here, rather than just post a link? It’s not something I do on other people’s blogs, and indeed others linked to my blog on the newspapers when we grew – it was never something we did. We publicise on Twitter.

      We encourage other bloggers quite a lot, certainly more than we ever got when we were starting (you can count on the fingers on one hand who links to our blog on their blog).

      It was a decent piece, sir. Keep blogging. We need more independent voices.

      Like

      • S. Sudarshanan September 5, 2018 / 2:52 am

        Thank you.
        I apologise for that and will share views than links henceforth 🙏🏼

        Like

  40. quebecer September 4, 2018 / 6:29 pm

    Been on the road so a little late to the party, but this is by far the best piece I’ve read on Cook’s retirement anywhere.

    Really well done, Dmitri, though I suspect the main reasons why this is so good are things that you take for granted. For example, I think one reason why this is a superior piece is that bias is not simply acknowledged, it’s tacked. The ‘why’ for it, the reasons behind it, are explored and stated clearly. However, in presenting a piece admitting its perspective, a great deal of cares given to the there side of the argument too. Fundamentally, THIS is what is missing from all the other guff out there on this topic.

    LCL starts from a particular position, so therefore has to explain it properly from all angles. The result is a complete view, as the writer simply has to present the evidence against his position to then show his perspective is reasonable. No one else is doing this.

    Great stuff above the line, absolutely top posing below it.

    Check me off as another happy to be outside cricket.

    Like

    • Quebecer September 4, 2018 / 6:56 pm

      Apologies for typos. Small phone, bumpy dirt road.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 4, 2018 / 8:04 pm

      Thank you Q. I am glad you appreciated what I was trying to do. Trying to be honest with myself and with you out there. Cook’s position in my regard was dominated by events one could only suspect happen, but precious little was done to distance himself from them. When this came with almost unequivocal backing, and what criticism came his way was always coated in Poor Cookie syrup, the only conclusion I could glean was that we had some serious nonsense going on. I have looked at cricket with a much different eye since then. I never totally believe I’m right, but that’s seen not as a strength but as a weakness. The whole of my blogging days are racked with self-doubt. I think it makes me effective when I express those doubts. It is why I despise certain individuals out there, conning their public, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who would drop you at the drop of a hat if it means they gain credibility.

      I’ve mellowed a bit, it has to be said as life in the day job has got so much better, and I feel much more appreciated. But as Chris will attest, I still have my moments. I admit them. Cook fascinates me. Or more, the reaction to him. We know people in the bubble have similar feelings to ours, but they won’t confess them. That’s what we find amusing. Our freedom to comment is so much more, well, interesting. We now see the media crawling over themselves to see who can fawn best. Well done. I’ve not read any of them!

      Like

  41. Mark September 4, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    For those who have Sky, at 8.30pm you can enjoy a show called “Ashes Regained: Cooks Redemption.” (how Captain Cook achieved redemption after years of pressure by winning the 2015 Ashes)

    Enjoy!

    Funny thing is, I thought it was the bowlers who won it.

    Like

    • nonoxcol September 4, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      Seriously? That’s a real title?

      Like

      • Mark September 4, 2018 / 8:15 pm

        Yup, I think they may be trolling us?

        It’s a two hour extravaganza!

        Like

  42. orestor100 September 5, 2018 / 1:08 am

    There are no new batsmen (or even old stagers returning) in the England squad for the Oval, but hey – why would you mess with perfection? They might as well send the top order out in clown costumes with bendy rubber bats. Not Alastair though, obviously.The dignity of his regal office must be maintained until the last.Test bowling worldwide is going to be heading into a sad decline in quality when he’s no longer there to be the unlucky recipient of so many great balls.

    Like

    • d'Arthez September 5, 2018 / 5:23 am

      Well to be fair, there were no great bowlers before 2006 either. Trueman, Bedser, Marshall, Holding, Barnes, Spofforth, Sobers, et al. were mere average bowlers compared to the mighty Ishant Sharma.

      So it is just a temporary dip, until Cook’s son / grandson comes into the team …

      Like

        • nonoxcol September 5, 2018 / 8:52 am

          There you go. Exactly what I cannot bear.

          Like

        • RufusSG September 5, 2018 / 9:54 am

          The only place I’ve seen him say this was in an Instagram post (which he crossposted to his Twitter) which is a picture of Cook reading a copy of the i newspaper with own face on the back page, followed by a couple of “thinking” emojis.

          I think it might have been a light-hearted joke.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 10:01 am

            Possibly. I hope so. The danger with in-jokes is that you take the headline and that takes your attention. I should know better by now.

            Plenty buy the no ego thing. Of course he has. He wouldn’t be the player he is without it.

            Like

          • Mark September 5, 2018 / 11:11 am

            Of course he has a massive ego. Look how he behaved when he got dropped from the ODI team on the eve of the World Cup. And his truculent comments afterwards when the team performed badly. Look how he made veiled threats to retire if KP came back when Graves said he could play for England again. Look how he reacted to a mild bit of criticism by Swann about his ODI ability…….”A so called friend.”

            I don’t care if he has an ego, I don’t care if he is selfish. and puts himself above the team, many top sportsman do. What irritates me is the way the media lie, and pretend he is something he clearly isn’t , and acts out of benevolent intent.

            If you didn’t have an ego you would announce your retirement after the oval test match. Not before. You wouldn’t allow a test match to be turned into a giant shrine to yourself.

            There is no debate about his volume of runs. There is no debate about him being England’s greatest run score. What some of us refuse to accept is he is a saint.

            Like

          • TheVickster September 5, 2018 / 12:18 pm

            The average England cricketer never gets a chance to retire on their own terms, they just get dropped. It seems it is only the Captains that get given the nod before they make the long walk to the clubhouse. Everyone else only knows they’re not playing agin when they don’t get selected in the next series. I don’t recall the media going overboard for Trott or Bell on leaving but maybe if they had both announced their retirements mid series, they too might have had this great love-in. If the media goes overboard on Broad’s retirement, i will literally punch someone. He annoys me even more than Cook.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 12:43 pm

            A few notable career endings (batsmen)…

            Cook – retirement, farewell game
            Gooch – retired after Ashes tour he probably should never have gone on (see also, Mike Gatting)
            Stewart – Announced retirement in July and played the test summer v South Africa. Lots quibbled about that.
            Gower – Not selected for India tour. Retired soon after.
            KP – Do you have ten or so hours? Sacked.
            Boycott – Missed test in India, went on rebel tour. Voluntary redundancy.
            Atherton – Retired after the 2001 Ashes although his decision was widely trailed so the Oval was almost a farewell. But not officially announced until afterwards
            Bell – Hasn’t retired, as far as I know. Last seen after a poor tour in UAE.
            Strauss – Retired after 100th test match and during the Textgate saga.
            Thorpe – Dropped for KP. Retired soon after.
            Hussain – Scored a hundred and retired. Borderline HABAFO, but probably the way we all would want to go.
            Botham – Pantomime and old age. Wasn’t selected after injury during 2nd test v Pakistan in 1992.

            We don’t do fond farewells. Well, not until after games are played.

            Like

          • pktroll (@pktroll) September 5, 2018 / 1:58 pm

            Somehow convenient that Cook had a new 3 years Essex deal confirmed when the announcement had barely sunk in. No problem with that at all by the way but it makes me cynical that he had just decided to call it quits in the last couple of weeks.

            Like

        • nonoxcol September 5, 2018 / 11:48 am

          Further to Mark’s comment above (with which I agree, my only caveat being that I have no objection to Cook doing a Steve Waugh/Alec Stewart thing at The Oval), there’s also this aspect:

          How does the treatment of Cook, as captain and man, compare to that of other captains of whitewashed England sides?

          – Johnny Douglas 1920/21: captained in two more Tests, both lost to Australia, replaced.
          – David Gower 1984: backed, given that he’d only just taken over from Bob Willis and was playing clearly and indisputably one of the greatest sides to tour England since 1948. Rightly, as it turned out, until….
          – David Gower 1985/86: still playing one of the greatest-ever sides, this time away and after losing his mother a week before the tour. Got the Douglas treatment after two defeats against India at home.
          As an aside, consider the treatment of Gower after the only other result directly comparable to a whitewash, the 4-0 home defeat to “the worst ever Australian side” (as absurd as it seems now given the personnel and what they went on to do, that was indeed said at the time) in 1989, that would have been 6-0 without rain. Sacked and left out of a tour of the West Indies, and frankly ill-treated for the rest of his Test career.
          – Andrew Flintoff 2006/07: replaced by Michael Vaughan, returning from injury. Still considered a bit of a folk hero and if anything somewhat over-rated in his later years, but absolutely no-one’s idea of a captain in the wake of the Ashes and Fredalo.

          – Alastair Cook 2013/14: publicly and loudly backed by both ECB management and the media; strongly backed by the media (with rare exceptions now made out to be the norm, e.g. Boycott, Warne) even during subsequent rotten form and staggeringly absymal captaincy, culminating in England losing the early summer series for the first time since their introduction in 2000; potential rivals such as Bell briefed against or ruled out due to TINA; subject of cloying pieces about personal qualities and lifestyle in said media; acquiesced (at best) in transparent scapegoating of senior batsman booed and hissed at throughout same media (again, with rare exceptions); had the gall in spite of this favouritism to moan about the rare exceptions and about finally being replaced as ODI captain, even suggesting he’d have done a better job than Morgan afterwards.

          And somehow he CAPTAINED THE TEST SIDE FOR ANOTHER THREE YEARS, resigning (unlike the others above) after a 4-0 loss in India.

          It’s night and day. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? There was no precedent for this at all.

          Liked by 1 person

        • d'Arthez September 5, 2018 / 2:26 pm

          Well, it might be true – if he had, would the dressing room clique have prospered as much as it had?

          Mind you, Strauss is not without blame on this either.

          Like

  43. REDRUM106 September 5, 2018 / 1:23 pm

    Seen a few references to Cook being just as much a victim of the machinations of Flower and the ECB after the difficult winter as Pietersen himself. Sorry but I don’t buy that – after losing 0-5 to what was, Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris apart, not a particularly strong Aussie team and losing 2 of his “gun” players in Trott and Swann, Cook should have been straining every sinew to keep KP in the team. They clearly were desperate for him to remain as captain so despite the whitewash Cook was arguably in quite a strong position to make some demands.The fact that he apparently didn’t raise any objections to KP’s sacking shows that his only concern was self preservation.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 1:33 pm

      I’ve been re-reading KP’s book, just for background in case people think I read it each week. There’s the bit where KP is on his way home and gets a call from the ECB press officer to tell him senior members of the England set-up were meeting with certain journalists.

      Let the games continue.

      Like

      • TheVickster September 5, 2018 / 1:46 pm

        I’m surprised they even bothered to phone him. By the end, it didn’t seem as if there was barely any contact at all.

        Like

      • Mark September 5, 2018 / 1:54 pm

        Ethridge……”The ECB doesn’t leak.”

        Like

        • Sherwick September 6, 2018 / 7:09 am

          Beveridge….”Look very closely at the photo.”

          Like

          • Sherwick September 6, 2018 / 7:10 am

            Etheridge *

            Like

  44. LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    Cook’s “Expression of regret”… as reported today.

    “It could have been handled differently,” said Cook. “I have a regret over it, it wasn’t great for English cricket. The end of the Sri Lanka series and the Lord’s Test, that was the lowest I was.”

    “The fall-out of that wasn’t great for English cricket and wasn’t great for me. I was involved in that decision without being the bloke who actually made the final decision.”

    Does that merit the headline to get you to click on it. Naughty CricBuzz.

    Like

  45. Mark September 5, 2018 / 2:10 pm

    I go back to the question I posed on the day of his retirement……

    What would have happened if India had won the last Test match and it was 2-2 going into the decider? The reason this is relevant is Agnew has now admitted in print that he knew on the Thursday night before the last test match started when he had dinner with Cook. So would Agnew have kept mum if India had won, and Cook had kept silent for another test match?

    Or would Cook have turned a series decider into the Cook shit show?

    There is also another factor here. Why is Cook even having dinner with Agnew as we are told constantly he doesn’t take any notice of what is written about him.? And also why does he turn up to Selvey’s leaving do, and buy him a pint? (Something Selvey was boasting about)

    For a man who it is claimed has no interest in the media he seemed to spend a lot of time/dinners/treadmills cultivating friendships with media who were nauseatingly supportive through all his so called hard times.

    Like

    • Mark September 5, 2018 / 2:23 pm

      We have some answers or sorts. Interesting, so in his press conference he has said this….

      “In this day and age, it’s very hard to keep anything quiet,” he said. “If it was 2-2 I would have had to keep my mouth shut. But when you do media and are asked questions, it’s hard to constantly lie, to be brutally honest.”

      Well wtf were you sitting telling Agnew all about it at dinner before the test match then?

      Like

    • Mark September 5, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      Things Cook said today I like and respect….

      “I can look back and say I became the best player I could have become. That means quite a lot to me. I’ve never been the most talented cricketer, and I don’t pretend I was, but I definitely got everything out of my ability.”

      Things I don’t like

      “I still believe I was the best man for the job and the right man to be England captain at that time. I could have taken the easy option and thrown the towel in, but I didn’t, and the team got the reward with the Ashes in 2015.”

      Hmmm

      Like

  46. LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    I just plucked up the courage to read Paul Newman’s tribute. You can almost imagine it written through tears. It’s full of contradictions – it’s perfect timing although his form had gone; he could choose his own time to go, but the selectors might have tapped him on the shoulder; So many players and coaches go on too long, but his returns were diminishing – but let’s leave it at that.

    No. It’s this….

    There is no question we have been watching the dying of the brightest light in England batting history during a painful year in which Cook has struggled to hold back the tide and the impact of years of opening toil.

    No, sorry not that.

    This

    Cook should be applauded for resisting that temptation [to stay on another year], just as he was right to step down as captain after defeat in India two years ago when England’s coaches were hoping he would still be at the helm for last winter’s Ashes.

    No, that’s utter madness. It has to be.

    This

    There was always far more steeliness and stubbornness about the former St Paul’s Cathedral choir boy than met the eye, not least when he defiantly remained at the helm in the eye of the storm surrounding Kevin Pietersen.

    Now, four years on, even those many pundits who were calling for Cook’s head in that bitter aftermath to the 2013-14 Ashes thrashing must surely concede that England kept faith with the right man.

    It’s wonderful. Still fighting the fight. You won. Your man got to keep the marbles. Have a lovely steely day!

    Read it if you dare…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-6127805/In-bowing-class-decency-Alastair-Cook-displayed-perfect-timing.html

    Like

    • nonoxcol September 5, 2018 / 8:32 pm

      “Paul Downton, then the England team director, had insisted it was Cook who rang Gooch to tell him they were moving on without him”

      What an inspired appointment he was. Such deftness of touch, such perspicacity in handling experienced international cricketers.

      Seriously though: they managed to make him the lightning rod for the Pietersen business *and* got him to do a Henry Hill/Paulie on his mentor.

      Inspired.

      Like

        • Mark September 5, 2018 / 9:40 pm

          Hey boss I hope you are taking your camera to the Test match. I think some of the crowd shots may be classic. You may see grown men weeping, and all sorts.

          This has the potential to rival Princess Diana’s funeral. Will Elton John sing Goodbye England’s Rose?

          Goodbye England’s rose
          May you ever grow in our hearts
          You were the grace that placed itself
          Where lives were torn apart

          You called out to our country
          And you whispered to those in pain
          Now you belong to heaven
          And the stars spell out your name

          And it seems to me you lived your life
          Like a candle in the wind
          Never fading with the sunset when the rain set in
          And your footsteps will always fall here
          Along England’s greenest hills
          Your candle’s burned out long before
          Your legend ever will

          Perhaps Bernie Taupin has re written it as…

          Goodbye England’s sheep.

          Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 5, 2018 / 8:42 pm

        Booth…

        The KP affair was a tough year, no doubt about that,’ he said.

        ‘The fallout wasn’t great for English cricket, it wasn’t great for me. I was involved in that decision without making the final decision. It could have been handled differently, and I have regret over it because it wasn’t good for English cricket.’

        Did not one of those journalists ask any additional questions, or were they told to keep schtum? Was there no intellectual curiosity to get further into this matter?

        Like

        • Mark September 5, 2018 / 9:21 pm

          Cook could have scored 0 every match for the last four years, and the English cricket media would have defended him.

          Cooks career ended this week. The cricket media’s credibility ended four years ago. RIP

          Like

  47. Deep Purple Fred September 5, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    In all the many comments that have been made, we probably should take a little time out to remember clivejw. I haven’t seen him post for a long time, not here and not at the Guardian (although I’m an infrequent visitor there, maybe he still pops up). In fact, I think I heard about this dmitri guy from clive.

    His relentless carping on at “sheep” was something to behold, accurate and determined. He would not be denied, despite being howled down, and if I remember correctly, Selvey, back when he bothered to interact with the plebs, called him a relentless churl, an insult I’m sure he wore with pride.

    I’m surprised he hasn’t popped up top say a few words, but no matter, I’m pretty sure I know what those words would be anyway. A libation is in order for clivejw, who I’m sure feels a weight off his shoulders now.

    Liked by 3 people

  48. nonoxcol September 6, 2018 / 6:59 am

    “Mourning” everyone…

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/sep/05/alastair-cook-england-mourning-period

    “Cook’s Test career will end at the same venue as those of a host of greats – Alec Stewart, Curtly Ambrose, Viv Richards, David Gower, Ted Dexter and Don Bradman are among those to sign off at the Oval.”

    Yeah, er, one of those was not quite like the others, was it?

    “the England Test team are “more talented than any I’ve played in” – ”

    Oh dear God please, still with this. Give me strength. The differences are Strauss, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Swann and third seamer, for fuck’s sake. Your team wins on third seamer and Stokes (though not as a batsman alone), and that’s it.

    Enjoy yourselves…

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 6, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Today with the Selfey…

      As if this is a concern about journalistic standards!!! That would be too funny.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark September 6, 2018 / 8:12 am

        This blowhard has made a career based on innuendo, rumour, unmamed sources, and bar room gossip.

        And he wants to lecture on the lack of professionalism?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark September 6, 2018 / 8:18 am

          Also, Montague probably has never heard of Cook. Just Like most of the country. Thanks to the ECB policy of hiding cricket behind a pay wall for over a decade, and lovingly supported by one Mike Selvey.

          Anyway….. the kids don’t watch or listen to the news on radio…….. they are on their phones and tablets….. hey Mike, ain’t that so?

          Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol September 6, 2018 / 8:26 am

        I don’t remember any concern about ignorance and lack of professionalism:

        – during all the leaking, from textgate through 2013/14, to 355* and Strauss, to Moores being sacked
        – when the ECB mis-spelt Pietersen’s name on his 100th Test memento
        – when Strauss said “cunt” on air (quite the opposite in fact, he put it in his highlights of the year. Someone should remind him of that)
        – during the various fuckwitted travails of “inspired appointment” Downton

        He’s just proving what he is. Yet again. Because someone did something incredibly trivial, by comparison, to someone he likes.

        Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus September 6, 2018 / 9:57 am

            Of all the thousands of column inches written, and millions of words spoken, in the months since Kevin Pietersen was told that he would no longer be selected as part of the England cricket team, nothing was more succinct than the handful of sharp words uttered by Andrew Strauss, and heard by television viewers, all the more poignant for his brief comment being inadvertent. Strauss was an England captain of the utmost integrity, in no small part driven into the ground and ultimately out of the game, by an unmanageable individual. He more than anyone can be listened to. There never was a smoking gun: ultimately it was just Kevin being Kevin and enough was enough.

            Just read that again, anyone from the journo corps who pop on here from time to time, and tell me we were wrong not to get livid about what went on.

            I fucking know and you don’t. So fuck off. That’s the gist of this. That and Strauss was driven out of the game putting his collapsing form and inability to buy a run down to KP. If he loved the game that much, like Cook, he’d have gone back to county cricket, but Lord Brocket wanted more. None of that though.

            It never gets old.

            Liked by 2 people

          • nonoxcol September 6, 2018 / 10:01 am

            What is “poignant” versus what is “insulting” (even though both might be “inadvertent”, as Fred points out).

            Selvey in a nutshell.

            Like

    • Mark September 6, 2018 / 8:04 am

      I suspect this weekend will reveal, yet again that one of the greatest inventions of the last forty years is the TV remote control mute button.

      I have set mine on maximum strength. And prepare to wear your anti bullshit deflector helmets.

      Like

      • Zephirine September 6, 2018 / 9:29 am

        Unfortunately for those who rely on TMS there’ll be no escape. It’ll be Cook all day long.

        Apparently Mrs Cook has agreed that if the baby starts arriving he can still make his final farewell Test the priority. Which is nice.

        Sometimes I wonder what John Arlott would have made of all this.

        Like

    • Deep Purple Fred September 6, 2018 / 9:23 am

      That reference to bowling was almost certainly a joke. That Cook took a wicket was pretty funny, and I’ve no doubt the journalist was referring to the humour of the event, quite possibly in response to the earnest plaudits everywhere else. The fact that Selvey can’t even tolerate a single moment of tongue in cheek humour shows how deeply over his head he’s buried in his hero worship.

      But even more remarkable is the anger in his response. Not only does he refuse the see the joke, he responds with red-faced spluttering rage. The guy’s an utter nut case. He must be trawling through the media, checking for any copy that doesn’t meet the highest standards of hagiography.

      Liked by 2 people

  49. Silk September 6, 2018 / 10:09 am

    I wonder if this little nugget gets to the heart of Cook more than anything else

    “I [Cook] hope I’m still the same person as when I started. Those who know me best would say that.”

    From my perspective, that’s a very bizarre thing to say. I’m most definitely /not/ the person I was when I started in my career. I’ve grown.

    Perhaps Cook sees change as something to be resisted. Which explains his brilliance as an opener, his doggedness, his focus.

    But if you’re the same person at 28 when you’re England Captain that you were at 21 when you made your debut, then you are unlikely to be a very good captain, or people manager. Which is why you don’t get 21 year olds to run things.

    As for “I think everyone knows opening the batting is the toughest job in the team”. I’d ask Alec Stewart, Matt Prior and Geriant Jones what they think about that one.

    Like

    • RufusSG September 6, 2018 / 11:18 am

      It depends on the person I guess. People grow, change and mature – I’d like to think I have – but you keep core aspects of your personality and values you think are worth upholding. It’s a common complaint that fame and wealth often changes people for the worse, after all. But really we’d need Cook to explore this topic in more detail to know whether he’s talking about his core personality or more superficial traits.

      Like

  50. man in a barrel September 6, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    It almost makes you wonder how many legs the next addition to the Cook family will have

    Like

  51. WHS September 13, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    “For those who deem me a hater, and who don’t want to go on, read the first two paragraphs again and then sod off. You might get the hint.”

    Never stop in your life and think ‘I may be wrong about things, now and then. After all, there are people who sincerely disagree with me, and who knows, they may be right’? Don’t do self doubt?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 15, 2018 / 11:43 am

      Welcome to the blog, WHS.

      I should explain. There are a number of people, over the years, who on Twitter and elsewhere have sought to pigeonhole this blog. We are four individuals who yes, have common themes, but also hold different opinions as writers of this venture. Some just dismiss this blog as “anti-Cook” as if this is the only thing we talk about. That comment was absolutely directed at them so they didn’t read through this post, which has a large element of self-doubt, and pick at the bits without looking at the whole. That’s why I told them to sod off.

      Liked by 1 person

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