Standing In The Door Of The Pink Flamingo – The Fifth Test Preview

“It was a kind of so-so love, so I’m gonna make sure it never happens again” – Soft Cell

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The Original London Test Venue – Accept No Substitutes

July 2012 – It was half an hour before the end of play. England had been chased around the Oval by Hashim Amla, en route to a mammoth 311 not out, and Jacques Kallis, with his death by relentlessness. The only wicket to fall was Graeme Smith, for a century. I had had enough. Enough of being kicked from behind. Enough of getting up, and sitting down, getting up and sitting down. Enough of not being able to take pictures because stupid idiot that I was, I had forgotten to put the charged battery in the camera. A fact I discovered when I tried to turn the camera on at 11 am. I had had enough of the test match “experience”, the fan who had had his fill of going to watch test cricket with the personal space diminishing. I got up, and I walked out.

That was 2012. Tomorrow is the first time I’ve gone back to the Oval for a test match. What was once an annual pilgrimage now has a sense of novelty returning to it. I’m almost excited about it. And then.

England go into this test match 3-1 up against the number one team in the world. I am a cricket fan who sat through the 1980s and 1990s and saw England struggle to win any long test series. Now I take this 3-1 win and feel somewhat cheated. Every test match in England has to prepare a result wicket. That’s pretty clear these days. Let’s look at this year’s tests:

Lord’s v Pakistan – Ended after lunch on Day 4

Headingley v Pakistan – Ended towards end of Day 3

Edgbaston v India – Ended early on Day 4

Lord’s v India – Ended midway through Day 4 with Day 1 being washed out

Trent Bridge v India – Ended 10 minutes into Day 5

Southampton v India – Ended after tea on Day 4

To me the test match experience is one where all results are possible, including the most thrilling of all – the race to take wickets against time. Now grounds appear so terrified of producing a wicket where real hard work is required to take scalps and being branded a “Chief Executive’s Pitch” that things seem to go the other way. Now the draw only seems to come into play when it rains. The broadcasters, supposedly speaking for me say that the best test wickets are the ones we have been watching. Batting is being effected by T20 revolutions and all that, we know that, but England players especially have stopped making big scores. We have two centuries in this series. Two. By an all-rounder and a bloke batting 7. I loved test matches for the batting. I wasn’t a great fan of bowling as a bad club player, but I watched the game for batting. The eccentric and the orthodox, the pretty and the ugly, the attacking and defensive. Now we look at the batting in tests and think enjoy it while it lasts in England. A knock like Pujara’s should not be an oasis in the desert – not should it be too common – but it’s rare now. Rare here.

So England play in a test match which could end with us 4-1 up in the series. The team we are playing is the number 1 team in the world. When England played India in 2011, on the cusp of taking the number 1 mantle from India, we were 3-0 up going into the final test of the summer at the Oval. At that time India had just been slaughtered in a four day test where England won by an innings and many, racked up 700, saw Cook fall short of 300, and Sehwag get a king pair. Now we go into this match with the team struggling to make 300, a batting line-up with more holes than a colander, a question mark of balance, a wicket-keeper debate, a retiring pit prop and a captain who has finally stamped his feet and said “I’m not batting three”. And somehow, someway, the vanquished have “enhanced” their reputations by not capitulating meekly like the last two Indian test sides to visit our shores. This seems to be because their bowling hasn’t been atrocious, far from it, and Kohli and Pujara have made centuries. The fact is, with the draw out of the equation apart from rain, tests are going to get a result. 4-1 just doesn’t seem as impressive (to me) when the draw is pretty much a non-starter. Some see this as progress.

Of course, tomorrow isn’t really about a contest between England and India now. It isn’t about trying to prepare for a winter where we are going to get slow and low tracks, turning or just dead. It isn’t about seeing who has it, who hasn’t and so on. It has become a valedictory for an England legend, a personal farewell to a man who stood above it all and came out on top. The tributes have been fulsome. The gushing prose forged through misty eyes hangs over the English cricket world. Every praise ratcheted up, eulogies that people want to hang their name to.

I remember the celebration last test for Sachin Tendulkar, who, by common consent was at least two years past it when he had his farewell. Every replay was met with a brief screen saying “Sachin’s Last Test” or something. It was teeth-itching in it’s cloying manner. I thought when he was dismissed for the final time that the catcher might get a death threat for denying him a ton. Steve Waugh’s farewell seemed to follow similar, if lower key lines, but then the oppo pouring 700 on you does that to a man.

I’d seen worse. Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, last home game at the New Stadium barely took the camera off the man for the three hour broadcast. There was an actual sporting contest, a close, if not overly meaningful one, going on but you could have been forgiven that no-one gave a stuff. I sincerely hope Sky and TMS get the formalities out of the way, comment at the appropriate time, and keep the test match as the focus.

There will be more on Cook post test, and I am sure you’ll have your say on the coverage of the match. As a test event, England sealing the series has rendered this into “dead rubber” territory so any messages, form or results need to be considered in this context. For example, would a Keaton Jennings hundred mean as much? What about a fifty? We’ve been there with the dead rubber thing, but look, I’m a fan and the tension on the game between us being 3-1 and it being 2-2 is palpable. The former feels like a semi-exhibition, the latter meaning a huge amount. It speaks volumes for that relative importance that Cook felt he could announce a retirement with a 3-1 lead, but not if 2-2, for fear of distracting from the task at hand. Says a lot, Melbourne Manics, doesn’t it? From his own words.

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Pitch preparations going well. Little bit in it for the spinners. No, this isn’t Taunton.

At time of writing there is no outline on either side. I’m rather hoping India pick Shaw as he is an exciting talent, and I would love to see him play. There may be other chances. From the England perspective, Stroppy YJB, Jonny the Teenager (the media have gone to town on this, haven’t they) is set to reclaim the gloves, and Buttler becomes the batsman. Ali is set to ruin his batting stats further by taking number 3 – Newman, for one, not happy that Joe is pulling up the ladder on that role – and is now back firmly in the fold. Jennings has one last chance to nail down one of the two opening vacancies. Woakes, Stokes, Curran can’t all play unless they drop Rashid? 12 into 11 don’t go. I know. I know. As soon as I press send, they’ll announce the team. That always happens.

Finally some Cook thoughts:

  • His statement of “regret” about KP is nothing new. That it is being dressed up as something it isn’t adds to the dishonesty around this long festering story. I’m sorry if I think it is still important. There’s something like this being stirred up for someone else. Look at YJB’s media in the past week. Open season.
  • His statement that he won’t reconsider is also worthless, but also file it under “what else can he say”. He can’t say he will consider un-retiring a day or two after he announced he was retiring. Also if he does score a hatful of runs, our opening crisis is not solved, and people asked him to play, if he said yes, would we stop him because he retired. Of course not? On past evidence of form, maybe, but not because he announced it.
  • I made an error jumping on a Jimmy Anderson “no ego” tweet. My fault. But let’s face it, it’s not as if nonsensical overblown statements have never been mentioned in the same breath as our opener.
  • When it is over, I might move on, but probably not. I’ll carry on writing an “Anti-Cook Blog” despite hardly writing about him all year (one pet peeve – a blog is the collective writing on an online site. An individual piece is either a “piece” or a “post. Not a blog. No correspondence entered into). There may be a sense of no off limits players after this (perhaps Anderson on his retirement) and we will see how the media deal with Root’s rough patches. What has been enlightening, and why I wrote at such length on the previous post, is the whole circus around Cook (including me). For such a dull, non-social media, cricket man, he invokes passionate discussion. It’s one of the oddest, yet easily explainable things. Establishment stooge v England legend. There’s the rub.

Enjoy the test, I hope my camera works, and although I doubt I will write tomorrow, I’ll be sure to do a test day experience piece, possibly in concert with Trevor (Bogfather) next week in the long run up to the next test.

Thanks, and especially thanks for all the nice words and comments on the Cook piece. This makes me want to do more. It’s reassuring.

Peter (Dmitri)

Oh! And Comments below, of course…….

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97 thoughts on “Standing In The Door Of The Pink Flamingo – The Fifth Test Preview

  1. nonoxcol Sep 6, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    “A nice little housewife, who’ll give me a steady life. And won’t keep going off the rails.”

    Always knew I’d found a keeper when I saw you liked small-scale but epic stories told via the medium of electronic music.

    Thanks for the last four and a half years.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 1:28 pm

      The preceding couple of lines may have been more my way of thinking!

      Like

      • mdpayne87 Sep 6, 2018 / 2:27 pm

        I always think of the David Gray version of that song. Sacrilege I know.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 2:33 pm

          I used to think of the other version of Stairway to Heaven, but if I do so now, not only is it supposedly heretic, I’d be labelled as something else!

          Like

    • nonoxcol Sep 6, 2018 / 2:03 pm

      PLEASE, would someone tweet him the “cunt” link and subquote “defending the indefensible”.

      Make my day, go on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Sep 6, 2018 / 2:17 pm

      The more I read of Selvey the more I’m convinced that I would Never believe what he judges constitutes a “good bloke.”

      If Selvey thinks you are a good bloke I would have a long hard look in the mirror, and question if you are balmy.

      The beatings will continue, until you all call clap louder.

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Sep 6, 2018 / 2:52 pm

      He’s escalating. It started with insulting, then became sheer ignorance, now it’s up to indefensible. I wonder if Bertus can push him up to treasonous, or heretical.

      Like

  2. Mark Sep 6, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    Peter I’m glad you wrote about the apparent shortening length of Test matches in recent years. I know it’s only natural to look back with rose tinted glasses, and I expect there were many test matches that ended in 3-4 days decades ago. However I’m sure on average the games lasted longer. (Happy to be proved wrong by stats, but can’t be bothered to look them up) We rarely even bowl 90 overs these days either.

    When I first started watching Test matches there was a rest day, Sunday, So the forth day could actually feel a bit like the fifth day. There also seemed like there were many more draws. The rear guard action of holding out for a draw, doesn’t fit with the increasing Americanisation of everything. We need a winner. Doesn’t matter who, but five days for a draw …..no thanks. But then Test cricket was always for those that enjoyed the whole thing. Not just the result. Some would say oddballs.

    I have no idea if the pitch down at Taunton was doctored in the last few days, but I do find it amusing that when England do similar it’s referred to as creating a “result wicket.” How the hell can the ECB lecture counties about doctoring when they are just doing a posh version of the same?

    Of course England can’t play on flat pitches because they get beat. India would have scored more runs, and England wouldn’t. We know this because when England travel abroad they are shockingly bad. 300/350 is par for England regardless of conditions. Anyway the TV experts now inform us these are the best pitches because it makes for more exciting cricket. It makes for more chance of an England win more like. For Sky/ECB that is the same thing.

    Like

  3. OscarDaBosca Sep 6, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    I was also at that test. It was dispiriting at the time because we didn’t take more than one wicket and Amla looked impenetrable
    Little did I realise I was watching the last Halcyon days of test batting

    Like

  4. LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    Pick the bones out of this. I’ll probably have to download it when I get home tomorrow.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/24596772/alastair-cook-wanted-keep-door-ajar-kevin-pietersen-return

    I’m not going to call him a liar, but he’s wanting it both ways. There was all that culture crap and living and dying for England BS at the time that didn’t sound like he was leaving a door open. Yes, I know, he couldn’t go against his bosses. Then Strauss let his personal feelings get in the way!

    I’ve always ranked the villains in order in my mind at 2014.

    1. Downton
    2. Clarke
    3. Flower
    4. Cook

    It was the media treatment and handling by of Cook that drove me spare.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Sep 6, 2018 / 9:54 pm

      Hmm interesting!

      It’s plausible. But Cook seemed mighty irritated at the time when Graves said KP could come back into the team, and the media then turned on Graves. I do think that the biggest division was Flower/Strauss/KP rather than Cook/KP. Hence the savouring by Selvey of Strausss c*** remarks. There were some rumours that Cook wasn’t altogether happy with his lot, and felt he had been let down by some people behind the scenes.

      I think Cook was a stooge, but perhaps a willing one? Who knows? The English cricket establishment projected onto Cook a symbol of everything they wanted. In exchange Cook became a captain with zero criticism against him, and his place never in question.

      It may be Cook was never these things, and just wanted a quiet life opening the batting. In many ways if he had taken that route he would be much more respected by many of us outsiders. He became the symbol of the ECB. If true I would be a bit pissed off with them myself. But he can’t say he didn’t prosper from the whole business.

      If he does write a book I hope he tells the truth, warts and all, and doesn’t get Newman to write a Janet and John version.

      Like

    • quebecer Sep 6, 2018 / 10:51 pm

      On the Ashes tour itself and what transpired there, I’d have Gooch on that list too.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:54 pm

        There’s more tonight. Lots more.

        If Cook didn’t agree with it, why hasn’t he tried to bury the hatchet. He wasn’t the one wronged.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. nonoxcol Sep 6, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I’d always put Inspector Dreyfus higher than Clarke, unless you’re taking the ICC shenanigans (leaked about two weeks before KP was sacked) into account as well. I’m just not sure that anyone could get away with “aplomb” on the scale of Downton’s, having just walked through the door after years “outside cricket”, unless Dreyfus was pulling strings and leaking in the notoriously anal manner customary to his organisation.

    Like

  6. LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:10 pm

    Oh Lordy…

    Guess who….

    ‘I’ve got a friend who is a legendary American investor called Howard Marks,’ he begins. ‘He has this phrase, “If you want to be different and better, you have to bear the risk of being different and worse”.

    ‘That’s a really important point. You should always have the bravery to do what you think is right, even if you know there’s a chance it won’t succeed.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:18 pm

      You know who it is. Newman is in love.

      The selection Smith definitely got right was bringing Buttler back to the Test team. Frankly, he won this observer over as soon as he did that, because it was ludicrous the previous panel ever left him out. Smith’s eyes light up when Buttler is mentioned.

      ‘Normally I would say “we” but in this instance I don’t mind saying I felt incredibly strongly Buttler had to play,’ says Smith. ‘I’d watched every ball he’d faced for England in every format. I’d watched him in the IPL and I’d followed him closely. Anyone who knows me will appreciate that selection was no surprise. It had to be done.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-6140239/Ed-Smith-claims-Im-prepared-things-left-field.html

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Sep 6, 2018 / 10:25 pm

        ‘Normally I would say “we” but in this instance I don’t mind saying I felt incredibly strongly Buttler had to play,’ says Smith.

        So what is he saying….The coach and Root didn’t want Butler in the team?

        A bit early for the new selector to be doing a lap of honour. He still has to find two new openers, and a number three.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:28 pm

          He got a double first in history at Cambridge and enjoyed a career as an author, academic, journalist and broadcaster.

          Left a word out. Begins with P…..

          Like

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:30 pm

        One more…

        The big question asked by team director Strauss of Smith and the man he narrowly pipped for the role, Andy Flower, was whether selection was an art or a science?

        ‘What didn’t get widely reported is that my answer was not what was expected,’ says Smith.

        ‘I don’t think selection will ever be an exact science. It will never be reduced to an algorithm or a simple equation that gives you the right player.

        ‘Yes, we can use better statistics and ask better questions of statistics, but there’s always going to be the need for judgment.”

        He’s patting himself on the back for answering the dumb question “both”. I am mofoing awestruck.

        What did Flower answer? “I kicked out the top scorer on a tour. What the fuck do you think?” – Narrowly pipped. It’s brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 12:30 am

          He’s doing another lap of honour for smugly answering the question with a special killer answer that nobody expected. (Or so he claims)

          He’s not a modest man is he?

          Perhaps Flower passed on that question?

          Like

  7. LordCanisLupus Sep 6, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    It’s crazytown tonight. WTSF is this….

    Oh come on! He says he agreed with it. He says that KP should have been dropped after the tour despite scoring the most runs. He says he was relieved when Strauss killed the beast. Come on. Piers Morgan, for all his many faults, is going to chew that up and spit it out.

    Can’t wait for this interview.

    Agnew and I used to talk a bit in the old days. He once told me Flower got KP reinstated to the squad for India. During the fire and fury he never once mentioned Cook didn’t agree with the post-Ashes KP sacking to me. Yet he’s said he has told Piers for years. Why now to say it? Staggering. Sure, he didn’t need to tell me anything, but you’d have thought he might have mentioned it? I still like Aggers. For all my sins. But I really don’t know what the hell is going on here.

    Oh my….

    Fire away. See you in the morning. I’ve a test match to go to.

    Like

    • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 12:18 am

      “He didn’t agree with it.”

      Well why the f*** didn’t he say something then? He’s supposed to be a man of steel. A leader up there with Zeus.

      And why does he have to keep talking through you Aggers? Are you Lord Charles to his Ray Alan?

      When Colin Graves said KP might be allowed back, “after some time off” the impression that was given was Cook would resign.

      Oh what a tangled web you media sycophants do weave……….

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 1:05 am

        He agreed with it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 5:30 am

      Somehow I don’t think this belated “ta-dah” moment is going to heal any schisms.

      What actually possessed them to re-open this for his final Test match though? Did he, did JA, seriously think it would wipe clean the blemish so we could all get down to mourning and worship?

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred Sep 7, 2018 / 7:00 am

        Exactly the same question came to me too, why would they want his glorious last test played out to a background of this old controversy? Why dscuss it on TMS? I guess the reason is that they feel he is triumphant and vindicated, and they’re in a position to rub it in. Cook has gone on to a glorious and record setting end to his career (according to their analysis) and KP disappeared.

        They won’t admit that it was a less that optimal episode, and things might have been better for all parties, Cook, KP and England, if they hadn’t fired him. They demand that the critics confess, foreswear, and repent. They are determined to be right, there must be no blemish on Cook. What better time to drive this home than during Cook’s lap of honour?

        Agnew is a piece of work.

        Liked by 2 people

        • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 7:15 am

          “They demand that the critics confess, foreswear, and repent. They are determined to be right, there must be no blemish on Cook. What better time to drive this home than during Cook’s lap of honour?”

          Sadly, having slept on it, I agree. It’s not as if they don’t have form: the 2015 Ashes had to be re-cast as “Cook’s Redemption” as soon as the Trent Bridge Test finished. Hussain said it, Brian Moore tweeted it (even saying it was vindication for fucking Downton), Ed Smith and Dominic Lawson wrote articles with that theme.

          Cook, at that time, in that series, had made one fifty (96) in seven innings, and that in defeat. He averaged 31.86 and went on to make 85 (again in defeat) at The Oval. He was about to complete 15 Ashes Tests without a hundred. Root, Broad, Finn, Anderson and Stokes had done all the key work in 2015: it seemed to me they received very little credit in the afterglow.

          That weekend was an interesting one on BOC.

          Like

          • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 9:15 am

            Yet he takes all the glory for himself. He said that the 2015 Ashes win was the the vindication of keeping him as captain after the 2014 Ashes loss. So without his fantastic leadership England would not have won back the Ashes? But as you say England’s bowlers plus Root played a more important roles.

            As Fred says, Agnew is a piece of work. And this is the final straw in his pretence as a neutral pundit.

            From the twitter gate scandal, and is claim that the account wasn’t being run from the English dressing room,
            His spats with KPs wife over passwords.
            imploring us to get behind Cook after the India series in 2014.
            His delight in revealing within minutes of the private meeting between Strauss and KP that KPs career was over.
            Tell all dinners on the eve of the last test match evening when Cook told him he was retiring, but Agnew forgot to inform his listerners.

            He has been nothing but Cooks Public relations manager throughout, and to top it off he now demands an apology from his crictics. Not just worship of his hero you see , but a full blown apology.

            Fuck you Agnew, and fuck your grubby yellow journalism. A fake pundit for a fake news organisation.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 9:42 am

            I’m frigging steaming right now! I don’t know how you have the stomach for it. TV remains switched off.

            I dare you boo when he walks out.

            Like

      • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 9:38 am

        An Australian view:

        “I was captain” does seem to matter a bit more when it’s “I won in India”.

        Like Dmitri, I still rank him a distant fourth among those names mentioned above. I’m certainly never going full Maxie and Piers.

        But, as ever, you can see the agenda from Neptune. Or at least, might we say, from North Korea.

        Like

        • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 9:51 am

          The so called “man of steel” mantra has taken a bit of beating today……( I was captain, I didn’t agree with it, but er,er,ah,er maybe I did agree with it. I’ll let Mr Agnew explain it for me)

          The Emperor has no cloths.

          Like

  8. metatone Sep 7, 2018 / 8:37 am

    I’m sort of the opposite, I’ve always loved bowling and while there have been great batsmen I loved watching (Richards, Lara, VVS come to mind) my love for the game come from the bowling side.

    Yet, I’m not taking much pleasure from these pitches. It feels the dial has been turned too far the other way. I don’t want endless draws, teams racking up 600 & 700 like on the worst stretch of pitches between India and SL… but you want a Test match that looks like it will go to Day 5. (All the more so if you’d like to see some of the finer aspects of spin bowling.)

    I got a few emails with things like “£35 tickets still available for Day 4” and I think that’s kind of symbolic. (Yes, dead rubbers attract less interest, Day 4 is Monday… but… no-one is even sure it will last that long.)

    Like

  9. d'Arthez Sep 7, 2018 / 9:44 am

    England have won 9 out of 10 tosses against India recently (for Tests).

    I expect 4-1 after 4 days confirmed.

    Like

    • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 10:01 am

      Perhaps England have a special remote controlled coin that is operated by laptop from a bunker under Loughborough?

      (This is sarcasm by the way. Just in case any miserable unfunny Selveyistas are reading.)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 9:55 am

    I’m reflecting on why I’m feeling so furious this morning. And it is the media.

    Cook has had a very good England career, and it’s his final match. I don’t have a major problem with that, or with the idea of saying goodbye to a player who has played for so long. It ought to be a time for a farewell and a celebration of him, flaws, strengths and all.

    This determination to paint him as an all time great without qualification, this insistence as with Agnew above to state that black is white, this ridiculous cult of Cook, both at the time of Pietersen and now – to try to ensure that the proper narrative is possible, has all meant that a player who should be lauded for what he was done on the cricket field provokes ire and fury from a significant section of cricket supporters.

    That’s what I’m not going to forgive. I should be able to appreciate Cook the player. And I can’t. You utter bastards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 10:12 am

      Yup, 100% agree! The media are in large part the reason why Cook couldn’t just be viewed as a very good opening batsman. . Maybe one day Cook might reflect, that just maybe he got played by a cynical media so desperate to suck up to the ECB agenda. I doubt it mind.

      For Agnew to use this event to demand…..DEMAND, on the eve for a public apology from his critics is the final admission of yellow journalism. They couldn’t just let him take his bow. No, they had to make it political and then claim that we are the problem.

      Hanoi Agnew!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 10:10 am

    From the link above (Guardian OBO), read this:

    “There have been a lot of Cook stats going round in the last few days. This is my favourite: the most deliveries faced in Test cricket since Cook made his debut on 1 March 2006. Cook has faced 32 per cent more than anyone else. 32 per cent. No wonder he has nothing left in the tank.”

    Now look at this, ordered by matches played not balls faced:

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=matches;spanmin1=01+Mar+2006;spanval1=span;template=results;type=batting

    1) He’s played 38.8% more matches than Amla, next batsman on the list
    2) TBF, you should use Amla’s figure as the denominator for “more than anyone else” not Cook’s, so it’s 8,280/17,806, not 8,280/26,086. This is actually 46.5% more balls.
    3) It follows that Cook has actually faced more balls per match than Amla (162 v 153).
    3a) I’m actually making Cook look better, weird or what!
    4) The real point is context: Cook is more than 50% ahead of every other batsman’s total matches played (using their figure as denominator). Pietersen is fifth among batsmen on matches in spite of not playing for four and a half years.

    5) It’s actually immensely impressive. I’m certain that on, average balls per match, he’s the leading opener and (of the top 20 by balls faced) that he’s behind only Sangakkara (194!), Jayawardene, Dravid, Younis and Chanderpaul on average balls faced per match.

    It’s just that the original stat somehow obscures the actual achievement by disregarding context and using the wrong benchmark for the percentage.

    Like

    • thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 10:21 am

      Exactly. Cook has had a fine career, and one he should be proud of. This need to dress up everything and exaggerate it is utterly bizarre. We’re in a twilight zone where not agreeing that he’s the greatest opener in England history is deemed to be criticism and insufficiently respectful.

      Like

      • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 10:51 am

        Nobody doubts Cooks volume of runs or his mental and physical capabilities. In many ways he was a man for this era. (Numerous series, and back to back Test matches) Thats why his feats are more endurance than on the eye. As he he said, he got the most out of his ability. That is something to admire.

        But the media couldn’t leave it there. They try to pretend he was a god. Up there with Bradman. In my lifetime I have seen Garry Sobbers. I have seen The Richards (Viv & Barry) I have seen The Chappells, Boycott, Clive Lloyd, Gower. (Would any of these journos prefer to watch a Cook hundred above a Gower one? Honestly?) That doesn’t demean Cooks worth, but be honest.

        I have seen the coming and going of Sachin. His first hundred in England at 16 and two hundred odd days. I saw the genius of Lara. Cook is not off these types of batsman. He was an endurance guy. He didn’t sweat, and we were tirelessly told.

        For a comparison of style I would put him in with Graeme Smith of SA. Obdurate, left handed opening batsman who got the job done. But if you put it to the English cricket media that Smith was up their with the other greats they would piss themselves laughing. But for some bizarre reason they think the comparison with Cook should be taken seriously. Sorry, I can’t, and I never will.

        Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2018 / 11:28 am

      There are a lot of Cook stats going round in the last few days, presumably because people want to make the case that Cook is an all time great without mentioning his batting average.

      The other claim going round is that Cook has no ego. This is just silly. For a start, as the song goes, Ego is not a dirty word (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbQbmbNTyXU) and secondly when people refer to Cooks “bloody-mindedness” they are really referring to his ego.

      Like

  12. Zephirine Sep 7, 2018 / 10:26 am

    This is all about people who can’t admit they were wrong, ever. Cook can’t. Agnew can’t. Downton can’t. Selvey can’t. They have to keep self-justifying.

    The person from the KP saga who now looks most mature is KP, not because of what happened then but because he’s now got a new focus, new interests, has rebuilt his life and ‘moved on’ – funny, weren’t they telling us to do that?

    Liked by 4 people

    • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 10:35 am

      Quite. They proved it was about score-settling and Cook with the 2015 Ashes. Nothing’s changed.

      This – trailing an interview as THE last word on the Pietersen saga – is actually tawdry though. I’m now sat here wanting him to get a hundred for himself, yet fearing the tsunami that would follow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 10:41 am

        Started well. The wicket looks very un-Oval like. Fear is India are halfway to Heathrow.

        Like

        • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 11:02 am

          To be honest….They were half way to Heathrow when they landed.

          Interesting that the wicket looks very un Oval like. It’s amazing how often these days these test wickets are very unlike normal. Almost as if someone is ordering them up?

          My TV remains steadfastly switched off.

          Like

        • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 11:26 am

          Are you suggesting that a flat pitch has been ordered for a dead rubber Test match of obvious circumstantial or historic significance?

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 12:34 pm

            Looks bang on a big score here. Looked comfortable as if the pressure is off. Didn’t see too many tears in our area. Each time he makes contract someone goes “shot” behind me. Nice day for cricket…

            Like

        • Deep Purple Fred Sep 7, 2018 / 11:35 am

          Rumours that the MCG pitch has been mysteriously dug up and smuggled out of the country are entirely unfounded…

          Liked by 2 people

          • oreston Sep 7, 2018 / 12:07 pm

            Wouldn’t surprise me. Since last December that blessed sod, in all its benign roadiness, has become an artifact of cultural, historical and masturbatory significance.

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred Sep 7, 2018 / 4:28 pm

            It’s a very worrying trend in Australia. God knows what the new Waca is going to be like. It would be disasterous for Australian cricket if the pitches lose their character, any more than they already seem to have.

            Like

  13. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) Sep 7, 2018 / 11:02 am

    If Cook had nothing to do with Pietersen’s sacking – if he was just a poor innocent, caught in the crossfire – why did he make the effort to travel to the Danubius hotel in St John’s Wood in order to be present when Pietersen was sacked?

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 11:11 am

      Given his form and general “aplomb”, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Downton insisted on it. This would certainly fit with Cook’s reported embarrassed demeanour. He (PD) possessed not a scintilla of the foresight and awareness required to understand how the whole thing would look to (some) England fans who had just paid to endure that farce.

      It remains my belief that if half the cricket media hadn’t played first-class or Test cricket with him, he’d have been justifiably excoriated for his total and utter absence of common bleeding sense at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) Sep 7, 2018 / 12:17 pm

        Quite possibly, but Cook agreed, and went.

        Having done so, he takes authorship of the sacking. Yet he bleats to Agnew that it was everyone else’s fault.

        Like

        • Miami Dad's Six Sep 7, 2018 / 12:22 pm

          At best, he was a captain who picked the side of the suits over that of a fellow player.

          Like

        • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2018 / 12:54 pm

          Cook has also been quoted as saying he was relieved (I think he said like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders) when Strauss sacked KP for good.

          Like

  14. rpoultz Sep 7, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    If dear cookie scores a ton will the press mention that he was dropped like they frequently did when Kohli made his 149 in the first test…probably not is my guess.

    Like

    • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2018 / 1:10 pm

      I’d quite like him to get a 100.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 1:23 pm

        Frankly? Crowd around me bored.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2018 / 1:40 pm

          Let me try that again: I’d quite like to see Cook get a 100 but I could do without all the bullshit that would follow.

          Like

          • rpoultz Sep 7, 2018 / 1:52 pm

            The total BS that will follow is really not worth it. But everyone to their own.

            Like

          • Sophie Sep 7, 2018 / 2:34 pm

            I’m just happy if I never hear about his sweating again.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 2:35 pm

            I’ve had more exciting days at test cricket.

            Like

          • thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 2:43 pm

            So lacking in gratitude. Pipe down young man. After all, as Gower said a little while ago “The legend carries on”.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 2:45 pm

            123 for 1 at tea in a dead rubber. My goodness. It’ll be a while before I shall out 65 sheets for this again. What the hell is Mo doing?

            Like

          • thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 2:58 pm

            Playing for his position I would say. He can see an opportunity at 3. And fair enough too – it is a dead rubber after all. Be curious to see how many in the press make that point.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 2:59 pm

            Side on I know but Shami looked like he was bowling superbly with no luck. But wickets had to be taken.

            Like

          • dlpthomas Sep 7, 2018 / 3:45 pm

            Many of us have been complaining about 3 day test matches, modern batsmen throwing their wickets away, etc so surely we can’t complain when 2 top order batsmen knuckle down and fight for survival when faced with excellent bowling? This is proper test match cricket.

            Like

        • oreston Sep 7, 2018 / 5:10 pm

          Experienced opener manages to do his job reasonably well for the first time all series, after numerous disappointing failures, in a dead rubber game.

          Liked by 1 person

          • oreston Sep 7, 2018 / 5:17 pm

            Mind you, looking at the rest of the score card, if this is the thanks he gets when he finally DOES give the team some sort of a platform to build a decent innings perhaps he’s better off out of it.

            Like

          • d'Arthez Sep 7, 2018 / 5:46 pm

            Cook averages nearly 30 in lost Tests. Which is pretty good. Bear in mind that among openers only Sutcliffe averages over 50, and only Hutton and Hobbs average 40 (among openers; minimum of 10 lost matches).

            Like

    • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 2:41 pm

      If ever anything had been written, this is it.

      Get ready for Melbourne to the power of Southampton.

      On both sides.

      Like

  15. thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 2:08 pm

    The bit that’s annoying me at the moment is this idea that Cook’s runs count for more because he did it as an opener.

    This presupposes several things:

    First, that he would have scored more/averaged more if he played in the middle order. This is nonsense. He’s an opener because of how he plays, not how good he is. In the same way that a Pietersen or Bell wouldn’t have been effective as openers, Cook wouldn’t have been effective at number five.

    Second, that he’s only the second opener to score 10,000 runs. Yes, and longevity is impressive. But there are four other primary batting positions, and only two opening positions. Why would it surprise anyone there are more players from 3-6 in the list?

    Third, if facing the new ball skews it so much, are we now going to say spinners’ wickets count double? They spend most of their careers with the old ball, not the new. And they love the bounce and grip of the new ball. It’s not given to spinners because seamers are more effective with it. Duh.

    Cook was an opener because his mental approach to the game made him one, not because he kindly volunteered to shield a cowering middle order. Batting roles are different through the team, and people usually end up where they’re best suited.

    Liked by 2 people

    • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2018 / 3:28 pm

      And, the middle order sometimes has to face a new ball or 2. If you play for England, the middle order always seems to face a new ball. Botham’s classic against Lillee was mostly scored against a new ball 😁

      Like

  16. northernlight71 Sep 7, 2018 / 2:21 pm

    Selvey will pretty soon be an old and mainly ignored bore, sitting in the corner of a country pub ranting on at nobody in particular. He’ll still get his freebies into matches and be tolerated on the edge of the “journalism” crowd but he’ll be less and less relevant. His coterie at the Guardian diminishes every day.We should just “do a KP” and get on with the worthwhile stuff in our lives while he carries on stumbling self-righteously into his dotage.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    I must ask: was his 50 really “acclaimed like a double hundred” as per the Guardian OBO?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 2:48 pm

      I was here for Tres’s double. No.

      See my convo with Booth on Twitter.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Sep 7, 2018 / 2:51 pm

        Yes. Warm. A nice hand, a few stood up around me. But the crowd are bored. Really bored.

        Like

        • Mark Sep 7, 2018 / 3:26 pm

          I’m bored, and I’m not watching any of it.

          I actually hope he gets a hundred just to see who in the media can make the biggest fools of themselves. The real contest is not on the field, but in the press box as to who can grovel lowest.

          Who will be the most pious, surgery coated, imbecilic brown noser? The competition for tit of the year year is very strong. There is even an outside chance that when he scores the final run one of these clowns head will self explode in delirium.

          It will be worth it just do see one of them self combust in ecstasy.

          Like

  18. nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 3:10 pm

    Piers Morgan currently quoting England Test batting averages higher than Cook’s and being told he doesn’t understand Test cricket. The “hiding in the middle order” argument getting a fair old airing from those who allegedly do understand it…..

    Like

    • thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      Some might say this is another way of saying he’s outside cricket…

      Like

    • thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      And here I’ll say that yes he did get a standing ovation, and quite right too. As a player of 159 Tests and that many runs should do. Irrespective of who it is.

      That’s kind of the point.

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel Sep 7, 2018 / 4:13 pm

        Indeed, if I were there I would have applauded with the rest. The fact that he got out without either making a match defining score or playing a virtuoso Dexter or KP innings would also be part of my thoughts

        Liked by 1 person

  19. thelegglance Sep 7, 2018 / 3:38 pm

    Now, they could go with either Cook as top scorer starting the collapse, or Cook bravely standing up when others failed.

    The irony being that the latter is ALWAYS how it should go, but isn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol Sep 7, 2018 / 3:52 pm

      Ah-ha, just checked into my hotel and checked the score, and of course someone had beaten me to my point.

      I wonder indeed 🤔

      Like

  20. metatone Sep 7, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    What might have beens are always questionable, but I watch some of the balls Bumrah is producing and say if he’d been fit from the off it might have been a tight series.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Rooto Sep 7, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    Very happy for Jadeja. Indian team politics seem equally murky, and I can’t really see why Jadeja wasn’t playing by Trent Bridge at the latest.

    Liked by 1 person

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