England vs India: Fifth Test, Day Four – The Long Farewell.

Inevitable really.  Once he’d survived the new ball, it was written in the stars that Cook would finish off with a century, and while fairy tale endings are rare in sport, this one just seemed like it was always going to happen.  Cook batted better than he has done for a couple of years, the mental freedom gained by the decision to retire lending a fluidity and, dare I say it, style that had been absent for even longer than his best form.

Of course, scoring a century meant that some were all too quick to say he shouldn’t retire at all, a superb missing of the context of this final innings if ever there was one.  Yet with Cook, this happens all too often – the determination not to allow his record to speak for itself, but to demand and insist that it be recognised as something far more has caused irritation where it was never required.  This peculiar demand that “greatness” be recognised without qualification, often by those who insist otherwise when it isn’t a player they are so keen on has managed to generate ill feeling where a final superb innings should have been cause for celebration for all, even those who may have objected to the media beatification of him over the years.

For Cook has been a truly excellent opener for England, with a record that reflects longevity, skill and mental strength.  He deserves the plaudits for an outstanding career as a batsman, and if his ability as captain wasn’t at the same level, he’s not the first and won’t be the last of whom that will be said.  His achievements do not need artificially inflating, and particularly not if the intention is to try to prove some kind of point about the moral rightness of past decisions rather than a player being judged on his own merits.  Any player.

For Cook, the best tribute that can be paid to him is the one he said himself – that he was the best player he could possibly be.  There have been many more talented, but few have extracted the maximum from their ability the way he has.  As both a statement of record, and indeed as advice and aspiration for any cricketer, at whatever level, it is profoundly important, and the one he may well be most proud about.   His weaknesses as a batsman were obvious, his flaws laid bare particularly when out of form and struggling technically.  Yet his strengths too were substantial, perhaps nothing quite so much as an extraordinary degree of concentration.  He will be partly defined by the fall out that led to the sacking of Kevin Pietersen, and the sides taken in that argument.  Both of those batsmen have departed the scene now, but the schism in English cricket remains, and is by far a more troubling and damaging issue than two players.  Perhaps both will reflect on their parts in that, perhaps not, but the personalisation of the whole affair reflected badly on all sides.

Today was a day for paying tribute to an excellent player, and deservedly so.  If few get the opportunity to go out in style, players of distinction do at least deserve to be recognised properly for their contributions.  This appears too much to ask, sometimes.

If Cook was all about saying farewell, for Root it was for smacking down those who complained about his clear pulling of rank in terms of batting at number four.  He looked more fluent and in command than he has all summer, and while a dead rubber is hardly the time to make definitive judgements, allowing England’s best player to bat where he feels most comfortable is surely the best way forward rather than trying to patch weaknesses elsewere with him.

The two of them took the game far beyond India, who were already going through the motions midway through the day and simply waiting for the England declaration.  The usual fun and games late on added to the total, and with the target an improbable 464, Root finally decided enough was enough.

If India were going through the motions with the ball, they had one foot on the plane home with the bat, as James Anderson threatened to steal some of Cook’s thunder by drawing level with Glenn McGrath on the all time list.  There’s an irony here – in the determination of some to do all possible to inflate Cook’s record, a particular line has emerged about him being worth far more due to opening the batting in England against the Duke ball.  Yet if that is accepted, it automatically lessens Anderson’s achievements on English pitches using the same Duke ball.  Watching certain observers attempt to square that particular circle could prove amusing.

Rahul and Rahane steadied the ship from 2-3, but this game is more or less done, and England are almost certain to win it 4-1.  India should be wondering how this has happened, England will just be relieved that it has.  The future is an unknown except that at the end of play tomorrow, there’s only one candidate for that Man of the Match award.

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116 thoughts on “England vs India: Fifth Test, Day Four – The Long Farewell.

  1. nonoxcol September 10, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    Do you think that, if Jadeja saved the match with an unbeaten century, they would still give it to Cook?

    Like

      • nonoxcol September 10, 2018 / 5:54 pm

        Oh I agree with you. I think it would be one of the most transparent, sentimental and indefensible things I’ve ever seen in cricket though. I’m also saying that my scenario is literallly the only one that should deprive Cook of the award.

        Like

        • thelegglance September 10, 2018 / 6:01 pm

          Here’s a different question though: forget about it being England, forget about it being Cook. Say it was Sangakkara, or Dravid, or Ponting or Tendulkar. Would you mind so much?

          I can’t get too bothered about a little sentimentality at the end of a player’s career.

          Like

          • nonoxcol September 10, 2018 / 6:09 pm

            I’d think it was the wrong decision and see it as transparent and sentimental, yes.

            I’m almost sure this is all academic anyway.

            Like

          • thelegglance September 10, 2018 / 6:15 pm

            I’m not sure I worded that very well. Obviously the wrong decision yes, but would it bother you?

            I’m just trying to be self-analytical here really.

            Like

          • nonoxcol September 10, 2018 / 6:17 pm

            It would bother me like some other dodgy match awards. That is, not for very long but I’d recall them
            With mild distaste.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance September 10, 2018 / 6:18 pm

            I just chuckled as I remembered the John Abrahams one. 30 years on!

            Like

    • volkerelle September 11, 2018 / 2:47 pm

      Not Jadeja maybe, but this is soo on!

      Like

  2. Mark September 10, 2018 / 6:08 pm

    I just find the whole thing really funny now. Nobody begrudges Cook having his big send off. It’s the media that have made fools of themselves.

    I’m glad Cook got his hundred just so the media could give us one more chance to show us what morons they are. They never disappoint!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. man in a barrel September 10, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    I think the problem with Cook is that, for at least 5 years, he has been the contestant in Masterchef who comes up with something great after he is nearly out of the competition. When has he made the great dish when the competition was in the balance?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Northern Light September 10, 2018 / 7:32 pm

    Today has been a complete (redacted) – fest. The media have been collapsing over themselves trying to outdo each other with emotional exaggeration. It’s been a pathetic parade of fanboys and groupies holding their collective breath and desperate to wring every last gram of sadness they can out of every tiny gesture surrounding the Cook circus.
    He’s been playing for a long time. It’s going to be emotional for him, naturally. He deserves a decent send off. But this just reminds me of the idiocy surrounding the death of Diana. Cricket has become a sideshow. It’s unbearable.
    Let me know when it’s over. Or on second thoughts, don’t bother. English cricket has disappeared into a pit of slurry.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. quebecer September 10, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    Well, in the end, my appreciation for any sportsperson who has achieved what Alistair Cook has overcome my distaste for what the press and the weirder section of the unwashed masses feel they want to say about him.

    A century on debut and a century in his final game all these years later – plus another 31 in between – is special. No need for comparisons, or allowing the retarded nature of others who for some reason need to appropriate his achievements affect how I feel about it.

    Well batted, Alistair Cook, well batted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance September 10, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Yes, me too. His record is worthy of the deepest respect, and that deserved the send off and the conclusion that he got. The other stuff drives me nuts, and Cook is responsible for some of it. But I was reminded of how graceless people were over Pietersen, ignoring what he achieved. I’m not going to be that person.

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      • oreston September 10, 2018 / 8:23 pm

        Agreed. Fantastic way for a fine (though flawed) player to end his time as a Test batsman. Freed-up by his decision to retire, this was his best innings in a very, very long time – seemingly banishing the mental gremlins that dogged him as much as his all too evidently waning powers during the latter part of his career. I may have sounded like a bitter (if, I think, factually correct) c**t in some of my comments on the previous post. However what I was missing was a sense of proportion from our chums in the media. There was really no need for the loyal addresses and selective stat mining today (or on any day over the last five years, come to that). As a worthy cricket story it would’ve stood on it’s own merits.
        And hey? Allowing for it being a dead rubber, end of term encounter with India already mentally back home, what a day’s play and what an England performance? When did they last post a score over 400 with the bulk of the runs coming from the top order? (Perhaps more pertinently, when will it happen again?) From Cook’s magnificent sunset, and Root rediscovering his mojo at number four, to the fantasy cricket of reducing India to 2 for 3… wow. I don’t begrudge the ovation Cook received from the crowd when he was finally out and it was great to see every single Indian player shake his hand. You know what? In things like that I actually think Kohli’s team is a great advertisement for the spirit of the game. Team ECB? Not so much.

        Liked by 4 people

          • oreston September 11, 2018 / 1:47 am

            Indeed. A series he did naff all to win with his dire contributions in the first four Tests. So what enabled this sudden and belated return to form? I think the answer is purely psychological in nature.
            Only recently have there been even the politest of suggestions from a few people inside cricket that perhaps he should deign to give some thought to the possibility of abdicating and spending more time with his sheep. Nonetheless I suspect he’s been privately quite tormented by his waning powers and the realisation that he was no longer justifying a place in the team. In that case the media spinning him as an undroppable demigod and creating a ridiculous cult of personality around him was an act of involuntary cruelty. It imprisoned him (in the final stages of his international career) within his own frustration as his technique faltered and form eluded him. Put simply, somebody needed to put him out of his misery and drop him but for various reasons (that most of us are familiar with) nobody did – even suggesting that it was for Alastair to decide how long he wanted to go on.
            He’s said that he wrested with that decision for about 18 months before announcing his retirement, though for much of that time he was clearly still raging against the dying of the light. Strong willed in the sense of having an enviable facility for perseverance, he is nonetheless I think also weak in the sense of being indecisive and unable to carry out clear analysis or effect change when required (a good captain this did not make him).
            I would surmise that a wearying cycle ensued of diminishing returns with the bat and having to work ever harder even to try to slow down the decline. But failure feeds failure and this herculean effort to little effect could only continue for so long – even with a naturally solipsistic personality and prodigious powers of concentration and application.
            With the present series won and the pressure off going into this match, he eventually bowed to the bleeding obvious and granted himself permission to stop striving to be what he could no longer be. Paradoxically, the sense of relief and release that stemmed from that is what must’ve enabled him to relax sufficiently to pull one last good Test match performance out of the hat. With the monkey off his back he’ll probably flay county trundlers next season.

            Liked by 3 people

          • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 5:23 am

            All of which makes more sense than Barney Ronay’s idea that retirement is clearly wrong in sporting terms.

            27.39.

            Cook’s average in live Tests since resigning as captain. And that includes a 243.

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          • Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 9:36 am

            Strong willed in the sense of having an enviable facility for perseverance, he is nonetheless I think also weak in the sense of being indecisive and unable to carry out clear analysis or effect change when required That seems to me like a very insightful summing-up of Cook, as far as we can ever know what he’s like from where we all sit.

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    • Zephirine September 10, 2018 / 8:11 pm

      Although, of course, in some situations an opening bat getting a century wouldn’t be all that remarkable. It’s just that in recent years this particular one has made it the norm for an opener to make 12.

      Oh well. Like I said on the other thread, it’s all been rather Land of Cook and Glory, but for people who like that sort of thing, they’ve had a good time. Nice to see people happy, and it’s probably been the most Cook has provided in terms of sheer entertainment in his long career.

      Like

      • thelegglance September 10, 2018 / 8:12 pm

        The one I loved, the one I genuinely loved and sat through with mounting disbelief and utter joy, was the 235 at Brisbane.

        Innocent days eh?

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        • Rohan September 10, 2018 / 8:37 pm

          Yes that was very special as was seeing that scoreboard, was it 517/1, or something like that, incredible and at the gabbatoire of all places!

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        • Mark September 10, 2018 / 8:47 pm

          One of the things that came across in Dmitris tribute to Cook last week was not just the passing of Cook, but the passing of Test cricket. For example the reminders of Cook’s greatest series in 2010/11 made you realise how different Tests are now absorbed. And four years before in 2007 (Whatever happened in Adelaide?) And four years before in 2005

          The importance of those matches, the belief that Test cricket was the unchallenged pinnacle of the game has now been lost. The tension, the staying up through the night, the sense of history, I find has all but gone. (Maybe that’s just me?) Last years Ashes had a lesser feel about it. It didn’t have that same feeling at all. I can’t put my finger on it, but I suspect it’s the coming of 20/20.

          Slightly disconcerting watching The Aussie 20/20 matches getting bigger crowds than the Test matches. 20/20 was brought in to save cricket, and it has changed it fundamentally. The so called giant mess regards 16.4 just confirms that.

          How can it be the same when Butler gets paid millions to play IPL? What is really more important to a player now? And it will only increase. Add to that The ECBs decision to not play Test cricket in the warmest parts of the summer, and something has been lost. And it ain’t just Cook.

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          • Rohan September 10, 2018 / 9:17 pm

            Yes I definitely have similar feelings! Maybe it’s just getting older.

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  6. Mark September 10, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    Funniest comment by accident on five live just a few minutes ago on the football section. They are talking about selection for the England football team, and Mark Chapman compares how in the 1990s a new cricketer used to come in for one test match at the Oval, score some runs, and then get on a tour.

    To which Chris Sutton says “Everybody scores runs at The Oval.” There then follows a Long, long silence, in which you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Then a complete horror of what has just been said on this special day of all days.

    Shinny toy on now, so switched off.

    Like

    • oreston September 10, 2018 / 9:49 pm

      Off to the Gulag for Chris Sutton..

      Like

  7. Rohan September 10, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    “Means Cook is Test cricket’s most successful left-handed batsman”

    This is why it’s hard to take. This was one of the summary headlines on the TMS feed, when I checked online earlier. It is referring to Cook going past Sanga, in terms of test runs scored. A completely idiotic sweeping statement, most runs, well he must be most successful then. What about career average? What about test centuries made? What about how many tests it took to make those runs? What about when the runs were scored or who against? What about number of MoM performances?

    That kind of statement is clearly not Cooks fault, but it turns me away and distances me from what he has achieved. Regardless, I know who I would have as my test leftie and I am afraid it ain’t Cook, one Mr B C L or Kumar.

    On another note, I was absolutely chuffed for Root. I hope this really helps him going forwards!

    Liked by 2 people

    • quebecer September 10, 2018 / 9:34 pm

      In that sense, Graeme Pollock was possibly the least successful left hander of all time. Sobers’ career must also therefore be seen as really quite disappointing. And don’t get me started on that grossly unsuccessful loser Clive Lloyd.

      Liked by 2 people

      • BoredInAustria September 11, 2018 / 5:02 am

        I remember how the grounds in SA gave Pollock a standing ovation just coming in to bat. Legend.

        Like

  8. Sherwick September 10, 2018 / 9:10 pm

    All of this today reminds me of what might have been…
    It could all have been so different.
    I think Cook was a very nice person when he started for England back in 2006, just after the epic summer of 2005.
    Somewhere, somehow, it all went horribly wrong, for a myriad of reasons…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 7:08 am

      I wonder if for just one second someone rejoicing yesterday asked themselves why some still can’t bring themselves to do so? People committed to England cricket who turned away? Or not.

      This is the ultimate triumph of good. A man eschewing personal achievement with the most personal achievement. His fans, and there are many, love him. Let them have this moment.

      I hope once he’s gone, and the pieces we need to get off our chests are written we can finally “move on”. But I doubt it.

      Like

  9. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) September 10, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    I’m sorry I’ve not commented properly here in the last few days, but I’ve found it more cathartic to engage people with opposing views, via Twitter, than to engage with a more like-minded audience, here.

    But apologies nonetheless.

    If any of you have the masochistic patience to glance at my Twitter feed you’ll have noticed that I have been extremely robust in my attempts to counter the nonsense and misconceptions which have flooded the crickosphere in the last five days.

    My friends think I’m completely mad and more than a little unpleasant. They think I’m making a fool of myself, and I’ve been described as a maniac, a laughing stock, self-regarding, bitter, twisted, and worse besides. That’s fine. I don’t care if people hate me. I don’t care if everyone laughs at me. I don’t care if everyone in the world thinks I’m wrong.

    What I do care about is the sheer injustice of what has unfolded.

    Cook was instrumental in ending a team-mate’s career, for no good reason, yet he is eulogised, fawned over, beatified, and lauded as the most perfect, flawless, virtuous hero the game has ever known.

    Pietersen was tricksy and awkward but never caused a team-mate harm, yet his career ended in indignity, injustice, and abuse.

    Cook attended Pietersen’s sacking, agreed to it, empowered it, and was utterly party to it. He has never explained why he did so (despite promising to at an Essex press conference in April 2014), and never apologised. In his interview with Agnew on Friday, he adopted the most cowardly stance possible – by simultaneously trying to take credit for it, but also distancing himself from it. He has never apologised to Pietersen, or to the supporters who were so upset by it. When speaking to Agnew, Cook blamed the ECB, not himself, and cared only about how badly it affected *him*, as if he, not Pietersen, were the real victim. He cares not one jot for the effect it might have had on the man whose career was ended.

    Cook, who did all this, who help destroy a man’s career to save his own – what does he get? He’s feted, celebrated, deified, and treated, at the Oval today, to the most exuberantly gushing farewell in English modern sporting history.

    Pietersen, who did nothing remotely similar, was denied a farewell, and denied that farewell, in part, by Cook. What did he get? The closest he came to a farewell was the MCC v Rest of the World fixture, when he got booed, and then Andrew Strauss called him a c***.

    Cook – who in the last six years has averaged 40 and made eight centuries – is trumpeted, by the press, by the ECB, and in person, as one of the greatest of all time.

    Pietersen – 8,100 test runs at 47, and at the time of the sacking the highest all-formats run-scorer in English history – got nothing.

    Cook gets speeches from Andrew Strauss and ‘Thank You Chef’ on the Lord’s scoreboard.

    Pietersen got nothing.

    Pietersen is far from the only great English test cricketer whose career ended without fanfare.

    But he’s the only one who’s had to witness the fanfare for the man who sacked him.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sherwick September 10, 2018 / 10:52 pm

      Well said Maxie!
      Couldn’t have put it any better myself.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 12:06 am

      I was at the funeral of a great friend today. If anyone wonders why radio silence. It kept me from social media. It kept me from Agnew who really let himself down with a tweet I just saw. It kept me from any abuse going out there. Made a change if there wasn’t any.

      My friends and I were hurting today. We gave Mike a good send off and that’s all I care about today.

      Liked by 1 person

    • BobW September 11, 2018 / 6:43 am

      Brilliantly put Maxie. For the record I’ve been following and admiring your battles on twitter. I might not agree with everything you’ve said but you have my total respect. You are right. He sacrificed a team mates career to save his own. That’s all that needs to be said.

      Like

    • man in a barrel September 11, 2018 / 7:53 am

      Injustice certainly but also the way normal rules of behaviour and selection were trampled upon, bent and twisted to ensure that a talented batsman could never be selected, regardless of the runs he scored and that someone else was guaranteed selection regardless of how few runs he scored.

      The world turned upside down and we have seen how the strain worked out on Chef. Imagine being told that he could decide when to stand down, especially one as obdurate and thin-skinned as Cook. For all his claims of not following the media, it is clear that he loved to make his critics eat their words – it comes across so often in his interviews – so you can imagine him over the last few years, desperate to conjure up another great innings but only able to do it once it didn’t really matter. Eventually he had to accept reality.

      It could have been different. He could have asked not to be selected until he got his form back. Boycott did that several times before his walk out in 1974. No selector could have ignored a Cook churning out the runs for Essex. But they didn’t take the sensible path because that would expose how they had determinedly trampled over the tenets of selection previously. They would lose face (even though we know what hollow men they are).

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 8:09 am

        They do realise Cook’s confession pre-test made pretty much all we said at the time correct? I’ll explain later this week or early next.

        Like

          • OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 1:48 pm

            Indeed, we were right, he knows it, and that’s why he has not ever clarified anything (even the interview with Agnew was obfuscating rubbish).

            I’m just hoping for a draw, it would be typical that Cook only gets runs on a pitch that produces a draw!!

            Like

          • OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 2:12 pm

            It’s about 4.8 an over. A couple of wickets also kills it, but we can hope (and that would leave a slightly better more realistic series scoreline))

            Like

  10. Julie Gould September 10, 2018 / 10:40 pm

    Thank you Maxie Allen. You have said it all for me. I haven’t talked to people but it’s all inside.Bitter and twisted? I don’t think so . It was all such an INJUSTICE. That’s where my frustrations are.KP did not deserve the way he was treated. He was one of Englands great batsmen, a joy to watch and dispite what some may say a lovely person.Cook and ECBs desire to see an “Englishman ” at the top of the score books, so had to destroy the competition, absolutely disgusts me. Be happy, KP. At least you can be proud of yourself.

    Like

  11. Zephirine September 10, 2018 / 10:50 pm

    Well said, Maxie. I see KP sent a nice tweet to Cook, who hasn’t spoken to him for four years.

    Like

  12. Rpoultz September 11, 2018 / 5:19 am

    Wake up this morning to the vomit inducing tweets from Agnew. Total impartiality as a journalist and a broadcaster has now totally vanished. I knew this week was going to be bad but I didn’t realise how bad. Also don’t get me started in the press getting cook 33 beers for each of his test tons. What is that really all about?

    Like

    • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 7:28 am

      This one?

      So first of all he encourages PM to apologise on the strength of an interview which, as Maxie points out, isn’t exactly an open and shut case.

      PM attempts to say something magnanimous, which is more than 90% of the cricket media could manage about another man’s pretty good career in 2014. Selvey probably still thinks that “the intention was to have feted him properly” was concession enough. Among the consequences are: loads of people *still* think he texted South Africans about getting his captain out (for instance); and loads still ascribe his sacking to the 2012 incident – after which he was reinstated – because there is nothing significant in the public domain that explains 2013/14.

      And he writes that, and revels in the retweets and praise. Interesting that Cook doesn’t give a fuck, when we heard so much about this pressure he was under in 2014, almost none of which was from an overwhelmingly supportive mainstream media. So whose criticism was affecting him, if not that of the most high-profile and vocal supporter of Pietersen? Who was “outside cricket” directed at, if not ditto? Lest we forget, that infamous press release was specifically about shoring up Alastair Cook as captain at the same time as telling sceptics to shut up and know their place.

      https://collythorpeii.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/copy-know-your-place-11-february-2014/

      Shouldn’t be surprised to see such revisionist cakeism from TMS, I guess.

      I’ve wavered a bit over the last few days, but I’m with Maxie, and the schism is irreparable as far as I’m concerned.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Sherwick September 11, 2018 / 8:49 am

        don’t you just love em!

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        • glenn September 11, 2018 / 9:50 am

          Aggers has gone mad! He even had a go at the poster Mark on here – on Mark’s Twitter! Very odd.

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          • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 9:56 am

            Not sure that’s Mark from here. In fact I know it’s not. It’s that oddball who impersonated us a couple of years ago with a changed handle.

            He/ she comes on here, takes a comment and then runs it at who he/ she thinks will get riled. Mark will confirm this.

            Like

      • rpoultz September 11, 2018 / 10:31 am

        Yes this was the one referring to. Also there was another of him pictured with Cook. Just nauseating. Obviously Agnew had a few drinks and was feeling brave with his bestie Cook

        Like

      • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) September 11, 2018 / 1:32 pm

        Agnew is utterly, utterly obsessed with getting revenge on Piers Morgan – for daring to impugn his hero, and for daring, as someone ‘outside’ the tent, to try to take control of the agenda.

        The irony is that PM doesn’t remotely care what JA says about him. Whether you like PM or not, you’d have to concede he has a thicker skin than JA (admittedly, not difficult).

        it was this fixation with PM which inspired Agnew to berate and bully the TFT blog in 2014 over Tregaskis’s ‘Turtle Tank’ piece. Agnew was astonished that I refused to obey his orders and edit out a section on Flower he disagreed with.

        Agnew’s feverish excitement over the (erroneous) vindication of Cook, and for the triumphalism of the last few days, has been rather unedifying to witness.

        Liked by 2 people

      • OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 1:55 pm

        Yep, I’m with Maxie (Spartacus).
        The deluge of gushing love is ridiculous. Counting his fucking ovations, they are just a bunch of sycophantic see you next tuesdays (apologies to Zeph et al, I mean that in a Kathy Burke non misogynistic usage sense (see her twitter feed)).

        Fed up with this, he’s not the messiah, he’s not the greatest left-hand test batsman, he is just a very limited player who had the focus to make the best of his ability at the highest level. He should be commended for that, but I struggle to deal with the lack of unbiased reporting on him as a player and person.

        I would love to know what Gideon Haigh thinks about him

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 7:30 am

    Flicking through various Guardian eulogies, it’s genuinely difficult to decide if the comments are meant seriously or are tongue in cheek.

    “A true great. He has given everything to English cricket. And never a whiff of controversy or bad behaviour.”

    “The last English test match batsman. We won’t see another, it really is the end of an era.”

    “The sad truth is that in T20 era many KPs will come and go, but another cook is unlikely.”

    “Cook’s 147 continuing the fight for women’s rights.”

    Pretty sure that last one was tongue in cheek, but can’t be certain.

    A bit alarming we’re not going to see any more English test match batsmen. The Ashes are going to be a bit one sided next year, as long as they just bowl at the stumps.

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 7:34 am

      English cricket has completely lost its head over this guy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 7:38 am

        Weird isn’t it? I can respect his achievements as a player and recognise them. But the media? It’s a moral crusade.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 7:44 am

          Has been since 2014. The irony of Lawrence accusing me of a closed mind on Friday was funny.

          Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 7:44 am

        I’ve just pointed this out:

        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/sep/10/alastair-cook-england-viking-farewell#comment-120300081

        I’m shaking my head. It’s absolutely bizarre. I would (generously given his average) bracket him alongside Smith and Sehwag and above Langer, making the concession based on longevity and certain key series and innings. But even this appears to be too much for some: they want him up there with your Gavaskars and Huttons etc. And the English opinion-formers will make sure it happens as well.

        There’s someone’s best English XI of the last 40 years further down: they’ve left out the man with the highest batting average in that time. So it will be, I fear. I’ve always said that the most hateful consequence of 2014 is the likely long-term effect on the comparative reputations of those two batsmen.

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 7:56 am

          “For Cook to be in that list from such a difficult position as opener is maybe English cricket’s greatest acheivement (sic); certainly as a batsmen.”

          Now he’s England cricket’s greatest achievement!

          Maybe it’s Brexit angst that’s amping-up this end-of-days/moral crusade feeling. England as we knew it is finished. A turbulent time for England, and in the middle of it we lose every mother’s favorite son in law.

          Like

          • OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 1:59 pm

            Oh god, when Australian’s are taking the piss in a condescending manner it must end of times 🙂 😉 😉

            Can’t wait for the Ashes, as you say we will be playing with no batsmen (a bit like this series really)

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 5:44 pm

            Not at all Oscar, just enjoying the humour of the moment! I have a feeling Australia will be supplying some humour too in the not too distant future.

            First, you suspend your best two batsmen (at least England only fired their best one)…

            Like

    • Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 9:42 am

      “many KPs will come and go” – so we’ll have many batsmen that Michael Holding, and others who should know, will consider to be the best England player of recent times? Well, that’ll be rather good, then, won’t it? Perhaps we’ll even manage without Cook.

      Like

    • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 8:05 am

      “He was arguably the most important team player to have been fired from any mainstream sport in this country. If he struggled, so did England”.

      This bollocks is easy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 8:06 am

      It’s Martin Samuel on cricket. Enough said.

      Saw someone say yesterday was better than 2005. Just leave that there….

      Like

      • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 8:16 am

        That’s what you get when you start a cult.

        Saw a couple of reasonable comments below Samuel’s splurge: one about dead rubbers, one about FTA, Moore, Wilkinson and cricket’s declining relevance. Both hammered with red down arrows while all the cheerleading stuff is green.

        I think this is it for life now. Fairytale ending, legend sealed, all bumps in the road forgotten.

        Like

        • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 8:27 am

          There’s one thing to bear in mind there: most people don’t pay that close attention, particularly when it comes to newspaper articles on sport. So they see the end of Cook and have little interest in that kind of detail and neither know nor care – it just looks churlish to them.
          I’ve got friends who play cricket, who have a close interest in the game, who openly tell me that they aren’t aware of and don’t understand much of what is written on this site. That’s intelligent people who play, who live and breathe cricket, yet don’t look that closely.
          I had a conversation with one yesterday who didn’t grasp that Smith played for as long as Cook, but had fewer Tests available to him because his national team didn’t play as many. This is a cricket nut, and an intelligent man.
          Let’s take a football analogy, because that sport is far more popular and ubiquitous than cricket can ever hope to be. It has 20m+ watching the World Cup, millions watch Match of the Day or Sky or BT. Endless newsprint about it all. And still you get constant comments like “why doesn’t Sterling play for England like he does for City?” , oblivious to the most basic of points that he plays in a different position (winger for City, number 10 for England).
          This is basic stuff. THE most basic of stuffs. Yet it goes over their heads. So why would they even be remotely aware of the decline of Cook or the context of his runs in a minority sport hidden away from view?
          The media won’t put out challenging articles to make them think when instead they can go for the lowest common denominator that is uncontroversial and simple. And it gets lapped up, always.

          Liked by 2 people

          • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 8:38 am

            Yes, and at the same time what does the casual fan make of Pietersen now? What has been the effect of the simplistic narrative?

            Which takes me back to my main concern expressed a few posts up. There will be those with long enough memories to think of thirteen years ago tomorrow. There will be those who know his average, how far ahead he was of others before 2009, and that he contributed significantly (but less than Cook, Bell and Trott) during the peak years of Flower. I fear there will be an increasing number who know or think about only post-2012 (and not those last four hundreds, everything else).

            Like

          • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 8:45 am

            Perhaps. I suspect the vast majority don’t overly care one way or the other. Away from the febrile world of social media, when was the last time you got into an argument about Pietersen or Cook? It’s been ages for me.

            The usual response is that they don’t really understand what went on there, and if they’ve forgotten about Pietersen, before too long they’ll have forgotten about Cook too.

            It’s FAR more important for the media to push this narrative and justify where they’ve been over the last few years, but while the whole thing there infuriates me, and Maxie is quite correct about how the whole thing is akin to airbrushing, I have serious doubts as to whether many beyond us lot are paying attention.

            Here’s the one bright spot. In those casual conversations, when it comes to Pietersen, the comments are more often about how bloody good he was rather than anything else.

            That’s why I don’t mind paying tribute to Cook as a very fine player (but not as good as the press want to insist), and separate out the vile way the media play it as a moral crusade. I have respect for one of those elements, and not the other.

            Liked by 2 people

          • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 11:22 am

            Lots of really good, important points Chris. I would say this. The posts about Cook were always the ones I wrote that got most hits since KP’s sacking. Cook, like it or not, became a polarising figure, even though the vast majority of the media pretend it isn’t. We know, we know very well, that some of those eulogising him today and yesterday share some, if not all, of our views. We aren’t that far off the beaten track.

            Having said it is not about the hits so many times, one might say it’s hypocritical to carry on writing about Cook. I was very quiet yesterday for very good reasons (a good friend’s funeral) and really don’t feel like commenting on it today. Some find it easier to separate the free pass Cook got after 2014, from the Cook of yesterday. Some never had that issue at all. I still find it tough to cheer him on, especially when it went into overdrive after Melbourne. Yesterday was always going to be like that if he made a hundred. A great way to go out for an England great. His fans and the cricketing public can enjoy it as much as they like.

            But for some, like me, I can’t separate the man from the free pass. So at times like this, I have to shut up and let the people rejoice if they want to. I’m not a Maxie. I don’t want to fight any more. I didn’t want to fight in the first place.

            Quoting myself from the post “Schism

            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.

            The schism remains, and will continue to do so. I feel cut adrift from England cricket, I feel betrayed by the authority that runs the game, both in terms of domestic teams and on the international administrative stage, and it shows no signs of abating. It’s both sides to “blame”, whether you like it or not. Where there’s no signs of meeting in the middle, we’ll continue being torn apart.

            Have a think, next time you question our support for the game. Have a think. Because I’ve never questioned yours. Just your judgement. As you, on the other side, no doubt do with ours.

            Agnew et al know perfectly well why we are like we are.

            Like

          • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 11:31 am

            Yes, it is quite amusing to read some of the stuff from people we know don’t buy into it at all, it’s contractual obligation writing.

            I guess where I sit is that some of Cook’s behaviour hasn’t been great, especially in 2014 and since, but he’s no more an angel than anyone else. I can live with his flaws, while happily pointing out the kind of stuff that is ignored.

            What I don’t forgive is the media side of things. Individual sports people have feet of clay like anyone else. The media behaving as cheerleaders and failing to hold the ECB or Cook himself to account is infinitely worse, because it’s Cook’s job to score runs. It’s their job to do some investigation.

            Or rather it isn’t – it’s their real job to sell papers and obtain clicks. Which is fine, but don’t spin me this bollocks about it being a noble calling when they don’t abide by that independence.

            Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel September 11, 2018 / 9:30 am

      Bobby Moore was unceremoniously sacked for a poor performance against Poland in a World Cup qualifier. As Wikipedia says,

      “Moore’s form had dipped enough for Ramsey to choose not to select him for the return game at Wembley which England had to win to qualify”

      Normal rules of selection applied. He did not get a Farewell

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 9:47 am

    There may be some who are feeling relieved that after today the who focus on Cook will subside to more reasonable levels, and he’ll become just a name near the top of lists of former batsmen (sorry, at the top!).
    But since he’s not actually being seen for what he is now, there’s no reason for that to change in the future, in fact legends grow with the telling. Symbols take on their own life, especially if they’re being used for propaganda purposes. This is only the end of his international playing days, it’s just the beginning of everything else.

    Joan of Arc has been dead for about 600 years:
    https://i1.wp.com/www.publicmedievalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Le-Pen-and-Jeanne.jpg?resize=800%2C535

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Exactly. Yesterday confirmed that and set the tone for the rest of our lives.

      Sorry Maxie!

      Like

  15. Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 10:00 am

    Of course, most people in the UK have no idea who Cook is and have never seen him play on TV. He’s probably more recognisable in India.

    And this is surely what it’s all been about – administrators who grew up when cricket was effortlessly the national summer sport, suddenly realising they have to do this marketing thing. So they pick the good-looking guy with nice manners who has a way of getting along with the bosses, and is also a good if unimaginative batsman. Perfect, he’s our brand. He’s us. He’s England (and Wales) Cricket.

    Remember Luke Wright? They tried to use him, tried very hard to make him The Face of T20. He was in all the Sky promos and the press adverts. But it didn’t stick. Flintoff was too flawed, and injury-prone. With Cook, they were lucky. He’s the sort of person that you wind him up and point him in a direction and he will just keep going, nod, smile, autograph, banal interview, nod, smile. No scandal, no street fighting.

    And so gradually it became that to criticise Cook was to criticise cricket, specifically England cricket. And so it couldn’t be allowed and people who criticised him must go.

    What this has done to his mind, God knows. His remark that he hopes he’s still the same person suggests that he feels he may not be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 11:33 am

      If Cook thought that, with the England captain being the face of England cricket, a decision to cut adrift the most charismatic, and no doubt high-maintenance batsman of his age, without an explanation would not fall on him almost exclusively, then he would have to be naive – the most charitable word I can think of. It’s taken him four years to finally chuck Downton, Clarke and Flower under that bus (while making sure that bus was going at 1mph), but he’s kept his mouth shut since then. I described him as a company man many times, partially in that spitting tone of Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross, and partially as a loyalty thing, misplaced as I think it is.

      We don’t know Cook, probably at all. But I’m sure as hell not going to let the media define who is he to me. I don’t trust them, and for good reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Mark September 11, 2018 / 10:03 am

    It’s interesting that the media make claims about Cook that are constantly at odds with the facts.

    For example……the media claim he pays no attention to what the said media say about him. But as always with Cook, the truth seems at odds with the reality. If this was true why was Cook having dinner with Agnew on the eve of the last Test, and telling him he was going to retire? Surely he would leave it to an official announcement? And in Agnews tribute to Cook he talks about being on a treadmill next to Cook? Why is Cook training with the BBCs media person?

    Then we have Selvey who boasted that Cook turned up to his leaving do. Why? Seriously, why does someone who he media says pays no attention to the media turn up to a hacks leaving party and buy Selvey a drink?

    Here is a thought…..Is it just possible that the media fawn all over him because he gives the media the information they require? Could it be that Cook has in fact been crickets version of deep throat? I’m not saying it is true, but it would be wrong not to ask the question? Could it be that so much of the “I know things that you don’t know” , and other so called insights has come from the same person?

    If true it would explain a lot. Could it be the media are not just saying a final fairwell to a leading player, but more importantly, they are saying by by to their best source?

    I’m sure we can expect a truthful answer from Agnew and Selvey…… when hell freezes over.

    Like

  17. Miami Dad's Six September 11, 2018 / 10:07 am

    James Miller on the Cricinfo live text:
    “Through all the bad stigma the media get, just saw on the livestream that they got Cook 33 beers, 1 for each of his test tons, as a farewell present. Speaks volumes of the sort of bloke Cook is and how well he is regarded if the media is presenting it as a thank you is incredible. Farewell to one of the best blokes out there. From an Aussie!”
    I sort of agree with him, especially that it speaks volumes about the media…creepy sycophants.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 11:23 am

      The media buying Alastair Cook a present. How lovely.

      It should really be the other way around, but that’s life.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 11:36 am

    As an aside, how lovely to see a long-standing left-handed England opening batsman being the one thing preventing Somerset from a total duffing by Kolpakshire.

    23 not out out of 72/6. I want Somerset to lose for Surrey’s gain, but still doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the talents they have.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/game/1127661/hampshire-vs-somerset-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2018

    I saw his 219. His top test score. A privilege to be there on that day.

    Like

    • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 11:39 am

      Still my favourite England Test match (outside 2005) this century.

      Like

    • Miami Dad's Six September 11, 2018 / 12:49 pm

      A 4 man seam attack including Fidel Edwards, Kyle Abbott, Dale Steyn, plus some Australian.

      Eurgh.

      Like

  19. Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Just looked at Agnew’s twitter account for the first time, holy shit. His mask of ever so friendly jolly chap comes off pretty quickly, no hesitation to get down and dirty. Picking fights and insulting people. A side of him I hadn’t seen before.

    Like

    • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 11:43 am

      The Agnew that helped draft Cook’s retirement statement and kept it a secret for a week is the same Agnew that told the world Pietersen wasn’t coming back within moments of his confidential meeting happening.

      He’s an advocate, not an arbiter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 11:45 am

      A far cry from the days when Jessica Taylor and “Piers Morgan acolytes” (the ones who understand passwords) drove him into the arms of KICCA…

      Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      An oasis of unbridled hilarity in a grim year for cricket, that KICCA episode. Still feel sorry for those who missed the video of Agnew flying over Rutland – and of course Mark Nicholas in a check shirt praising Springsteen – before it was pulled.

      I realise that for those without elephantine memories, or who weren’t unemployed cricket obsessives in autumn 2014, this sounds like my fever dream or LSD trip. But it really happened, man.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 12:41 pm

        …edges slightly away from him at the bar.

        Like

        • nonoxcol September 11, 2018 / 1:06 pm

          *evil cackle*

          Ready to be redpilled?

          Like

          • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 1:52 pm

            You are a very, very, bad man, for sharing that. In your head is where it should have remained. From now on it’s blue pills for me, all the way.

            BTW, it’s a hint into and comraderie and complicity of those inside cricket. When someone plays No Surrender on the PA for you as you stroll out to bat, and you later have to chose between loyalty and transparency, it’s not a hard choice. They’ve been through the wars together.

            Like

          • oreston September 11, 2018 / 2:18 pm

            I find Nicholas’s on screen persona increasingly unsettling. It hints at sociopathic traits to me. Just my opinion, of course, and maybe what we see is all a slightly ill-judged act and he’s totally different in real life.

            Like

  20. Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 11:54 am

    Quebecer has been proved right, not for the first time: Stuart Broad is now mostly made of cortisone and is therefore bowling with a broken rib.

    Alternatively, as rumoured back in the peak Harry Potter era, he is really Draco Malfoy and is using black magic.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mark September 11, 2018 / 12:54 pm

    Well it appears the wheels have come off Agnew’s smooth, streamline exterior this morning. As Fred said, the mask has slipped. Although I for one never bought this syrupy, extra nice, chocolate cake Smashie and Nicey routine. Just for the record I don’t have a twitter account, so any one claiming to be me is in fact a fraud. How bizarre to have ones own sort of tribute band!

    Anyway, just to congratulate all on here for behaving with a lot more dignity in the last five days (despite endless provocation) from people who claim to be professional & impartial journalists.

    They have demanded from us an apology (which they can whistle for) unfettered humiliating grovelling to their hero. Contrast this to how they behaved when KP retired? Or rather was driven out of the game and into retirement by nasty back biting pygmies.

    This farce over the last week has both revealed, and proved pretty much everything we thought, and suspected.

    The English cricket media 2014-2018 RIP

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 1:56 pm

      It’s a really good impersonation of you! If it’s not you, someone is making a good effort to sound like you.

      You can tell I’m bored at work by the number of comments I’m making. Reviewing a contract, and I’m not even a lawyer.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 3:00 pm

        It’s a good impersonation because the individual cuts and pastes off here.

        Like

        • Mark September 11, 2018 / 3:10 pm

          I’m broken hearted. You mean it’s all my own work?

          So really he is a plagiarist? Do we know anyone who has a tendency to copy other people’s work in the cricket field? Scratching head……….let me think…………

          How about Icarus? He flew to close to the sun, and melted the wax on his wings. Now who could that be?

          Like

  22. dlpthomas September 11, 2018 / 2:05 pm

    Meanwhile, India are making batting look easy.

    Like

  23. OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    That’s a pretty impressive ranty twitter feed if someone’s impersonating you Mark 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  24. OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    I would [KEEGAN VOICE] Love it, absolutely Love it if India can draw this match (I make it about 42 overs to go, which is probably 5 an over and too much to score).

    It would just be the icing on the cake and would highlight what has been pointed out in this match. Centuries in dead-rubbers or losses are pointless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas September 11, 2018 / 2:36 pm

      Rahul could get a pointless double hundred.

      Like

      • OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 2:44 pm

        Ah, but context tells us that a double hundred saving a test from an impossible position is definitely not pointless.

        Whereas scoring a century (for the first time in years in a second innings if ever?? (Aaran please 😉 )) and not winning the match – definitely pointless 🙂

        Like

      • quebecer September 11, 2018 / 6:12 pm

        “Rahul could get a pointless double hundred.”

        Snigger. Nice one.

        Like

  25. OscarDaBosca September 11, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    166 in 30 overs after tea (if they get that many, they are already 4 down). Probably too much, if only they had some T20 specialists in the Indian team….maybe the highest pair of run scorers in this years IPL, that would probably cause a few nerves.

    Like

    • thelegglance September 11, 2018 / 2:49 pm

      They have to complete the overs on the fifth day – subject to light.

      Like

  26. Deep Purple Fred September 11, 2018 / 3:23 pm

    Rahul just passed 147. He’s going rogue. Someone better tell him what this test is all about.

    Like

  27. dlpthomas September 11, 2018 / 3:25 pm

    And one for the blooper reel. Robert Craddock on the TV show “The Back Page” was discussing the Australian team to play Pakistan. He said (and I quote) “Travis Head is the one player Justin Langer really, really likes. He loves Head.”

    Like

  28. metatone September 11, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Rashid with an excellent wicket there. I hope Ed Smith at least gives him the SL series.

    Like

    • dlpthomas September 11, 2018 / 4:12 pm

      Harbhajan Singh clearly not impressed with how Root has handled Rashid. There isn’t much point in picking him for the SL tour if Root isn’t going to bowl him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mdpayne87 September 11, 2018 / 4:31 pm

      He bowled tripe up until that wicket but it was worth the wait. He’ll definitely go to SL – I think they’ll play 3 spinners. Hence the vague talk of Broad not touring.

      Like

  29. LordCanisLupus September 11, 2018 / 4:43 pm

    Danny on the report tonight. Chris is taking a break for a bit as work intervenes. I have a couple of posts on the stocks, and we’ll see if Sean has something to say.

    Look out for the poll. I didn’t do it last year, this year I will. The coveted Media Awards are always something of a laugh.

    We’ll do our best to keep the content coming post-Test series. Five ODIs starting 10th October, with three tests starting on 6th November.

    Like

  30. Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 4:43 pm

    So, “everyone makes runs at the Oval”.

    I’m sure entertaining debates can be had about whether Anderson’s record is more significant than Cook’s. One thing they have in common is they’ve both stayed remarkably fit, is that the reason for their longevity?

    Or are they all gym-bunnies now? One thing’s for sure, you wouldn’t have heard E W Swanton boasting about being on the next treadmill to Brian Close.

    Like

    • Sophie September 11, 2018 / 5:00 pm

      I was about to post “Dead rubber and suddenly everyone decides to show off their batting skills” on the Guardian county cricket BTL, but then I remembered Cook and thought better of it.

      Like

    • Benny September 11, 2018 / 6:44 pm

      If only E W Swanton and Close were in their jobs today, the cricket world would be in a better place

      Like

  31. man in a barrel September 11, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    What a shame they were unable to hold out a few more overs

    Like

    • Zephirine September 11, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      It would have been great, and very poetic justice-y, But Rashid got a good wicket and Jimmy got his record and it’s all been very eventful.

      The Indians were great, when are they coming again?.

      Like

      • Sophie September 11, 2018 / 6:16 pm

        Well, once Rashid got both set batsmen out and they took the new ball it never was going to happen, was it? I don’t know, I expected more from the Indians. Maybe next time they should have some warm-up games or something?

        Like

  32. Benny September 11, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    Thank goodness all that is over. End of the circus, back to the cricket

    Like

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