I’ve never been a big fan of Alastair Cook. I doubt anyone has spent longer than I have discussing their technical weakness against top bowlers. At the end of the day, I just don’t like watching him hit the ball. But in a game that avoids whitewashing, I loved and cherished every second of his double century. My vocabulary doesn’t have superlatives to describe it.
Cook has been, in many ways, a punching bag for dissidents in English cricket over the years. He played a role in the KP firing – though I personally don’t think he played much role at all, just following orders – and Giles Clarke’s disgusting “right family” comment will probably haunt him forever. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some England fans secretly hoped he lost that game. They’ve waited years for the launch and called for its cancellation, and after a string of disastrous results this year, they probably think Cook is finally done. Maybe they need to reconsider now!
The truth is, without Cook, England’s cricket team is doomed. He hasn’t played against the best for a long time, and he hasn’t stepped up when we really need him. But he’s still the only player who can step in and make opponents pay. He doesn’t let the team off the hook (like Joe Root often does) and I think he’s very old-fashioned. Tom Harrison might see this as some kind of amusing anachronism.
Yes, we can find holes in Cook’s marathon efforts. Steve Smith’s two turnovers should have meant that Davide Maran and James Vince both went inside when they were sent off, and we can’t ignore the fact that the conditions of that game were measured for Alastair. Tailored – that’s precious There’s little seam movement, no spin, Australia lose their fastest bowler and of course the Ashes are gone.
However, no other England batsman took advantage of the situation, did he? All the other hitters that day were either not good enough or struggled to get to lazy shots. I pay special attention to Joe Root and Moeen Ali. The truth is, Cook (with the possible exception of Malan) is the only hitter on the team who can hit that kind of marathon inning. Everyone else was a product of the “modern batsman” or the white ball revolution in England. They can all push the ball past the limit in different ways, but they ignore the most important muscles: the muscles between the ears.
The truth is that Cook almost single-handedly saved England from the humiliating whitewashing of a flawed Australia team with three of the best fast bowlers (when fit), the world’s best The best hitter and nothing else. Have you ever seen a Jackson Bird bowl? There can be no depth in Australian cricket when this is the best back-up they have.
Yes, this game has a long way to go. England can still screw things up. But if England win this game or a draw, I will be forever indebted to Alastair. He saved us from total humiliation, restored some pride, and showed his peers how to construct a proper, disciplined Test Bureau. Well played sir. And don’t retire.