Cook Should Stop Playing Up and Focus On Upping His Game

cook salutes

His failure in the second innings at Antigua has heaped even more pressure on our beleaguered captain Alastair Cook. Regular TFT contributor Tregaskis takes a look at why Cook has become a lightning rod for so much criticism – not just for his own performances, but the blunders of the ECB in general. It is a provocative piece that explores the very concept of Englishness itself, and attempts to locate Cook’s predicament within this broader context.

If you have a different take on Alastair, and fancy writing a piece that defends him, we’d be delighted to hear from you. We publish articles based on the quality of the writing, not the opinions expressed. Thanks.


The nature of Englishness in modern Britain is an elusive even divisive abstraction. Perhaps the damned awkwardness of it all is the only thing that unites us. John Major famously eulogised it as warm beer, cricket on the village green and spinsters cycling to church on a Sunday.

Back in August 2013, the Mail’s Jonathan McEvoy hagiographed Alastair Cook as –

“The best of Englishness. Patriotic in a quiet sort of way, modest yet heroic, self-effacing but self-assured. In an age when the tawdry and the talentless pollute much of society, he stands for something precious in our national life.”

The accompanying photograph shows a despondent Cook trudging back to the pavilion after failing to make his rather dismal average for the series. The image captured the main theme of McEvoy’s article, essentially that the sainted skipper was not making runs. “Mr Stoic of Bedfordshire was caught behind and departed for 25,” has become an enduring motif for Cook these past two years.

In April 2014, Alastair Cook promulgated Englishness as the bedrock on which he hoped to rebuild the national team, without articulating what those qualities might be. While he excused his mission statement as being a bit wishy washy, it was obvious what he meant, innit. A cynic might be forgiven for thinking at the time that the overriding whiff of Englishness largely involved not smelling like a South African.

A month later and Giles Clarke added further elevation to Cook’s totemic status with a Blimpish observation from his Turkish bath –

“Gad, sir! Lord Bunk is right. Cook is a very good role model and he and his family are very much the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be.”

After a millenium and a half of evolving national character and 60 years of post-colonial hand-wringing, the essence of modern Englishness turned out to be nothing to do with drinking tea in a slightly self-deprecating manner. In the end, Englishness turned out to be definitively captured in the embodiment of Alastair Cook.

A couple of weeks ago, the England Test captain was lauded again, this time by Jim Holden in the Express

“It is obvious to me and it should be obvious to anyone with the game’s best interests at heart, that this admirable cricketer must be at the centre of the renewal and regeneration that is now urgently required.”

To many it is not entirely obvious that Cook should be in the team, so why he should be central to England’s renewal and endless regeneration is a mystery that Holden annoyingly kept to himself. These pieces are articles of faith designed to uphold an ECB theocracy and irritate Richard Dawkins.

Trying to grasp the enigmatic credo is a riddle with no answer, but Jonathan McEvoy may have got closest to the central tenets. The Englishness that the ECB, and those caught in its orbit, are struggling to employ is Pre-Raphaelite – minutely detailed, backward looking and seeking a sporting ideal by drawing on a mythical past. It’s an antidote to the Picasso cricket that has brought energy and spontaneity and revolutionary ideas to successful teams beyond these shores.

Nineteenth-century ideas on national character are well represented in Sir Henry Newbolt’s “Vitaï Lampada,” and Kipling’s “If.” Both poems capture the essence of late Victorian-era stoicism such as selfless devotion to duty and the stiff upper lip. In fact, Jonathan McEvoy’s description of Cook usurps stoicism from a society of long-dead poets and redeploys it as a force for good in the tawdry, desolate landscape that has blighted English cricket since, well, at least since text-gate.

A generation after “Vitaï Lampada” was published, Douglas Jardine wrecked English sporting stoicism by driving a coach and four through the prissy concept of heroic failure. According to Christopher Douglas, Jardine’s biographer, as a pupil at Winchester College, the young Jardine was “taught to be honest, impervious to physical pain, uncomplaining and civilised.” Newbolt and Kipling would have approved of the school motto, “evil to him who evil thinks.”

But Jardine was unashamedly elitist and also determined to win at any cost. He was widely disliked by the Australian public for his disdainful bearing and attitude. Jardine was the antithesis of Bradman’s humility of birth and extravagance of play. He despised the boorish Australian crowds for “reneging upon the imperial responsibilities of cricket.” In the third Test of the Bodyline series, Jardine purposefully went out to bat wearing the harlequin cap that signified his status as an Oxford cricketing Blue, and scored 56 runs in 4hours 15 minutes in an exhibition of deliberate tectonic slowness, just to annoy the natives.

Jardine did not give a stuff about stoicism. Triumph and Disaster were told to field in the cordon around square leg with Larwood steaming in and pitching it short and fast in line with leg stump. It was not heroic and it wasn’t even cricket according to Australian skipper Bill Woodfull, but Jardine’s win-at-all-costs attitude won back the Ashes. England did not win another Ashes series for twenty years.

Cook is as capable as Jardine of scoring a slow 56, but while Jardine’s crease occupation was a deliberate expression of amateur superiority, Cook’s recent efforts have exposed the limits of his professional abilities.

Had Giles Clarke said “Alastair Cook is very much the sort of person we want the England captain to look like,” we might have giggled a bit at the homoerotic sub-text or frowned at the suggestion that the ECB’s ideal English man is white and middle-class, but no one could deny that Cook is a looker. If the England captaincy were a non-speaking role, Cook would be the perfect ambassador for English cricket at sponsorship events and bar mitzvahs.

Andrew Anthony in the Guardian takes the opposite view believing Cook’s looks are a hindrance –

“To be a good captain it helps to look like a good captain. And perhaps this is an aspect of the game that Alastair Cook, through no fault of his own, may never find in his armoury.

“No one should doubt his courage or talent, both of which he has in abundance. But it just so happens that he looks like the former choirboy that, by coincidence, he is. … However, it’s not a look that will ever strike fear in the opposition, much less his team-mates. And unfortunately it’s the kind of look that fits too neatly with being sulky and needled, having succumbed, say, to Shane Warne’s provocations or losing the one-day England captaincy.”

Anthony has played with an idea here and got it horrendously and hilariously wrong. Cook is not sulky due to his matinee-idol looks. He is not whiny about “Shane Warne’s provocations” because he has a square jaw. Nor was his ungracious moaning about the Mankading of Jos Buttler due to his doey eyes. He did not complain about the decision of the selectors to drop him from the ODI squad because he is tall and winsome, and the buffness of his body did not lead inevitably to his besmirching the leadership qualities of Eoin Morgan.

In looking to blame everyone for his exclusion from the ODI world cup squad except his own poor form, Cook crossed a line in a way that Sachithra Senanayaka never did. Poor form twice over. He failed to separate his personal feelings from his responsibilities as the England Test captain. Gaurav Kalra, in a piece for ESPN Cricinfo, nailed the point when he analysed the meltdown of ICC President Mustafa Kamal during the recent world cup –

“Kamal claimed that his observations were made in a ‘personal capacity’. In doing so he ignored, wilfully or otherwise, one of the fundamental principles of holding public office: there is no separation of public and personal identities when you assume a position of high profile.”

These are matters of character and judgment. Cooky. Contagiously fails. Infectiously wails. Stoicism, for Cook, is a foreign land. He is too inclined to emotional outbursts. Had Brendon McCullum’s Gatling jammed en route to rescue Gordon, it is easy to imagine him grabbing the offending weapon and using it as a club to smash his way to Khartoum. One rather feels Cook’s first instinct would have been to pen a stiffly worded complaint to the adjutant-general.

He is no Bulldog Drummond, and while often characterized as determined, in Cook it is the stubbornness of a small child refusing to eat its greens. Admirable English stubbornness has an altogether different hue. Brian Close, in 1976, pummelled black and blue by a barrage of body blows from Roberts and Holding, but seeing out the day. Terry Butcher, bandaged, bloodied and unbowed defending the line against Sweden in 1989, or Martin Johnson, in 2003, rallying his intrepid 13-man team to defend against a fully wheeled All Black juggernaut.

Perhaps the apotheosis of a captain’s innings was Mike Atherton’s 185 not out in 643 minutes of gritty, attritional resistance that salvaged an unlikely draw at the Wanderers in 1995. It is all very well leading by example in the flush of team success. Sometimes, real leadership is revealed only in adversity, when the team is a busted flush and the situation is desperate. Cook has had opportunity aplenty this past year or so to show the measure of his leadership, and many of his detractors will argue that he has done precisely that.

Cook cannot be held entirely to blame. The tantrums, while low on the Richter scale, are often a default response when his sense of personal entitlement is frustrated. In fairness to the Test captain, he has earned a degree of entitlement, and he has deserved a little latitude. What prevents Cook from being wholly likeable and infuriates his avatar agnostics is that the sense of entitlement seems to have grown in inverse proportion to his performances. He has not been helped by the ECB, which has invested in him heavily as the antithesis to Pietersen, and protected his stock with hyperbole and rhetorical indulgence. They have been whispering slavishly in his ear, “remember you are a god,” during countless processions dejectedly commemorating the latest defeat.

Nor is it entirely Cook’s fault that, as captain, he was required to act as a spokesman on behalf of an organization in disarray and a team in freefall. With Clarke, Flower and Downton determined to see out the crisis in their fireproof bunker, Cook was horribly exposed every time he undertook his press duties. The most articulate of speakers would have struggled to convince a sceptical and, at times, incredulous cricketing public, and it’s fair to say that Cook as orator is more Claudius than Cicero.

It has not helped Cook’s cause that he was implicated in the sacking of Pietersen. The ECB ensured that the skipper’s awkward attendance at the meeting in the Danubius Hotel gave a form of apostolic approval to the excommunication. But it also meant that Cook was perceived as in part to blame for the decision, and regarded in many quarters as petty and weak. The skipper’s impressive Test record lost a great deal of its worth as his behaviour and character came under scrutiny. When the runs dried up, so did the benefit of doubt. In many ways, Cook and Pietersen are two sides of the same coin, which may explain why the two batsmen have so polarised views across the cricketing spectrum.

Those who know Alastair Cook say he is a top bloke and he is respected in the dressing room. His record as an England batsman is inalienable. When he was at the top of his curve, his prosaic, accumulative batting style was hugely effective. In the uplands of success, his value was much, much better than worthy. Cook was unfussy, phlegmatic and redoubtable – all qualities that define the stolid character much loved by elements of the English establishment.

In the end, Cook’s lack of oratorical flourish makes him no more a bad player than his good looks make him a great one. His emotional outbursts might have dismayed Newbolt and Kipling, but stoicism did not win Jardine the Ashes. The sacking of Paul Downton will have reinforced the point that cricket is a results business, and it should be recalled that both “Vitaï Lampada” and “If” are linked in perpetuity to heroic failure. There is no longer room for sentiment or arrogant, indefinable concepts of Englishness.

It remains to be seen whether the new cricketing landscape has introduced some no-nonsense Yorkshire values into Cook’s thinking. On the eve of the first Test in Antigua, he was unable to contain his inner petulance –

I think my position should not really be a talking point as it has been over the last 15 months.”

Frankly, on the back of 15 months of on-field failure and underperformance, Cook should be focusing on fixing his faulty technique and scoring long and freely. In short, doing his job rather than taking sideswipes at commentators for doing theirs. He would do well to acknowledge Oscar Wilde’s aphorism, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” No one is talking about Paul Downton any more.

If Cook fails to up his game, he will be dropped. If he fills his boots this summer, other issues fall away. It is how it should be.

The irony perhaps is that after 15 months, during which the destinies of Cook and Pietersen have moved in opposite directions, they are now both required to score heavily if they want to play Test matches for England.


© Tregaskis April 2015


  • Wonderfully expressed review, yet whether Cook can ever regain his batting skills is now becoming secondary to his captaincy failings, which do have a heady effect on the rest of the team. He may or may not sort his deficiencies in batting, but he will never be a true leader, and it is for this, he must now be dropped

  • Terrific read, Tregaskis, and an excellent conclusion

    (rather like the “avatar agnostic” label too. Or should I…)

  • Like many, I used to think Cook was an unselfish, good old fashion English opener.

    The first bit certainly isn’t true any more – the rubbish he has spouted has been flagged up Tregaskis. Cricketers are free to spout bollocks if they want, we have enough emotionless robots as it is. But as captain he is in a different position and he has chosen to go down the lines of entitlement and delusion. It’s very poor to see.

    Wouldn’t be so bad if he were scoring runs. But he isn’t. I haven’t seen enough of his batting this series yet, but I understand his technical problems are still there with too much head movement to off. His movements in the warm-up games (albeit from an off centre webcam feed) looked exaggerated. He shouldn’t be too stubborn to change – he’s fixed issues before, most notably before that Ashes series.

    I just don’t get the sense that he is a captain or a leader. It’s no disgrace. Not everyone is. Tendulkar and Lara were both poor captains. Cook has been overburdened by the ECB whilst his implicitness in this mess means he is too stubborn to change what’s so necessary. So frustrating to see.

  • ” Had Brendon McCullum’s Gatling jammed en route to rescue Gordon, it is easy to imagine him grabbing the offending weapon and using it as a club to smash his way to Khartoum. One rather feels Cook’s first instinct would have been to pen a stiffly worded complaint to the adjutant-general.”

    Superbly apt, and accurate

  • Cracking piece Tregaskis as ever.

    Remember the 2009/10 season when Cook was struggling with form and technique? Lots were talking about his place in the team and whether it was still warranted, so what did he do? Got Goochy to sort him out, practice intently and iron out his faults without having to bear the burden of captaincy. With Gooch deemed expendable (and I never could work that one out) and Moores clearly not capable of helping him, what can he do?

    Well, the first thing I would suggest is to relieve him of the captaincy, find someone who cam sort out his front foot problems and get back to being a world class batsman that he was in 2011.

    Ain’t going to happen though, not while Moores, Whitaker and Clark are still on the scene!

    • Gooch is still Cook’s personal batting coach. The whole ‘Cook sacking his mentor’ thing came across very much as a put-up job designed to bolster Cook and distract attention from Flower. Cook immediately reemploying Gooch as his own batting coach hardly dissuades one from that view.

  • I had an amusing thought re the triumph and disaster and the “Englishness” as associated with Douglas Jardine. Jardine was born in Mumbai to Scottish parents. ‘Triumph and disaster’ are words associated with ‘If’ the poem written by Rudyard Kipling, born in Mumbai too. I know seven degrees of separation and all that. Anyway top article.

    For me when all statistical analysis is done, have a look at Cook’s record since the start of 2013 Ashes when you could say his struggles started, it lies at a lick below 29 over the 18 tests. I really think that should end all the debates.

    • Jardine managed not only to be born abroad but he died abroad as well (in Switzerland aged only 57).

      • In fairness, Switzerland was the leading centre of cancer treatment at the time, which was why he was there. He lived in England at the time of his death, but actually died in a Swiss clinic. His ashes were scattered in Scotland.

  • Alastair Cook should never have been captain. He does not have the qualities required of a captain. But he is too deluded to understand this.

    His batting is also very suspect these days. Opposition bowlers know how to get him out cheaply. But he is too deluded to understand this either.

    An honest England captain would have dropped himself by now. Let us hope the new ECB management is honest enough and strong enough to drop Cook from the test team and only select him when he has ironed out his batting faults.

    • Dropping himself entirely would be walking away from a half million at least. It shouldn’t be up to him to do that. That’s for the selectors to do.

      Look, for instance, at Darren Sammy. In Tests, he did his best, which at the end wasn’t good enough, but was gracious throughout, captained as best he could, and did all he could to help the team win and support the other players.

      I would never blame Cook for not resigning, but I do think he could have behaved much better otherwise over the last 18 months.

    • That won’t happen. The one-day captaincy had to be prised from his cold (un)dead hands and he’s still sulking about it now. He has little self-awareness.

  • Oooh Tregaskis. Very good appraisal and I agree with majority, and Cook must go until he can sort his head out. Captaincy must be taken from him. Personally I do not care who takes over. The sycophancy has been truly sickening. Pitting Cook against Pietersen has always been a recipe for complete disaster. When the establishment wants to pull the wool over people’s eyes, it can often be quite effective. This is especially so when those involved have so many supporters in the press! Willing to pile on the rubbish, lies, innuendo, and pass it off as “truth.” As I said to both Mr Pringle and Mr Selvey on twitter: unverifiable talk behind closed doors is nothing more than gossip!

    Now I wish to take you on a bit of Art History Tregaskis.
    I really must take exception to the bit about the Pre-Raphaelites. No, no, no. The brotherhood did not harp back to the past, they wanted to produce art with the vibrancy of colours as seen in years before Raphael: ‘The name Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood referred to the groups’ opposition to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the Renaissance master Raphael. They were also in revolt also against the triviality of the immensely popular genre painting of time.’

    Unlike the ECB who couldn’t produce a masterpiece let alone understand what it might look like. The ECB wants no colour, no brilliance, no individuality, no vibrancy, no difference. Just a very dull, insipid “painting” of cricket that is underpinned by an establishment and its men in grey suits. We could do with those Pre-Raphaelite revolutionaries who wouldn’t Kow Tow to the trends of the day that produced boring stuff but instead wanted to produce something very different, something completely new. I once went to Italy and was allowed to see the utterly brilliant early (and restored) paintings from the period that PRB wanted to emulate. The Museo di Pisa. I was followed around by a security guard with a rifle, such is the priceless pieces that adorn the walls.

    So a bit of vibrancy, colour, difference in abundance, individuality. Those blokes knew what they were talking about aye?

    • Reminds me of a line from Blake’s “Advice to the Popes who Succeeded the Age of Raphael” —
      Pay high price the worst, leave the best in disgrace…

  • When it come to the Englishness schtick, as CLR James so eloquently pointed out, all that ‘play up, play up and play the game’ stuff was Arnold’s noble lie. They fed it to the public school boys to breed generations of adminstrators and generations of adminstrated. Both sets have to do the mental violence to themselves required to believe a self evident falsehood. Once achieved the adminstrators can colonize the poor by having colonized themselves. The project masked a spiritual and material violence. It cannot eithstand real challenge. By the end of the 1st world war, the mask had slipped. The colonized were aware of their position and adminstrators demorilised. Jardine has to unlease bodyline to proove English superiority, but in so doing destroys the illusion and so fails. This, the farcial repeat, played out amongst the crumbling edifice of neo-liberalism, sees Pietersen scapegoated for being of the new — the man from what once was the periphary, refusing to accept his place as a servant because, hey, what else can the triumph of the individual mean than that no-one is better placed to know how you should live than the you in question? — and Cook, the balwark of the old, lashing out without force or justice.

    My hope: a Hegelian synthesis that returns us to a new-old world where things are made whole through solidarity.

    If this makes no sense, I’m sorry.

      • @Pontiac and @Nick Atkinson, thank you. I was genuinely worried that I’d become one of those loons that write drivel on message boards, the logic only clear to themselves. Now I feel that I’m not (or, at least, not alone). Now if someone would disagree, I’ll take my tinfoil hat off.

        PS. Well done sheep on the declaration. I doubt he would have done it without us critics but he did it. It was the right move. Credit where and all that.

  • Stunning! Having had a classical English education, although I do my best to disguise, I was lifted by the quality of the writing, reflected in some of the responses below. I can imagine Selvey or Newman looking at this piece and saying “Blimey, what’s ‘e on about?”

    I shall forever be fond of “the stubborness of a small child refusing to eat its greens”.

    English cricket’s history has many tales of derring-do. Close, as mentioned, David Steel in 75, brought in to face Lillee and Thomson, Holding and Roberts, not because he was skilful but because he was tough. Then there’s Botham coming back after a serious back operation and Willis, on his last legs in 81, destroying the Aussies. Athers, yes, and in a similar vein, willie Watson and Trevor Bailey at Lords in 53. Finally, for never say die, I’d have Freddie Trueman near the top of my list.

  • Alastair Cooks predicament almost warrants an Ealing comedy be made in his honour. A hapless middle class figure bumbling about trying to deal with a position he is ill equipped to handle, and which he has inherited. Another Alastair …that of Alastair Sim could be dug up to play his character.

    As in most Ealing comedies, as in so much about Englishness itself, class and hierarchy are prominent. The English do love their hierarchies. We still have a Royal family with Kings and Queens and princes and princesses and castles and magic coaches. Isn’t it priceless? You quote John Majors ramblings on being English. He famously also claimed We are a classless society. Yet his party 20 years on are stuffed of Old Etonians running the country.

    And cricket is right at the heart of the English class system. It’s worth remembering that only about 50 years ago a cricket team was divided into professionals and amateurs. They even came out of different changing rooms. The batsman tended to be privately educated, and were captain material. The bowlers from working class roots straight out of the coal mines. The same model that runs through English life. Take the military as an example. How little has changed. You bring up Douglas Jardine, and body line. He was the upper class captain with a devious plan to stop Bradman, but he relied on a working class man from Nottinghamshire to carry it out. It was Harold Larwood who did the bowling. And it was Larwood who would take the blame. Only Larwood was asked to apologise on his return to England by the authorities. He refused, and the English hierarchy shunned him. In the end he left England to live tin Australia, the country he had tormented.

    As you rightly say part of Cooks attraction to so many is he is the anti Pietersen. The real Englishman against the outsider and usurper. The English do like their own, particularly if they are middle or upper class. Tim Henman is still adored over Andy Murray, the dour Scot despite the fact that Murray won Wimbledon. Murray becomes British when he wins, and Scottish when he losses. Pietersen was the same, English when he won, and South African when he failed.

    All the gloss that is painted onto Cook only comes out now he is failing. The right type of family, the right school, blah blah blah. We never heard any of this when he was succeeding. It is the protection given all English elites when they fail. ” he is such a nice man, so decent,” Cook is English crickets version of the bankers. His failures are constantly bailed out because of who he represents. We can’t ever let that brutal thing called the market be let lose on the elites. Of course eventually the top brass will have to take him away if he keeps failing. Only to find another “one of us” to lead us all to the promised land. It’s the English way.

    • Ian Carmichael in the leading role? Terry Thomas or Sid James (he was a Saffer, after alll) as KP? Sellers in full Dr Strangelove mode as Flower?

  • Thought-provoking read as always from Tregaskis.

    It is only a very small part of Cook’s woes but I wonder if part of what we’re seeing is an example of ‘the law of unintended consequences’ from the introduction of central contracts. I was in favour of central contracts when they started and on balance I still think they do more good than harm. However I also suspect that they have encouraged a sense of entitlement among their long-term holders. They may encourage the ECB to view players more as a commodity than as a human being.

    I’m not arguing to get rid of central contracts but I would like to see them made more flexible (e.g. players commit to a minimum number of days per year) so that the players and the board aren’t in quite such a toxic stranglehold that currently doesn’t seem to be doing either any favours.

    • I think that’s a key point. Imagine the life of a centrally contracted player playing all 3 forms of the game. 200 days away from home at least. Then combine that with a controlling coach, dietary, etc etc

      It’d be like a cult, and really there’s no escape because the alternative is giving up the truly life changing amounts of salary one can’t get any other way… unless one becomes an apostate and goes to IPL.

      KP’s true sin maybe is that he took the rupee and wasn’t dependent on the ECB’s pound in the same way that the others were. They were not having that.

      • Very good points. Central contracts seem to have produced players who are very immature people, and this is reflected in their ability to deal with the bad times.

        And as Pontiac rightly says, if they fit in and do what Daddy Coach wants, they can have the nice house and the free car and the kids’ school fees put by.

        Just look at the captains from other countries – Angelo Mathews, Brendan McCullum. Dhoni, Sangakkara. Cook in comparison seems stuck at the age of about 19.

  • “I think my position should not really be a talking point as it has been over the last 15 months.

    There’s only two ways that can change – either he makes a couple of centuries, or he goes.
    Other than that, the talk will continue, and it’s absurd to think otherwise.

  • well worded and thought out article, have been a fan since the inside the turtle tank days.

  • As a New Zealand fan I note with interest that the ECB has banished a couple of General Melchetts. However I’d urge them not to dispose of Captain Darling yet, regardless of how shaky he is outside off stump. Southee and Boult won’t exploit that, honest.

  • “What prevents Cook from being wholly likeable and infuriates his avatar agnostics is that the sense of entitlement seems to have grown in inverse proportion to his performances.”

    My favourite bit, Tregs. Thank you for your article.


    If he was scoring runs, I could take his bloated sense of entitlement – just.

    If he was a great captain, I could take his lack of runs.

    The benefits he brings behind the scenes? I’m damn sure there’s plenty of bloody nice blokes in county cricket who can do just as weakly on the field as Cook, but might offer more off it. But why is that ever a valid reason to persist with him?

    Being the planet’s Greatest Living Englishchap ain’t gonna cut it come the end of the Summer when Lehmann’s crew have handed our arses back to us on a cake stand. His lack of runs, his sense of entitlement, and his ineptitude as captain SCREAM out “sack me now!”.

  • So the bottom line is that Cook needs to stop moaning and score some bloody runs. Simples! not.

  • Absolutely brilliant. The essay and many of the comments after remind me why as someone not particularly engaged with English cricket, I still spend time on this blog on a pretty regular basis. I hope there is a book of sorts Tregaskis is planning based on his excellent posts and comments here at the time lord’s place.

  • In what universe is competitive sport NOT about winning? Isn’t that the definition of the word “competition”?

  • Anyone else notice the SkySports cameras consistently panning in on Cook – helping us to understand his ‘captaining methods’ – so we don’t criticize rather be nice to him? Constantly the cameras spotted Cook waving his arms, looking down, picking his nose, shouting and waving at the same time – a wonderful display – Sky showing its complete bias toward one player throughout the match …. never seen such tedious adoration before on televised cricket

  • ‘He’s one of the all-time England greats,’ said Flintoff.

    ‘And you get the sense everyone within the set-up wants him as captain. He’s a popular lad.’

    Flintoff..aparently he thinks kp cant get abck in team while cook can still be retained

  • Very good piece, Tregaskis, thought-provoking as ever.

    I find that increasingly there’s something of that other typical Englishman, Mr Pooter, about Cook the captain. The lack of self-awareness, the devotion to The Firm, the touchiness in the face of criticism (real or imagined), the fear of the modern…

  • Interesting little nugget buried away in one of George Dobell’s recent pieces:

    ” While Vaughan – who has recently called for Moores to be “removed” as coach – has a decent relationship with some of the younger players, some of the older ones are far less keen. It is understood his attempt to have a clear the air chat with Alastair Cook did not go well and his presence was interpreted, by some, as a constant reminder that the axe is hovering”.

    “Did not go well”?

  • The ecb posted a go pro video of cook and trott batting on twitter:

    (I also posted this on the being outside cricket blog)

    This was interesting video and very insightful, I commented on it on twitter – but this gives a bit more space than 140 characters…

    Firstly – on Trott’s technique – his trigger movement is late, which as Vaughan has pointed out repeatedly, means that he is moving when the ball is released. This is a problem – it also means that his weight is going forward and along a single line towards mid off.
    The resulting impact is simple any movement away from him and he will fall over – which we see – and nick off. He has as a result lost his balance.
    What he should be doing – for minimal change and maximum impact is moving earlier having the movement complete as the bowler enters his delivery stride. Ideally he would also just move in one direction (preferable forward) and not forward and across. That will improve his balance no end.

    Now on Cook.

    People rightly focus a lot on his head position – which is an issue – but he has issues with his back leg and hips. they should be facing point through the shot with a full ball – what we see is that his hips come through and back foot comes round meaning he is, like Trott unbalanced.

    Cook also has the most ludicrous trigger movement and front foot in the air at the point of deliver known to man.

    Currently he has adopted an Alec Stewart like movement from a wide stance – this is going to make looking after his off stump even harder. This more open stance really wont help him – all the best players through the off side are side on – there is a reason for this – you are in a better position to play the shot

    Frankly he would be better off just standing side on and still on the balls of his feet. That would allow his head to stop falling over.

    I have no idea what Goochie and Ramps are coaching these guys – but seriously it is nonsense. I have also seen some ridiculous front foot move to the leg side which James Taylor has started doing. Talk about how to ruin a guy’s technique!!

    I could waffle on about this for ages – but it is reasonable to say that sorting their technique out would take about 30 mins of common sense. Which past performance suggests mean that they will never sort it out.



copywriter copywriting