This was England’s most dominant day’s test cricket since the 2011 India series. For resolve, fluency, ambition and power, it was a flashback to an England near the peak of their powers. I’m struggling to remember the last time England turned a losing position into a winning one so emphatically, or won a day’s play by such a large margin.
So – well done, England. As the young Mr Grace used to say in Are You Being Served?, “you’ve all done very well!”.
There’s little I can add to Ben Stokes’s epic performance which didn’t speak for itself. Joe Root has long since become the wicket Australia will most value. And, yes, Alastair Cook batted impressively and effectively.
I was offline most of yesterday, but my antennae vaguely picked up on what must have been a furious if gleeful ‘I told you so’ from some quarters of the crickosphere.
The most sensible comment I’ve read on Cook’s innings came from the regular TFT commenter THA, who said on Facebook:
I’m pleased he’s scored runs – not because of any good-and-evil battle with KP, but because it’s his job. He hasn’t deserved his place in the side for sometime as a batsman and he’s behaved like an entitled ***** whilst being comfortably the world’s most incompetent international captain, but he’s played a genuinely decent innings for the first time in at least 18 months and I’m pleased. Why people feel the need to react by shouting ‘KP’ is beyond me though.
In all the turmoil of the last eighteen months the principle at stake was this: the England team should be picked on cricketing merit alone, not influenced by political or personal grudges. If Cook is scoring runs (as he is now), then he should be in the team, it’s as simple as that. But this principle should apply to everyone.
Yesterday Cook did his job, and after letting England carry him for two years, he owes them big-time. But his innings should be kept in proportion. This was not Jack Hobbs at the Oval in 1926, but a home century against New Zealand on a flat pitch against rusty bowling. Commend Cook for a professional performance, yes, but there is no excuse for mass genuflection and idolatry.
Cookites revere their hero’s achievements as if he were some plucky underdog battling the odds for a noble cause. They talk about him like he’s an amputee ex-serviceman running the London Marathon on prosthetic legs for charity. In truth, Cook has everything on his side. He has enjoyed more indulgence, support, and privilege, than any England cricketer in the modern age.
Cook appears to have turned a corner and genuinely regained his form. Some of you will feel pleased for him, and some of you will not. Personally, on an emotional level, and to use a Pietersenphobe phrase, Cook has burned too many bridges. It’s little things like this, from the ECB dossier.
Meeting between AF and KP in AF’s hotel room (at AF’s request following AF finding out that KP saying to AC, MP and others that AF shouldn’t be the coach any longer).
The Cook debate has usually revolved more around his captaincy than his batting, and today will be about the former. Will he time the declaration right? Can he devise tactics effective enough to prise out ten wickets in 75 overs? England’s batting achievements yesterday will count for rather less if they fail to win today, and it’s possible they can still lose. In my bones, though, I feel this will be England’s day.
Please add your comments and thoughts below, as the day progresses.
England now lead by 340 and are still going. What kind of lead does Cook want – 400?
Meanwhile the Telegraph are now reporting that Trevor Bayliss, not Jason Gillespie, will get the England coaching job: