Alastair Cook, James Taylor, some other guy and uncooked spaghetti

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It’s hard to argue that this wasn’t the perfect England one-day performance. One, England won, which satisfied most of their fans; and two, there was enough evidence to suggest that England will never win one-day games with Alastair Cook at the helm, which will have satisfied his detractors.

The ideal scenario is for England to win the World Cup with Cook really not having pulled his weight but somehow still in the team. Today, he made 20 off 30 balls. Neither quick- nor heavy-scoring, it was pretty much the perfect Cook one-day innings. He was even dismissed playing a defensive shot to howls of derision from some place and some other place.

James Taylor replaced him at the crease and played really rather well. This means it’s quite possible to use the argument that Cook is keeping ‘players like James Taylor’ out of the side, even if he isn’t currently keeping your actual real-life James Taylor out of the side.

Next Joe Root scored a hundred, which is neither here nor there in itself, but did at least distract attention from Chris Woakes’ 6-47. Woakes loves being overshadowed and will have been delighted to have taken six wickets in a one-day game which largely took place on an entirely different day.

These aren’t even Woakes’ best one-day figures. He once took 6-45 against Australia, in Australia. But no-one remembers. In fact, Woakes has two of England’s three best one-day bowling performances of all time (behind Paul Collingwood). This latest effort has been sufficient to see him talked about as being someone who might possibly challenge Steven Finn for a World Cup spot. Great praise indeed.

For if Finn no longer looks like a man who has forgotten how to bowl, he does still give off the air of not yet having fully remembered. At his best, Finn looks stern and driven, but at present we find ourself getting distracted by how much he looks like he’s made out of uncooked spaghetti. That may or may not be the effect he’s trying to produce, so it’s hard to judge his progress. Assuming it is, we’ll give him 10/10 and Woakes 3/10 because the latter didn’t really look at all brittle.


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  1. When I was at university we had to build things out of uncooked spaghetti. Things like bridges and cranes and stuff – just model ones, not real ones, that would be insane.

    The thing about uncooked spaghetti is that it is extremely good in tension. Hang a weight from it and you can be there all day waiting for it to break. But it is absolutely useless in bending. And as a consequence of it being rubbish in bending, it is also rubbish in long span compression (unless you are very, very accurate with the compression load). So building a bridge, which is essentially a long span beam designed to withstand compression and bending, requires some thought. It also requires some glue and a good working knowledge of triangles.

    Nobody ever asked us to make a fast bowler out of uncooked spaghetti. We would have almost certainly considered that to be impossible. But if you’re right, it looks like someone must have cracked it. It just goes to show.

  2. People keep saying that Woakes isn’t a good choice for the ODI side because of how innocuous he is. “Innocuous but takes wickets” is how I’ve seen Rangana Herath described, and Woakes can bat a bit too.

  3. I’m still hoping Alastair Cook suffers some kind of minor back injury that rules him out for the World Cup.

    Also, I refuse to support any England team that doesn’t pick an available Ian Bell. They’re just wrong, and that’s that.

  4. I’m sure Root will be delighted at your description of his century as “Neither here nor there in itself.” False indifference or genuinely unimpressed? It’s hard to tell these days.

    Daneel – I’m with you on the Bell issue. But worth noting that Root now has as many odi centuries as The Sledge, having played 107 fewer games.

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