Alastair Cook – treat us to an innings of rare beauty

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It’s hard to pay attention on days like yesterday. You drift off, but every time you look up, you think: ‘Jesus, how did that happen?’

Look on the bright side though. It’s only very occasionally that a match situation calls for one of cricket’s finest sights: the innings of no intent.

The situation

Every once in a while, a number of factors coincide to create a situation so deliciously appealing it’s hard to avoid bursting a kidney with excitement. You need both sides’ first innings out of the way quite quickly, but you then need batting to get easier. You need the side batting last to be miles behind and you need plenty of time.

It was in South Africa that Mike Atherton played his classic 643-minute 185 not out, during which four South Africans in the crowd were hospitalised with acute despair. This is the template.

In this Test, South Africa are already 330 ahead and with two days to go, the stage is almost set. But who will step forward? Who in the England batting line-up could play an innings of no intent?

Step forward Alastair Cook

NO! What in blazes do you think you're doing?Andrew Strauss can be pretty dour. Jonathan Trott can eschew attacking shots for lengthy periods of time, but no-one matches Alastair Cook for his disinclination to lay bat on ball.

During his hundred in the last Test, Cook flatly refused to score on the off-side. He’s halfway there. All he needs to do now is spend nine or ten hours avoiding leg-side scoring shots as well.

This could be beautiful. We can see him unfurling leave after leave and treating us to the occasional insipid prod when he absolutely has to.

Come on, Alastair. Do it for Boycott. Do it for Tavaré.


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  1. On second and third look at the photo, i think Mr Cook has been practicing his golf swing whilst the bowler returns to his mark. Surely that is not an action shot of Mr Cook playing an attacking shot?

  2. Rarely have I heard a more rousing rallying cry for a man to do as little as possible. It should be released on cd, like they do with Churchill’s speeches. It should probably be read by Geoffrey Palmer.

  3. True O king – we just need him to look willowy and take off his batting helmet occasionally to disentangle his eyelashes

  4. 30.3 Steyn to Cook, no run, prodded out to cover.

    30.2 Steyn to Cook, no run, round the wicket again, ploughing a furrow outside off, but Cook is in the zone and knows what to take on and what to ignore .

    30.1 Steyn to Cook, no run, outside off, angling back into the left-hander. Ignored.

    Your wish is his command, KC. Well, everything apart from the strike rate of 50 which is almost 48 too fast.

  5. Brad, that’s Cook’s backlift. Ultimately, he’ll face the right way and dead-bat the ball right into the pitch.

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