Alastair Cook’s footwork and TV analysis

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This is what happens when you stand on the wrong side of the stumps

TV analysis can get a bit nit-picking and it turns us all into experts. Alastair Cook was in poor form and there had to be a reason: “His footwork’s not good. Here’s an example of that.” There’s your proof. Case closed.

Only it doesn’t exactly work like that. Technique can improve your chances of succeeding as a batsman, but flaws don’t always mean failure. A batsman can play a shot, a whole innings, or a whole career with dreadful footwork and still be pretty successful.

In Alastair Cook’s case, there was a lot of video footage of him playing duff shots. However, because he was getting out so quickly, all the footage was of the first few balls of each innings. That partly supports the view that poor technique is getting him out, but it’s also true that many of the very best batsman can bat like great fat lumps of dog toss when they first come to the crease.

Technique’s something you can’t think about when you’re batting. Thoughts are a thick gum that clogs your movements and sabotages your timing. What you’re really after is a Zen-like autopilot state.

If you were in a conversation with someone and they used the word ‘verticals‘, you wouldn’t think about hitting them in the face, would you? You’d just do it. That’s the state of mind a batsman needs.


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  1. I understand that THEY need to know about technique and stuff, but I don’t see necessarily that WE need to know it. This is what happens when you have entirely ex-players as commentators; they’ve nothing else to talk about.

    It’s like art. Is my enjoyment of a painting by Picasso improved if I know what consistency paint he used, or what brush stroke technique? Or would I enjoy that New Seekers song any more if I was more familiar with the principles of harmony and rhythm? The answer is clearly no. These things are vitally important to Pablo and Lyn – they couldn’t have produced what they did without knowing the detail. But they’re not important to me. And if we become too engrossed in the technical details, we are in danger of losing sight of the genius and the art.

  2. You really must appoint Bert as your Lord Chamberlain O king. Just as your blog neatly sidesteps mundane sanity, so do Bert’s comments. Picasso and the New Seekers? Inspired.

  3. All that talk about technique isn’t a complete waste of time. It’s not about the fact that Cook was getting out – it was the fact that he was getting out in entirely predictable ways. I haven’t followed him recently, but I did watch the England – India test series a while ago. Zaheer Khan was able to generate some movement away from him and he duly was out caught at slip. And also, there’s something seriously wrong about an opener getting bowled. I know there are other openers guilty of this count too (read Ganguly), but they have all been more successful than Cook. I am afraid Cook’s technical ability doesn’t quite complement his defensive mindset. He has to be a little more aggressive to survive.

  4. No, the talk about technique isn’t a waste of time, but it’s too simple to say “that’s the problem” – and that’s often what happens on TV.

  5. Ganguly more successful than Cook?

    7200 runs at 42 in 113 tests with 16 centuries
    4400 runs at 43 in 59 tests with 13 centuries.

    Not much in it, but I’ll take Cook’s record over Ganguly’s, ta muchly. Obviously, being English, I couldn’t give a toss about ODIs, so I’m ignoring them.

  6. Most people who use it could use a far more conventional word to say the same thing, but they think that it sounds more important if they say ‘verticals’.

    Plain English is the best English. Language is for communicating with people.

  7. Activate your reasoning data-set, King Cricket. Verticals projectilize the mainstream customer-reaction forums.

    That’s why they’re important.

  8. KC – I don’t disagree, maybe it is too simple to blame it all on technique. But given Cook’s form over the last couple of years, it wouldn’t hurt him to take a good look at it.

  9. No, fine. Professional sport’s all about self improvement. But if someone filmed us for a week and told the world that we didn’t have a swimmer’s physique because we kept eating chicken wings, the world might think those were facile conclusions.

  10. I have been saying to anyone that will listen for a few years now that Cook will end up as England’s all time leading runscorer and nothing has changed my mind. The guy is only 25 and already has 13 Test centuries. He was the youngest Englishman to 4000 runs and the second youngest worldwide. He’s had a bit of a rough patch but is still finding ways to score runs.

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