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.