Does Alastair Cook still say ‘ahm’ every other word now that he’s a professional broadcaster?

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Alastair Cook on Sky Sports

We sat and watched a 30-second Alastair Cook interview so that you didn’t have to.

The most damning indictment of Britain as a country is that some people used to think Alastair Cook was ‘well-spoken’ even though he is actually The. Worst. Public. Speaker. Ever.

Throughout his captaincy, Cook’s post-match interviews were 50 per cent English and 50 per cent a weird hybrid of ‘um’ and ‘ah’ of his own devising.

Cook is a broadcaster now. An actual broadcaster. A man paid to talk. He’s doing some stuff for the BBC and it looks like he’ll be appearing on Sky too.

As a rule of thumb, pretty much everyone who has ever played international cricket has something interesting to say about the sport. We’re hoping that Cook’s no exception and that all that relentless ahm-ing was just a symptom of him having to answer questions while simultaneously scrutinising them for potential traps.

Today we got an early sighter of Cook in action in his new career in the form of a 30-second clip on Sky Sports in which he says that it’s hard to win away from home and not much else.

We counted the ahms. There were four – which is actually not that bad because, to be fair, we all have our, you know, verbal crutches that we, like, use to buy ourselves a smidgen of thinking time.

The four break down as three in the first six seconds – which is very bad – and one at the very end. The middle bit was not very much at all like Alastair Cook talking and therefore sort of promising.


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  1. I read this piece last night and wondered why I found its tone so dissonant. This morning I realise why. The idea that the named person is a poor broadcaster sounded plain wrong to me.

    Because of course, Alistair Cooke was a genuinely brilliant broadcaster. My grandmother absolutely loved his broadcasts. Towards the end of her life, 25 years ago, I too used to listen to Letter From America as often as I could, not least to enable me to discuss their content with my grandmother, but also for my own sake – they were simply top notch journalism and compelling listening.

    On Googling, I discover that all of his surviving broadcasts are available to all on the BBC website. If you’ve never even heard his voice, I do recommend giving at least one of these spoken essays a try:

    As for Alastair Cook – um…ah…nuff said.

  2. Ian Botham has made a career as a “professional broadcaster” for decades now. He intersperses his commentary with bombastic guff in the same way that Cook uses is “ums” and “ahs”, but it seems to have done him no harm. Vaughan has similar ticks. Cook’s affliction seems forgivable in comparison.

    1. Botham is like Warne. Get him talking about swing bowling (leg spin in Warne’s case) and he’s genuinely interesting. Everything else is, as you say, bombastic guff. He can string a sentence together though. The jury’s out on whether Cook can and that’s a bare minimum requirement before you get to the merits of what’s being said.

      Vaughan can be insightful when he’s not being a reactionary simpleton. We can only assume some sort of split personality with the simpleton seemingly taking ever-greater control.

      1. Is the personality disorder which manifests itself as a reactionary simpleton seemingly taking ever-greater control known as “Theresa May’s Syndrome”?

      2. My frustration with Vaughan is that, as you say, he is capable of being genuinely incisive, which means he annoys me all the more when he is being an arse.

        My frustration with Botham is that he was one of the greatest cricketers ever to step over a boundary rope (and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees) but that has been tarnished by twenty years of windbaggery which saddens me.

  3. Ahm ahm ahm, isn’t there a rule, ahm, about questions in ahming headlines – that the answer is always, “ahm”?

  4. I’m liking your Dhoni theory more and more, once again he seems to be getting credit for finishing a game and “going deep” when the game really should have been won in the 45th over.

    1. A win’s a win, we suppose. Can’t really fault him too much when India get home, even if he does seem to indirectly apply pressure to his batting partners.

      We can also easily imagine that for all the talk of 450 being the new 300 (or whatever we’re up to now) half the World Cup will be played on knackered-out old pitches and Dhoni’s unflappability might come into its own.

      1. Also, and perhaps more crucially, we’re 5 months away from a World Cup. Ditching Dhoni for sunnier pastures now is a one way ticket to wondering why everyone’s making jokes about data

      2. The world cup comes down to winning 2 matches, the SF at OT (1v 4) /Edgbaston (2 v 3) and final at Lord’s. OT sees 5 matches, Edgbaston and Lord’s 4 matches before the semi finals, so hopefully we have un-knackered pitches in the knockouts. You have an India – pak at OT.

  5. I much prefer the English “ahm” to the “aw look” (with obligatory rising intonation) which seems to be the first words out of every Aussie cricketers mouth ever.

  6. Tendulkar barely mentions cricket, Dravid coaches our u-19 and A teams, and Ganguly is a competent emerging cricket administrator.

  7. So Kohli wins player of the year, Test player of the year and ODI player of the year. But did he win Lord Megachief of Gold? Did he bollocks.

    1. 1,322 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 55.08 does not, to us, scream ‘Test player of the year’ if you’re taking that year in isolation.

      Can’t help but think that Kohli’s 2018 Test performances were bolstered in the minds of the panel by Kohli’s 2017 Test performances and Kohli’s 2018 one-day performances.

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