Let’s strap on Alastair Cook’s pads for a minute so that we can appreciate his streamlined thinking

Via ECB.co.uk

After precisely one Test match, we’d seen all the shots (and non-shots) we were ever going to see from Alastair Cook.

You know them all, but let’s list them anyway. Maybe in 20 years time you’ll revisit this article having forgotten one of them.

  1. The leave
  2. The forward defensive
  3. The back foot defensive
  4. The clip off the legs
  5. The cut
  6. The pull/hook
  7. The drive (but only under very special circumstances)

This list goes some way towards explaining the relentless brilliance of Cook at his best. His was a brain uncluttered by options. Whereas an expansive batsman like Jos Buttler can at times seem paralysed by the avalanche of decisions he must make, Cook’s decisions pretty much made themselves. His was a method built for an autopilot.

Let’s grasp the videogame controller and play as Cook for a few minutes to see just how much he managed to streamline batting.

Full and wide of off stump. The leave.

Full and at the stumps. The forward defensive.

Full and anywhere around leg stump. The clip off the legs.

Short and wide. The cut.

Short and straight. The back foot defensive if it’s going to clip the bails, the pull if it’s slightly higher, the hook if it’s higher still, or you might duck if you feel it’s time to play it safe.

And honestly, that’s pretty much it. There were only two times Cook went beyond this. (1) When he had 150 and the ball was doing nothing, when he might treat himself to that punchy drive that was basically just a forward defensive with the brakes off. (2) When he tried to become a limited-overs cricketer and developed a very hideous slog to cow corner.

You can argue that this made him a predictable batsman, but there were plenty of times when what people predicted was a massive hundred.


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20 Appeals

  1. And oh, what a clip off the legs it was. Like the first few overs of Stick Cricket if you just kept pressing Left.

    In unrelated news, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of this headline and picture, which made it look like ‘the race for Richard Gleeson” was a physical race, albeit one that resembled a zombie film, with an open-mouthed victim running away whilst an awkward figure stumbles towards him, slowly but inorexably.

    Alternatively, the protective gear being worn in the picture makes it look like Gleeson has ‘got loose’ and the race is to recapture him: with all due care and attention… and a heavy implement.

  2. Did anyone else notice lots of dust in the atmosphere today? Dust all over the eyes. Lots of dust.

    • Just to add… logically England shouldn’t have played Cook this Test, would have made more sense to blood the next opener-candidate in time for winter.

      Logic is stupid sometimes.

    • Plenty of dust here in Dubai as well whilst watching (which isn’t perhaps surprising given this is a desert city) but it only seemed to affect me when Cook got to his 100.

  3. Edwardian and I had an IRL conversation this afternoon about the possible reinstatement of Ian Bell.

    We wondered whether you, KC, even if just for old time’s sake, might write an editorial taking an indifferent stance on that suggestion.

    Look, I know you don’t do requests. But if we had requested Ali Cook to produce a ton in his last innings, he probably would have said…

    …words to the effect of, “now look here, young man, I don’t do requests”. An understandable, reasonable position.

    But still Ali Cook delivered the ton today, OK?

    Did you see what I did there?

  4. There was that one time he tried a ramp shot which was hilarious and wonderful.

  5. I rewatched highlights of his 294 yesterday as i couldn’t remember the circumstances of his dismissal. I assumed that given it was Cook batting on 294 he must have tickled one to the keeper down leg or perhaps was caught at a solitary slip driving. He was actually caught pretty much on the point boundary playing a very expansive and seemingly deliberate aerial square drive. A shot that i have no recollection of ever seeing him play, and a little like when Root loses all his shape in the last few overs of a 2020 and tries unsuccessfully to slog, looked most unconvincing. I’m assuming he only had a certain amount of time to get to 300 but it was still most strange as the field was pretty much all back as well so could have done it in singles. Most un-Cook like really. Can anyone else put context to this as my memory simply fails me?

  6. Breathless stuff from Pant.

  7. I’m a big fan of Rashid but he’s got to be worrying for his place after that spell. Root taking both his spinners out of the attack because they’re being hit and then bringing himself on to bowl a maiden isn’t a great look for the frontline bowlers.

    • King Cricket

      September 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      Don’t really get Root’s use of Rashid. He seems like the latest in a long line of England captains who just fundamentally do not want to deal with a leg-spinner.

      • It’s baffling. I like having him in the side but you’ve got to wonder what the point is if he isn’t going to bowl.

        And not to excuse his poor spell but it can’t be great for his confidence when your captain gives the impression he’d be quite happy to let him play a specialist number nine batsman.

      • King Cricket

        September 11, 2018 at 3:42 pm

        No, quite.

  8. This partnership is now worth 177 from 37 overs. India need another 166 from 33 overs.

    This partnership needs breaking. I get that what is already a remarkable effort requires another remarkable effort on top of that, which is unlikely, but even so. We’ve six overs to go before the new ball is due – something needs to happen.

    • And that something is…

      …tea.

      To be fair, I like tea.

    • It’s always frightfully helpful when Bert chips in with his arithmetical genius and cricketing insights to go along with it.

      I think I’ll pour myself a cup of tea and try to get my head around the whole endeavour. Either that, or wake me up when it’s all over.

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