We’re mostly talking about Sam Cook this week

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Only one team successfully beat both the weather and the opposition this week and Sam Cook’s 10-73 was Essex’s most significant contribution. Those figures were also a pretty handy rebuttal to anyone who suggested Cook was a bowler guaranteed to suffer at the listless hands of the slumberous Kookaburra ball.

First things first: Little Chef is an excellent nickname. Alastair Cook was of course Chef, so his junior team-mate acquired this even better nickname.

In an ideal world, we’d like to see this nomenclature thread extended into outright nonsense. Perhaps opening partner Jamie Porter could become Happy Eater on the basis that he isn’t Little Chef. Is there then an Essex bowler known for his ill temper who could become Unhappy Eater?

Domino nicknaming: it’s an underutilised methodology.

Sam Cook’s England chances

A week or so ago, we flagged a few 20-something English seamers who are currently jockeying for position. We focused on those who have already played Test cricket, but Cook must also be in the mix. A first-class average of 19.48 in fact suggests he’s better than any of them.

What has always counted against Cook is that he is a little nondescript as a bowler. He’s excellent, yes, but he lacks those typical Test bowler qualities that are harder or impossible to acquire – like extreme pace or towering height.

He is, in this respect, very similar to Porter, who has 471 first-class wickets at 23.72 and zero Test caps to his name. If that feels an injustice, it’s unlikely to be rectified now because if England did suddenly fancy an 83mph line and length seamer, they’d presumably go for this younger model with the lower bowling average.

And that’s actually not impossible because although they don’t seem to seek them out, the national side are not in fact fully averse to such bowlers – Ollie Robinson, for example.

While Robinson does admittedly have a bit more height to offer, counting against him of late is the fact he also seems to bring more than his fair share of other stuff. (Our Exasperation-o-Tron 9000, which is specifically calibrated to pick up signals from the England camp went off a few times over the winter.)

Damp Kookaburra

Until this week, a strong argument against picking Cook was the likelihood he’d shape up as reliably accurate cannon fodder when operating with the Kookaburra cricket ball. (More on that bland sphere here.)

A hat trick in the first innings and 6-14 in the second though? We’re not sure an unseasonally high water table can fully explain that sort of performance.

Happy eating

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  1. It’s good that Sam Cook has established himself, as when he’s not bowling that well I always get the sense from his captain that A Change Is Gonna Come, although I must admit I didn’t know the story about his nickname, I guess I Don’t Know Much About History.

    1. Disregarding the dropped ‘e’ for a moment, I was briefly mixing up your Sam Cook(e) with another legendary R&B singer of yesteryear. Turns out he was equally prone to nominative culinary confusion… despite being known as Salmon Dave, he was actually more of a sole man.

      1. Sadly in later life he lost a lot of money investing in a business that made fragrances for specific body parts based on dried seeds. When the pitch was made to him he didn’t take that extra moment to think to himself, ‘hold on, arm cumin?’

  2. With Cook, I do sort of get why England wouldnt pick him. But that record, almost solely in Division 1, is absurd and does make you wonder – what average would a bowler like him need to take 250 wickets at to get in an England squad?

    What if a bowler with no real pace or height and at a relatively unfashionable county took 250 wickets at 17? 12? Where is the threshold where England think “yeah, probably worth looking at you instead of Anderson against West Indies B at home”?

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