Will Alastair Cook deploy the carrot?

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< 1 minute read
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

History tells us that when it comes to declarations, Alastair Cook is not a carrot-dangler. History tells us that when the moment comes, the carrot will be unsighted for Pakistan and they will in fact be only dimly aware of its existence.

The match and series situation also hint at a cautious declaration. It is 1-1, there is much on the line and it has taken quite an effort for England to haul their way back into this match. The effort they’ve invested makes even the faintest risk so much less likely. Sunk costs and all that.

Then again, history also tells us that Alastair Cook the batsman is a plodder, yet in this series he’s been positively piratical, slashing the ball to the boundary with a joyous “Ha-haaa!” as if he’s been possessed by the still-very-much-alive Sanath Jayasuriya.

The only thing of which we can be certain is that by the time you read this article, the decision will already have been taken and these few short paragraphs will seem entirely redundant. Might be worth checking the comments though. There’s probably something witty, insightful and still relevant down there.


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    1. Realised we’d inadvertently raised expectations, so thought we’d instantly dash them.

      You’re welcome.

      1. We’d intended to leave it hanging, but worried people might be put off making the first comment.

    2. Have to say , O king, that first comment passes as really relevant, insightful and incredibly funny with 50% of our household

  1. Having read the first comment, I’m slightly concerned about what’s actually been left hanging

  2. Turns out @finnysteve has spent the match thus far setting them up for the good one! Looking forward to an afternoon of comic tailend incompetence…

  3. Missed opportunity in the hover caption, KC.

    “Alistair Cook opts for the stick rather than the carrot”.

    In the end, I think it fair to say that he hedged his bet and went for the sticky carrot. Shouldn’t make any difference to this result as it seems to be turning out.

    But you never know when such conservative decision making will bite you on the bum. Presumably that is the sentiment you were paraphrasing with your pithy first comment on this thread. The alternative hypothesis about that comment doesn’t bear thinking about.

    1. Is there a lot of hard evidence for Cook being particularly conservative in his declarations, relative to, say, Strauss? There’s often a lot of grumbling about his decisions (some of it from me, I hasten to add), but how many times has he – with the benefit of hindsight – definitely got it wrong?

      Of Cook declarations in matches England haven’t gone on to win, the main one that I can recall is the 2nd Test against South Africa over the most recent winter, but declaring at 629/7 and then conceding 627/7d doesn’t seem all that conservative?

      I guess Sri Lanka at Lord’s might be considered a conservative declaration if you expect weather forecasts to be taken into account. Any others I’ve forgotten or repressed?

      1. Strauss was also overly conservative in his declaration decisions when captain, which bit him on the bum more than once.

        Somewhere between commentator recklessness and overly conservative England captains, there is a happy declaration place, where the decisions have a perfect balance between risk and reward.

        I’d like to think that I occupy that happy place, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

        England bowled well today and I thought Cook changed his field placings/bowlers pretty well too.

        It was a good match and I feel honoured to have been there for the first three days.

  4. ‘Dangling the carrot’ is something commentators say when they get a fresh batch of getonwithititis, it doesn’t actually help in any way.

    If Cook had declared overnight with a lead of 311 he’s had to have spent all day worrying about run rates. Instead he made an actual good declaration that allowed him to spend almost all day with attacking fields and keeping England going after wickets, even after the ball got old.

    Not going for the win didn’t stop Pakistan collapsing when England got themselves on top – as we’ve seen time and time again from teams who’re trying to save a test.

    After two near-universally mocked decisions Cook has brought this team from1-0 down against a good side to 2-1 up. I’m pretty fucking relieved to have him charge and not people who would throw matches away for the sake of commentaryisms like ‘dangle a carrot’.

    1. I thought he timed it perfect (even did exactly what Warne had said, and leave the prospect of 4 overs with the new ball if required) and we bowled beautifully, except for the few overs of short-pitched intimidatory dross at the last pair which led to some comedy slogging and nicking and even induced the posting of a long stop! There were overthrows too. What else could you ask for in a day’s play? (OK, Ballance/Vince/Cook bowling but you can’t have everything).

    2. A personal view is that there is a tendency to see declarations as either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when the truth is that how you play from then on is of far greater importance. As we said the other day, you’re normally choosing between two correct options as any side declaring is already in a good position anyway.

      That said, there are occasions when giving the opposition a reason to play attacking shots can help bring wickets. This wasn’t necessarily it, but those occasions are when Cook’s predisposition towards conservatism would likely count against him. They’re rare situations though.

      The reason for this article was that it was quite obvious that Cook wouldn’t indulge in carrot dangleage, so all the declaration talk seemed, to us, to be largely pointless.

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