So said Michael Vaughan after Cook had shelled an easy one early on. Where has he been looking? We’ve always felt like he drops a fair few – although maybe not by Vaughan’s own almost criminally low catching standards.
We wouldn’t go so far as to say that Cook’s a bad slip fielder. If we were called upon to deliver a one-word appraisal of his ability, we’d go with ‘serviceable’.
Maybe people have now seen him catch so many that they forget all the misses and assume he’s some sort of bucket-handed Flintoff figure. He’s not though – and it’s not just a feeling.
When Charles Davis counted up all the drops in Test cricket from 2000 to 2016, no non-wicketkeeper had dropped more than Cook. If plenty were perfectly forgiveable short leg snatches, the opener was nevertheless responsible for 62 non-catches in that time. Vaughan must have seen at least a couple of these. He was Cook’s captain in 18 Tests, after all.
Fortunately for Cook, England’s bowlers created a veritable barrage of opportunities on day one at Lord’s which allowed him to secure his 152nd and 153rd catches by the end of the day. (If you feel moved to compare that with the incomplete tally of Cook drops above, it’s worth knowing that around a quarter of chances are grassed in Test cricket.)
Ben Stokes, in particular, made even jaded old seen-it-alls leak oooohs, such was the swing he mustered. The misses were so near and so frequent that at one point even the umpire did a sharp intake of breath and a ‘how did that miss?’ face.
It was all rather glorious for England until the West Indies came out and did exactly the same thing only without dropping any.