So long, Farewell, Alastair

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So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:50 pm

While growing up, my dad had a close friend who was a boxer, at one point European Middleweight champion, and who at his peak had fought at world contender level. As a fan of the ancient art of pugilism, I once asked him what he thought separated the best boxers from the merely good; in response, he told me that all his favourite boxers knew when to quit. I understood his point. In a sport where natural selection seems to dictate that the very best are born with such massive levels of self belief and determination, that they dedicate their lives to a past time where injury, disability or death can occur as a result of not quite being up to standard, there is no other forum in sport where those who are past their best find out in such stark, painful lessons.

I was always a fan of Evander Holyfield. To me, the charismatic Alabaman signified everything I love about boxing; a fearless warrior with a granite chin, and a spirit that could never be beaten. He lacked the size and power of other heavyweights, having a natural size much smaller. Yet, what others made up for in physical attributes, they could never touch Holyfield's level of determination and character. You could out punch him, but as long as the final bell had yet to sound, he would still be walking forward. Famously, Riddick Bowe once beat him then dumped the belt he had won in the bin rather than face the mandatory rematch, telling Evander he could go get it if he wanted it. Sadly though, the lasting personal memory of his glittering career would be him stepping into the ring vs James Toney well into his 40s, the speed, the reflexes; all gone. For seven rounds he took an almighty pasting against a younger, hungrier, quicker and fitter opponent. The only thing left in his body of any boxing use, his determination not to give in, had switched to a curse. Once everything else has deserted him, all that toughness just elongated the pain.

This summer, when I have watched Alastair Cook bat, I cant help be construct a parallel between him and the ageing warrior boxer. Cook has clearly declined, a decline that is consistent and becoming ever more pronounced. His will not to concede to the inevitable has predictably turned ugly; its not dramatic statement to say this summer that his batting has been annihilated against a series of quality pros still at the top of their game. Its the type of annihilation that leads even the most determined and confident to the path of self doubt, and once Cook lost that aspect of his cricketing make up, he lost the majority of what made him so successful in the first place. Nevertheless, its the type of full on routing that maybe was needed to convince Cook that the struggle was over. We had to get through a few rounds of savage beatings before he realised it, its part of who he is, and what made him so good in the first place.

Its hard to judge a player like Cook. To understate what he meant to English cricket would be an insult. A player doesnt play 160 test matches, all but one of them in a row without missing a game, without proving he can play to the top level for many years. Nevertheless, there is a feeling at 33 that he declined too early, that on some level he has failed to live up to what he could have been. All that is underlined by the manor of his exit, where all the wheels have fallen off. For a player who's legacy is so tightly pinned to the idea of immense longevity, did he last long enough in years to justify that? Did he maintain his top performance long enough to justify that? Cook is a hard player to box in the grand scheme of English cricketing legend.

Taken as whole, Cook had what can be described as a mostly classic career path for an opening batsman. It starts with initial success. When he arrived at Nagpur in 2006, he put down a marker that will remain as one of the most impressive debuts that I have witnessed, especially taken into context. Drafted into the team at the last minute, arriving on a plane and barely recovered from jetlag, he set about batting out over 400 balls in conditions in India where English batsman have typical struggled. This type of innings was where his strength lay. Anchoring the top order, wearing down the bowlers, keeping his concentration for days on end, cashing on on the bad balls when they drifted on his pads. He wasnt especially gifted with a range of shots, but there was enough in the locker. Bowl too short to the body, he'd pull you. Drift onto the pads, he;d whip you to the boundary. Drift short on the off side, he'd cut. Too full, and he'd lean into the drive. Nothing much else apart from the defence and the leave.

Like all batters that are successful, there was inevitably a second phase. When you put yourself onto the radar by scoring runs, teams have to work out how to get you out, what your strengths and weaknesses are, how to bowl to you specifically and not others. This stage is the breaking of many a cricketer, once a chink in the armour is found, a batsman needs to technically respond. After three great series in test cricket, Australia would give him a baptism in 2007, his only score coming when the series was over after 3 tests, and a 20s something average for the series. It was clear by this stage that Cook's technique could be picked apart, even despite his patience and stoic determinism. The Aussie got stuck into him, bowled in the right places, and made him struggle.

These problems were largely covered over through a combination of youthful forgiveness and the feasting on bad bowling to make up. In the lead up to the next Ashes Cook would score 4 hundreds against a pathetic Windies attack, sandwiched between 6 tests with a high 20s average and a best of 61 v a hardly amazing Kiwi attack. 5 tests v India with a low to mid 30s average performance. He did a good job against the Saffers (averaging low 40s away), but without any telling match winning 100s. And come the Ashes, come the massive problems again..... in 2009, the Australians once again exposed all of his faults. An average of 24 for that summers effort. Yet again, dead pitches against poor attacks came in the shape of a BD series away, yet again the problems were swept under the carpet with hundreds, one in each test. To set the scene, England scored 600'6 in one test, and scored over 700 for 11 wickets lost in the second. Not really career defining knocks against poor attacks.

Harking back to these days of 2010, these are not narratives I have created. There was a very established thread of opinion that Cook was a bit of a flat track "only bats against West Indies or Bangladesh" type player. His overall record propped up on mostly easy runs, with Australia particularly crushing him. In hindsight the problem was a technical one, one that really manifested itself to good quality pace bowling, and especially when the ball moved.

It wasnt really until the summer of 2010 that his technique was acknowledged as being problematic. Having patched up the problems until then, the band aid was ripped off in cruel terms. Firstly, he found ways to get out three times cheaply against the touring BD team, which raised alarm bells slightly. Then, when Asif and Amir arrived, to put it simply, they outclassed him for most of the series. The summer seemed perennially damp, humid, and the Pakistani new ball pair made that ball talk. Cook had no answer for it, he snicked, he missed one, his feet were all over the place. His head bobbed about. He flashed at anything on off stump lines. He played the first three tests like he'd had 10 cans of beer as preparation for each innings. He'd lost where his leave line was, lost his footwork, lost his mind. The best example came at Edgbaston when, after a barrage of edge scrapping swingers, Mo Asif bowled a disgusting long hop way down the leg side, only for Cook, whose head and body was all over the place and falling off balance, feathered the ball onto gloves and behind to Kamran Akmal.

Some English fans tend to only follow summer season matches almost exclusively. After an Ashes series in which he'd been pounded, a very poor series v BD and now the constant clueless capitulation v Pakistan, its easy to forget how much pressure Cook was under for his place at this time. The message boards raged with attack and defence of Cook, which I say slightly favoured dropping him at this point. The general point as stated above; the ball moved, he was a lamb to slaughter. Against quality bowling, he was poor. On flat tracks vs Windies, he was Bradman. It was a relative golden age, a low 40s average and bad form at the time meant another cab off the rank could get their opportunity. In the end, luck went his way. He scored a last innings hundred for the series, but he edged twice just before the hands of the fielder before he got to double figures. He edged again not long after at a very catchable height, but (being generous to a team who later were charged with fixing) 2nd and 3rd slip both left the catch to each other and watched the ball go straight through. He was out lbw not long after that, but the Pakistani's debated the review so long, by the time they asked for it the umpire said no. If neither of those things had happened, its extremely unlikely, but vaguely possible that Cook would not have played another test. As it was, it was the jolt he needed to acknowledge that his technical game wasnt good enough.

And thats when you have the third stage of a successful career; success in recognizing your faults and correcting them. In the few months that passed to the away ashes, he had clearly worked hard to correct those errors. For the next two years, Cook was untouchable. The old chinks were not there, bowlers became clueless how to bowl to him. The head was steady, he could leave, he could defend, and he wanted to bat all day.

For me, his 235 in Brisbane is his best innings. The Aussies had predictably wracked up a huge lead. Same old England, same old story in OZ. Cook was having none of it. His seemingly endless innings even had the usual never say die Peter Siddle looking perplexed. It was a statement, this is not an England team that rolls over after the first setback and gets crushed in the second dig, but one that stands tall and digs in when faced with adversity. The match was a draw, but the psychological blows that Cook had rained down on the Aussies in that effort were to last. England came away with the momentum.

235*,148, 82, 189, 133, 96, 106, 55, 294, 94, 94 all flowed from his bat in the next series of matches that followed. Then the Indian away series.... 176, 122, 190 in consecutive games. In the space of the Pakistan series of 2010 ending, and the end of the Indian away series of 12/13, Cook when on the two hardest historical tours averaged over 100, with 5 scores of 150 plus in 10 tests. At home, he also averaged 55 plus. In this period, there was no one in the world who could touch him. Cook had lived up to his billing as a potential world beater, as a possible England great.

Sadly, the end of that Indian series of 12/13 was a false dawn. Far from being the 27/28 year old on the cusp of a protracted period of legendary dominance, it seems that it is the start of the decline. As a team, captaining his first solo full time series (he captained in Strauss absence in 2010), everything started to unravel a little. Whether or not this is Cook's fault is not for me to speculate, the team had shown signs in the UAE and vs South Africa that there was problems brewing, and that the golden age was ending. Cook had an unflattering end to the series in NZ where the team scrapped against a line up that were predicted to be blown away. England won the 2013 home ashes despite consistent batting woes, joined by Cook who struggled to register anything useful. Then the away 13/14 series and the KP affair blew the lid off in spectacular fashion. From NZ 2013 to now, Cook played about 45% of his tests. He has averaged 39, with only 9 hundreds in his last 75 tests. Thats a long time of a career to below what would usually be accepted as a good standard (say plus 40 for a specialist bat).

At this time its hard to really like Cook as a person. For all that has been said of the man in the press in recent days, about his nice character and him being a great team player, there is a sense of his benevolence morphing into self protectionism, in the way that so many dictators fall into patterns of authoritarianism to protect what they believe is right. The ECB and English cricket team heads seemed to put great effort to present Cook in new terms; as a fearsome and charismatic leader who could take England out of their decline. As a great doer, or with enough moral fibre to bring together the shambles that the KP had left behind. He might not have been the instigator of it, but certainly in the response to criticism and the way he handled himself, he began to believe in the hype. This was an attitude that severely damaged the English game , that turned fans away from the team. He must always, now and in the future, forever wear that as a badge of criticism.

As a Captain, I found Cook to be a coward. A nice guy does not stick by and let his top player take all the criticism for abject failure. A man of steel does not absolve himself of blame and buy into his own cult of personality, and use that as a cloak to mask his own misgivings. Cook's captaincy came to signify that. He was protected by his bosses, while others were fed into the grinder. People didnt buy it. They didnt care to protect decisions on who lead the team, or scapegoats, they just wanted to see the team steered in the right direction, as a meritocracy. A real leader would never let that happen on his watch, would have spoken out, would have attempted to change the culture. Cook was happy to sit on his throne. Tactically, he was also far too cautious. I dont think he had great cricketing ideas, nor a creative thought process.

That's not to say that I think he's a bad person, just a naive one reveling in the power that being leader gives you. People may disagree, but its been apparent to me ever since 2013 that Cook has cut the figure of a person seriously doubting what he is doing. Id certainly have said by the Sri Lanka series in 2014 he had visually lost the same passion and fire that used to be there. In small pockets, it has come back in those few years, probably an explanation as to why his career has digressed to a few huge scores, surrounded by dross. Yet, at the time he was 29/30. Such doubts and questions he had about his own game could have easily re-sparked more permanently. They never seem to. The experience as captain in those hard times seemed to permanently damage him as a cricketer.

Now, there is no question that his skills and passion have disappeared. He admits "the tank is empty". We all knew that anyway. First the desire starts to wane, then the hard work starts to be compromised. All this leads to the reality he now faces, that yet again like in 2010 v Pakistan, his head is on the move. His feet arent moving like they were. His sense of where his wickets are leaving the ball, and what he should play, are compromised. He might only be 33, but once that happens, you either need to have the energy to start again, or realise that you are fodder. And with regards to the latter point, I think after this year he has realised that he is fodder. He needs to evolve, to revolutionize his game to once again even be marginally successful. That takes some doing after 160 games. It takes super human levels of desire to even want to do it after that long. He doesnt need to apologise for not wanting to.

The fact he wants to walk away rather than try probably leads us to a sound conclusion about him and his position in the history of the game. The fact, at 33, he no longer wants to work hard enough to sustain his career at the highest level shows us why he never attained the level of a Tendulkar. More so that, despite the calls that he works hard, he has let his overall technical game slip consistently over the last few years. Its not enough to get out on the field of play and want it bad, to bat like your life depends on it; without the technical ground work you dont have the tools to succeed. I cant help but feel that his torrid time as captain, with all that went on, steered him away from what really mattered as a player. That his speedy decline has a lot to do with losing that passion to put the ground work in. It might sound like a criticism, but very few players work hard enough to become a Tendulkar or a Lara. I remember at the age of 32 or 33 Lara being taken apart in England and Australia in 2000. Both teams gave him the honour guard on the final test of the series, they didnt expect him to be playing much longer. He scored 13 hundreds in his next 30 odd tests. Beat a world record. Scored 5 x 200. Averaged 63, 74, 58 an 65, 41 in 5 of his next 6 years. If you want to be the best, even at that age you need to want it, to work for it. Lara wanted it, wanted it more than you could believe.... you reap what you sow at the highest level of the game.

So what level did he achieve? The level directly below those timeless legends. The merely very good. For English cricket, it might have made sense for him to never have taken the job as captain, and to have continued to focus his energy on scoring runs. In 2012, had he done that, I have no doubt he'd have attained his place among the pantheon of legends. He could do what those legends could do, in the toughest tours, against the toughest players. He played for as long as many of the best. Yet sadly, he took that job. I think that sucked the life and soul out of him, and that ruined him. I dont think its possible with modern day scrutinty, long tours under the microscope, and every word micro-analysied to the nth degree, for a player to last long in that environment.

Whatever you think, when the next test begins and the England number one strolls out, he deserves a solid ovation. Hes sacrificed most of his young adult life to the cause of the team, 12 years none stop. That certainly in my book needs to be acknowledged from fans. No one has scored more runs or played more tests for England. He certainly will remain a legend in the context of the English game. Will there be another player of his mould? Id like to think so, but I wouldnt bet my house on it!

Well played Cookie! Good luck in the future!
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:16 pm

Additionally, I always found that Cook was at his best when Trott or KP made runs below him, especially the later. I think KP was a perfect foil for Cook, allowed him to get on with his game and block while KP took on the attack more positively and put them on the back foot. The absence of KP in the team post 13/14 seems to lead Cook to far worse performances, so its a hunch that plays out on statistical analysis. And if true, it also underlines how self defeating his refusal to stick up for KP as captain, and watch it all drift by, really was.

Id be interested now he's quit, when the book comes out and a few truths may come with it. Not sure Cook has ever said much, but I am sure no wage and a decent advance would get him talking.
Last edited by sussexpob on Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Dr Cricket » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:16 pm

Very good post.
sussex.
do you think the same thing will happen with root in regarding the captaincy,
he probably the one that looks like being affect the most by the captaincy out of the big 4.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:28 pm

Excellent stuff. The reflections in the press are inevitably more positive, but this is the best overview I've read.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:30 pm

Captain Steely: 46.6
Private Cook: 43.8
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:43 pm

Arthur Crabtree wrote:Excellent stuff. The reflections in the press are inevitably more positive, but this is the best overview I've read.


Aggers article made me cringe. It sounds like a 14 year old girl writing a love letter to a member of One Direction.

There is room to be positive for Cook, but as I reflected above, he has been a hard personality to like at points where the whole setup made it difficult to really passionately follow the team, and as a batsman he's been hard to really full get behind since about the start of 2013. Thats a long time. In England's darkest hours post the 90s, he's been a batsman who declined in his 20s, and at times a very deluded leader of the team who, at best, failed to be inspiring at a time we all needed it.

Others will have different views. I would think many people on the other side of the KP affair might have much more gushingly positive views. I, myself, think that will always leave a patch on him as a man and captain. And, I truly believes he knows that, and is one of the reasons why his career dips.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:49 pm

Dr Cricket wrote:Very good post.
sussex.
do you think the same thing will happen with root in regarding the captaincy,
he probably the one that looks like being affect the most by the captaincy out of the big 4.


It maybe too early to make a sweeping judgement, but I have a feeling that it will damage Root's career, even if its just a temporary one. With Root and Cook, both seem to be quite weak individuals, and rather than just be that and accept it, the ECB or press seem to try to make them out to be macho, superhero type men who dont look at explosions or what not. I think that pressure to act unnatural puts a huge stress on them. There always seems this lost in translation type environment between the team and the public, its hard to put your finger on, but it largely comes down to that sort of miscommunication. One only has to look at the ECB social media output to realise they bill the team players as infallible superstars. There seems a huge slap on the back mentality, but one that feels knowingly unnatural.... might not make any sense, but its just a personal observation.

It all leads to a lot of choking pressure on the captain. I dont see Root as a natural leader at all, but I dont see any alternative either. Yet in selling him as a natural leader, and with Cook, it creates problems.

Cook looked worn out most of the time he was England captain.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Dr Cricket » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:00 pm

yeah just wandering because in this series Root looked warned out as a captain and he did struggle with the bat as well and for the first time since the ashes in 2013 did he feel vulnerable with the bat.

Although with this series win root will have some breathing space in terms of captaincy but it could be short lived with a tough sri lanka series coming up and the Ashes next year.

but like you say not too many captaincy option in the side.

think captaincy did definitely ruin cook career though, he would certainly score more runs for england if he wasn't captain, hopefully they don't ruin root career as well with the captaincy considering England do not really have many batting option in the side even if in theory they can bat to 9 or 10 but not sure being 100/5 all the time is quite wise policy in scoring totals.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby bigfluffylemon » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:48 am

Good article sussex. I don't agree with everything, but definitely with most of it, and it's well written and thought provoking.

I think the warning signs are there that Root is suffering from the same issues. Not only is his batting in a form slump, he seems unable to put his stamp on the team as a firm leader. He is getting dictated to by Anderson and Broad on who to bowl and when, he can't keep discipline (Bairstow, Stokes et al.), and is unable to impose his own vision on a team whose selection is becoming farcical. And his tactics have often been worse than Cook's. Whether it's terminal or part of his learning curve remains to be seen. Ironically, the retirement of Cook and Anderson may be the making of him as a leader, as he will not have the old hands to turn to and to dictate to him. I guess we'll see.

I always liked Cook as a player and a person, and I think he was hard done by in the KP affair (which I thought was handled atrociously by all concerned). But his commitment to England for 12 years cannot be questioned. It's going to be very strange in November to see an England opening pair walk out to bat without him. End of an era. I hope he gets a fitting send-off, but sport rarely writes fairytale endings.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:30 am

Cook and Root strike me as line captains in that they are and were responsible for channelling the influence of their managers. Whereas even slightly before them, with Hussain and Vaughan, who had a very prominent coach, the XIs were very much their teams. As always had been the case for the captains going back over the years.

And I think that diminishes the later leaders, as I feel the captain has to be above the coach, given the unusually tactical nature of the game on the field.

Considering Cook's captaincy, he seems to be poor in every way... except results! Results held up well, especially compared with the very bad captains of the eighties like Gower, Gatting and Botham. And he still scored runs.

When listening to the extremely diffident, incoherent, resentful and uncharitable Cook sulk his way through an interview (before I stopped listening), I despaired at him ever becoming captain at all. An unusually poor tactician too. However much he was dominated by his coaches in this respect, it was Cook who took those plans onto the field and takes responsibility for them.

But most of all I hold him responsible for the spirit in which England played the game, which was extraordinarily poor. Particularly his inability to stand up to Anderson's petulance, peaking with with the incident at Trent Bridge against India.

Cook's reputations will weather well, because the last thing we know about a cricketer is their record. The lack of grace at the crease, the lack of personality and leadership qualities. The flat track tendencies. These subtleties will be the domain of the cricket scholar.

What is likely is that he will (with Anderson and Broad) be one of the last English players to unambiguously represent the primacy of Test cricket. And that impression of a last Samurai should endear him to me, instead of him playing a full part (with Jimmy the Saint) in making me want to look away.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:54 am

Arthur Crabtree wrote: Considering Cook's captaincy, he seems to be poor in every way... except results! Results held up well, especially compared with the very bad captains of the eighties like Gower, Gatting and Botham


From 2013.... bad results

0-0 in New Zealand..... one wicket away from losing the series, New Zealand had a 300 odd lead on the first innings at the first test. Rain prevented an inevitable loss. Worth noting that New Zealand had toured South Africa a month before this, and had suffered innings losses in all games. One game, I think they were bowled out for 40. It was acknowledged at the time they had the worst batting line up in test cricket.

0-5- Australia.... the worst series in England cricket history in my eyes.

0-1 Sri Lanka..... very very poor result. The touring Sri Lankans didnt have much.

1-1 Windies away.... another very poor side that out played us at points.

1-1 New Zealand at home.... not a disaster, but poor

0-2 v Pakistan in UAE....

2-2 Pakistan at home.... again, this was a team on a low ebb seemingly. We should have been them in home conditions

1-1 BD.... unacceptable really

0-4 India way.... never competed.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:56 am

As a measure of balance....

2013 and 2015, reclaimed ashes. 2014 beat India heavily. Away win in SA 2-1.....
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:05 am

The year they won the Ashes and (improbably) in SA was a good return from a very tricky 12 months. They saved Cook from the crisis he was sucked into after the Mitchwash. They even didn't lose 3-0 in UAE. But fair enough. The defeat in India was particularly supine in so many ways. Look at that squad and wonder what madness had taken hold.

Away form of course was terrible. But they held up reasonably at home, losing Tests to unfancied sides, but usually winning series even against the big teams.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby sussexpob » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:49 am

Re: your other points, AC....

It always seems to me that those in charge at the ECB were keen to sell the achievements of Flower's England as being worth far more than the actual substance. As England flourished as a team, everyone in the back office or leadership scrambled to claim a piece of territory as responsibility for that success, and when the inevitable downturn came, there was such investment in the Flower way, there was little option to acknowledge that the system they had created was actually the cancer, and not the cure. Its this closing of ranks protecting the culture and methodology of the team, when quite clearly the wheels were coming off, that grains so much personally as a fan. Scapegoats were served up, and lazy journos ate it all up, as well as a lot of fans who probably (a) didnt want to acknowledge England were no longer that good, and that (b) the cause for our temporal success was also the cause of a more permanent decline.

Flower's methods in my complete, unshakable view were never ones that guaranteed longevity. You can whip people into shape over a set period, but putting them on long tours over and over again and subjecting them to authoritarian environments..... it has a shelf life. Strauss was done as a test match performer by 2010, at 32. Cook declined in his 20s. KP was sacked at 33. Trott was medically retired at 32. Bell was done at the same age. Swann was in the 33ish region when he retired, well below other test match players (and only about 50 tests in total i think, its hardly like he had a massive long career). Prior was barely past 30. Bresnan played his last test at 28. Steve Finn, whats happened to his career after Flower had him bowling at cardboard cut outs? He's still in his 20s and disappeared. A whole generation of cricketers that essentially reached 30, and fell away.

Cook was part of the hack job. That is fine, when people went after KP it was probably not him leading the chase, but he was arguably gained the most out of it. He walked away from that Australian series with very little to pay in terms of a toll for his involvement, for his total failure as on field leader. And the environment discussed above also meant that those seeking to protect the previous regimes legacy and vision, meant he also never really got shredded after. Cook's ascendancy to captain had been a decision made as part of that vision, it was therefore not in the interests of his bosses to acknowledge it was a bad call. They doubled down, the acknowledgement of Cooks failures on high, in the media, also directly compromised the attempted cover up and scapegoating going on elsewhere.

So protected was Cook, that in the few times he copped stick personally from the media, he reacted to it like a child. He doesnt at all seem self-aware enough to understand that he wasnt the victim of anything, in fact quite the bloody opposite. He got it very easy. Yet, when he retired as skipper he moaned about being "hung out to dry" over KP, a bizarre contradictory interview where he at first seemed to be very keen to point out he had been involved in the decision, then straight after not want to claim any responsibility for it, or moan that people have targeted him over it. As usual, the media lapped up another playing of the victim card, called the interview as a gloves off, baring his soul type of honesty piece. No one seemed to say that (a) the decision was sh*t, so your judgement needs questioning (b) your the captain, you cant reveal in the glory and ignore the responsibility of bad judgement. It sums him up as a personality as captain; a guy unaware of the privilege position he had, who was defensive, pirckly and smug in response to criticism.

Of course, as part of that unshakable support he got from his peers and KP hackers, he had to indulge in the fantasy. He was given the opportunity to answer about people like Anderson or Prior's behaviour, and commented they were model professionals (I believe he did this even when Anderson was clearly not being one with Jadeja). He had the opportunity to comment on Flower's methods, and babbled on about how great Flower was. He had an opportunity to talk about KP, but hid behind the "I cant talk about it now" stance. Then when he could, he said to some people it was the right decision and he'd made it, and when criticized for that said someone else made it.

There isnt any leadership here. He refused to take accountability for his actions. He refused to ever try to stamp his own seal onto his teams. He was just a mouthpiece for ECB press releases. Boring, dour, going through the motions, taking offence. Came across as the type of guy that had everything, privileged upbringing, always the star..... and yet moaned at the slightest set back that he'd had it difficult. The cricketing equivalent of Clarkson's daughter moaning her books no longer get published because she is white and upper class (the girl who failed her a-levels, didnt go to uni, but got a journo job at a top paper and a publisher at 18 with no previous wriiting experience... you know the type :lmao )

As I said.... not likable at all in this period.
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Re: So long, Farewell, Alastair

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:08 pm

The thin skin, yes, at a time when the press was actually stroking his ego.

When we all remembered how an England captain was traditionally treated after a 5-0 defeat! But England sacked a player, admitting it was to protect Cook because he wasn't a strong enough personality to cope!

Paul Downton being the mouthpiece of Giles Clarke. Then Colin Graves coming in to pour petrol on the resulting flames. What a time.
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