Roger Alton Roger Alton

Spectator Sport: The unstoppable Cook

If, as seems universally accepted, eggs is indeed eggs, then the only other certainty in an increasingly troubled world is that Alastair Cook will eviscerate every English batting record, apart possibly from the highest individual score.

If, as seems universally accepted, eggs is indeed eggs, then the only other certainty in an increasingly troubled world is that Alastair Cook will eviscerate every English batting record, apart possibly from the highest individual score. His technique, concentration and stamina are monumental; his ability to eliminate risk is awesome. Even Stuart Broad said he had to smile from the dressing room as he watched Cook elaborately leave a loose ball outside the off stump. He was on 290 at the time: dispiriting for bowlers, remarked Broad. You don’t say…

The first time I became aware of Cook’s prodigious performances was in 2005 when he won the Cricket Writers’ Young Player of the Year award. He had scored a good double hundred for Essex against the touring Australians, and I turned to my neighbour at the awards dinner, who happened to be one Michael Brearley, and asked what Cook was like. Brearley’s expression left nothing to question: Cook was clearly, in his view, the real deal. And yet, and yet. Will children still unborn one day turn to us and say, did you see Alastair Cook bat? Just as we might find some rheumy octogenarian and say, so what was it like, watching Bradman bat? I wonder …

In retrospect it’s a good thing that Graham Gooch’s 333, against India back in 1990, wasn’t eclipsed. Gooch is a great and — because he’s so understated — sometimes underrated figure. He is a ’tache-tastic and unfashionable hero who has done so much for Essex, England, Cook himself and of course the hair-plugs industry. And how many other great English figures have worn a moustache with such distinction? Clement Attlee, Terry-Thomas, the Beatles (briefly). It’s not a long list.

But gosh this England cricket team is scarily good.

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