I think it’s becoming increasingly clear to anyone who watches cricket that Alastair Cook will, barring accidents, become one of the great English – and perhaps world – batsmen. He’s no Sehwag, he’s no Lara, he’s no Hayden – I knew Sehwag, Lara and Hayden – and he ain’t them.
He’s just a batsman, like Barrington, Boycott, Tavare, Haynes, Border, Gavaskar. He doesn’t want you to love him, he wants runs. But that’s because it’s his job and he wants to be damn good at his job – the best that he can be, just like anyone else. The difference between most of us and Alastair Cook is that he has the possibility to write himself into history, albeit a tight, geeky, restricted history. His deeds are already written, and what he does from now on will also be written, whatever happens – he is history. We are bones, but Alastair Cook is history.
Frightening, en’t it?
Not really. You see, Cook does what he can to the absolute best of his ability and that is really damn good. Is he boring? Hell, I watched England in the 90s and I can tell you that boring is 44/5. I can tell you that boring is 200/2 and 265 all out. Boring is Thorpe looking good now on 74, untroubled so far…oh he’s bowled him!!!
That is boring. Cook on 99 and he pushes for two that’s his hundred is not boring. It’s bloody good. England have not had bloody good batsman from late Gooch and Thorpe until Cook and Strauss (19 hundreds, believe it or don’t). But Cook is bloody good. Great? Well, when he’s on 35 hundreds with an average of 60, we can talk about great. He is just bloody good.
We can all try to be bloody good, but most of us can do that and be subsumed into the realm of carriage clocks and watches after 50 years’ service or whatever it will be now. We won’t be written up, described, argued over.
Cook might not be a great, he might even be dull. But he is, already, if not immortal then of greatly delayed mortality. And I think that’s why he bats. And bats. And bats. It’s what he does. It’s what gives his life permanence.
I’d do anything slowly and carefully enough if it meant I’d be remembered for hundreds of years for it. Even if hacks for crap newspapers thought I was boring.