When you arrive before the whole world initially doing some extra-ordinary jobs, people all around you raise a question in themselves often, “For how many times ??” Then if you repeat that activity enough with ease, it becomes true or rather an accepted wisdom. One part of the universe suddenly pushes their expectations on a higher scale more and more untill demoting you into a box.
How Alastair Cook settled him in Test Cricket:
That’s almost the same story with the English media and certain fans who one-day will love to build you at the top of the tree and the very next day could cut the tree form the bottom. But among all the critics, we get a man who will always have knack of doing things easily. And that’s where the Cricketing world found Sir Alastair Cook, who was appointed the Knight Bachelor for services to Cricket in 2019 New Year Honors.
In typical English pitches of lush green grasses with overcast conditions or after fielding for 2-long days in the scorching heat of India, coming to bat for last 30-40mins. where your feet are dancing or facing Aussie quicks in those bouncy fast pitches or in any other conditions, the last thing you want to do will be the job of an opener. It’s the toughest task to survive sometimes but this left-hander had only the same way of getting to the groove; block, leave outside off, block, leave outside off (read again & again) and when the bowlers run out of gas, he jumped onto them to secure bulk of runs. Actually, he had made it a habit.
Cook in his Dream Debut:
Runs, centuries, number of minutes on the field or number of caps- in every prospect of the game, he was the topper in English Cricket. But the start was a call at the eleventh hour that was being enjoyed with a century on test debut. “I mean you don’t set goals like that do you.” Spelled out Cook at an interview with Gary-Nicolls. It was 2006 and he was on A-tour in Antigua preparing for the next level when the surprise arrived before him. “I just wanted to play once… then you know, you fast forward a week you’ve flown to India, scored a hundred and it’s amazing how quickly the game can change.” Described the new upcoming English great on his dream beginning at Nagpur.
Life in Cricket is slowly pacing for a bright future but couple of lean patches of run were making it too tough to survive for him in the dressing room of “Three Lions”. But life is so funny and unpredictable. A hundred at the Oval made sure that he would be on the plane for the 2010/11 Ashes tour. He rescued the Brisbane test with a double century and his centuries in Adelaide and Sydney took the series in the favor of England & the Barmy Army.
The biggest challenge was to tour India, the sub-continent where most of the other regions found it tough, even now hey find it hard to stick. Three centuries; one of which was in the second innings when the rough starts to play with the mental strength of batsmen, by new installed captain Cook helped the side to notch another memorable win in the pocket.
Till now, the graph was flying uphill but every great have a downfall in their career and it’s like an obvious. You go through the likes of Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting or Kohli; you find those tough times and that really shows the caliber and the depth of the man at the highest level.
Tough Times in the Life of Chef:
2013 Ashes and English team achieved victory on home-turf but this was a straight-forward one and not an extra-flavored Ashes where you find mind games, little bit of banter or the crowd challenge. Now, the end of the year saw the squad making a return down under and all on a sudden, the dark clouds began to gather on English Cricket. The worst ever defeat of 5-0 in the hands of Micheal Clarke & his boys; and to be fair, there wasn’t a single test where you could say England had a chance. Mitchell Johnson, the name was performing like a nightmare.
Omission of Kevin Peterson created a bitter taste in the mouth. The captain who was leading his team a year before got the status of a poor captain. Losing a home series in the hands of Sri Lanka added another page in the humiliating span. I could remember one game, possibly at Headingly, where the Lankan needed one wicket in the last over and guess what, they got it in the last ball of the last day of the match!!!
“The end of the Sri Lanka series and the second game at Lord’s, that period there was the lowest I was.”
England beat Ind 3-1 what was the downfall of Kohli that I was talking about a while ago. Cook somehow did spice up some cements in the building block of his captaincy. The color of shirt might change but not the fortune. Their exit from the WC-2015 in the hands of Bangladesh brought his end in the limited overs of the game.
The pressure was developing on the Essex boy. Soon, he delivered the test captaincy to growing young-star Joe Root, just to focus on his batting. May 2016 saw him achieving the landmark of 10k runs with a steady flow in crossing all the other milestones.
The World Throwing Cook under the Bus:
Now, come the 2018 English summer and to be fair all the points about the series were written on how captain Virat Kohli will face Jimmy Anderson after his rare failures 4yrs. ago, but who would had thought that at the end of the series; we would have had seen the last of Chef. It seemed like every Indian bowler had the number of the English opener, he was becoming the bunny of Shami, Ashwin and Ishant. The English media and some former cricketers began to lament Cook’s technique- his head was falling, feet weren’t moving at all, hands weren’t going at the ball and so on.
Prior to the final test of the summer, he declared his retirement. The feeling shifted to get the best of Chef for one very last time. When he reached 70 in the first innings, the crowd was slowly getting as a group in the wait of a 100 but all the hard-work went in vain with a big chance being missed. He was given a standing ovation because you never know whether he would get a second chance.
But God seemed to be waiting for a last daddy Cook century. After serving a nervy evening session against the Indian bowlers, he notched up his 33rd century and that too in a over throw, sending the crowd and the “Barmy Army” into the state of madness.
The Feelings of The Last Test 100:
“It was a great book end and it was a great way to finish. I’m never very good for words, words will never be able to sum up how that was.” Recalled Cook about the touching moment in his cricketing career. “It was embarrassing at one the game just stopped for like five minutes. It was extra-ordinary and I wasn’t emotional at all this week, but when I got that hundred, there was a little lump in my throat.”
The century again speaks highly about the greats and their approach. All the technical problems eased away and cut, pull, drives were started to launch sweetly. Actually, that was because he knew how and when to deliver. There was no pressure about the next game, next series or the next practice sessions, the mental state was free and all the blocks fell in the right places.
What I find most lovable about Sir Alastair Cook is his dedication not only to England but to his club also. There were so many English players who had never returned after the retirement but Cook with so much responsibility took the opposite route to serve his old club, Essex, who delivered him the best chances to live his dream but hardly got him due to the national commitment. Now, it’s the turn of the Former English Skipper to return something for them. “It’s a great club and it’s a great fun.” Cook said. “I enjoy playing with this bunch of lads.”
On his 36th birthday, we just want to thank him for all the fond memories that he had given us in his cricketing career. The cover-drives and the cut shots are among my personal favorites. He had served so many great records to English cricket. So many upcoming English players may arrive who can break his record of 12472 test runs but there is one and only Versatile, reliable Sir Alastair Cook- Once a Legend always a Legend.