Friday, June 15, 2007

Well Cooked

A lot has been said about Alastair Cook and how he is the first English cricketer (or cricketer representing England, to be precise) to make six test centuries before his 23rd birthday. What makes the achievement especially noticeable is that England is not necessarily known for blooding its players young. Or is it?

A look at the current team suggests that England is beginning to change this trend. Cook himself started at 21, as did Andrew Flintoff; Ian Bell was 22 when he made his debut. Even a look at the others suggests that the oldest debutant in the current squad is Andrew Strauss, who was a ripe, old 26 when he walked out in England colours for the first time. Just to complete the numbers, Mathew Hoggard and Ryan Sidebottom were 23, Kevin Pietersen, Monty Panesar and Steve Harmison were 24, while Paul Collingwood and skipper Michael Vaughan were 25 when they made their debuts. Not quite Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, and Mohammed Ashraful, but not a senior citizens’ parade either.

Back to Cook. Inasmuch as his batting has been impressive, his thinking also seems to be in the right direction, if this delightful ramble is any indication.

While his conversion rate of fifties to hundreds is quite impressive (five fifties and six hundreds), Cook’s six hundreds read as follows: 104 not out, 105, 127, 116, 105 and 106. He is still due a real big one. And his analysis of why he hasn’t got there is interesting.

Sometimes I perhaps tense up after passing a hundred and put pressure on myself by thinking I've got to go on and get a big one. But I just need to enjoy the moment more as that is the best time to be batting.

Of course, Cook is not a man after statistics.

Stats are interesting but they do not drive me. The one thing it does, I suppose, is put me in a different category as no other Englishman has done it before.

He has the whimsy, does the young lad. But he may just want to watch it and not cross swords with divinity.

We had a bit of a celebration after winning the series at Old Trafford. Vaughany got a bit of stick in the papers for enjoying himself too much and falling asleep outside a bar. But he was just a bit tired. It was a bit late for the old man and past his bedtime.

Cheeky, chef, but watch out for Vaughany’s response. “Cook is an extremely smart and earnest lad, but his comments did give sleepless nights to the team. We were all a bit tensed up and tried to stop sleeping – we tried a bit too hard. But Vaughan is fine now, he hasn’t taken offence at what Cook has said. Let’s go, Chef.”

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