'What would an inoffensive political cartoon look like?’ What would a respectful cartoon look like? The form requires disrespect and so if we are going to have in the world things like cartoons and satire, we just have to accept it as part of the price of freedom.' - Sir Salman Rushdie
Monday, 6 February 2017
The Tenacious Warrior Calls it a Day!
Captain Cook with the Ashes urn
The English batsmen are barely known for their ability to handle spin bowling; little did they know that the little known 21 year old batsman from Essex would come to Nagpur facing India in his first test - a side known for famous spinners with the likes of Harbhajan and Kumble; manages to score nearly 160 runs with a century on debut; would solve their crisis in handling spin - and that young lad was Alastair Nathan Cook.
Since his successful debut in India, there was no looking back as he solved England's long term opening crisis by being a sturdy batsman on whom the team could rely on. Using his skills with that bat and great sense of judgement; he managed to grab the spotlight early on in his career where it became inevitable that beyond a point, he was going to be Andrew Strauss' heir-apparent as captain. I'd focus more on Cook's stint as Captain Cook as the batsman is yet to retire from the game and in fact, has at least another five years to contribute to his side.
Cook's captaincy probably started on an rosy path, he inherited a very strong team from Andrew Strauss going on to stun India in their own backyard back in 2012, coming back from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1; probably one of the highest points of his captaincy early on and eventually going on to retain the Ashes 3-0. The honeymoon period came to an end where Pietersen left under controversial circumstances, Jonathan Trott leaves owing to health reasons, the lead spinner Graeme Swann and the wicketkeeper Matt Prior retiring, Cook's ability as a captain came under challenge - it was no longer the strong squad he inherited and he had to use his ability to rebuild the team and be determined throughout the process.
Cook's early taste of success - series win against India
Cook's real trouble began after the whitewash by Australia during the 2014 Ashes; the British media going impatient as always along with former captains such as Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan going on to question the ability of the young captain and whether he should be replaced. However, the captain had other ideas; rebuilding the squad with the likes of Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow and Cook himself significantly contributing with the bat; the fortunes turned for England with victories against Sri Lanka and regaining of the Ashes in 2015. During his captaincy, he also became England's all time highest run scorer (first English batsman to cross 10,000) and also the individual with the maximum number of test centuries to the extent that his critics from the previous year such as Atherton and Vaughan started lauding Cook for his abilities.
Cook becomes the youngest batsman to cross 10,000 runs
Surely, Cook would have liked to resign from captaincy under better circumstances rather than the leaving the post after the debacle in India - he still has a lot to be proud of and the current English team owe him a great debt for the success he given the team; call it conservative, it delivered results nonetheless. Additionally, Cook has not just been a captain who has delivered results in the present but has also had a vision for the future giving opportunities to several youngsters such as Haseeb Hameed, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, etc; has laid a strong foundation for the captain succeeding him in the future (most probably Joe Root, incidentally another Nagpur debutant) and what the next captain could learn the most from him is the tenacity and the determination to succeed, despite all criticism.
The silver lining for England is the fact that he is still continuing to play and the fact that he doesn't have the burden of captaincy anymore, the fans could hope to see many more great performances from him to come.