November 2009
« Oct   Dec »

Sam Collins: Cameras don't lie as Cook fails TV audition

November 17th, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, Test cricket, Twenty20

Anyone who watches X Factor knows the format. Young hopeful stares blankly into the camera while a pantomime-villain in a suit reminds them they are hopelessly out of their depth.  For Alastair Cook, while the accusation was purely implicit, his villain was a Sky reporter, and there were no teenage girls watching at home to vote in and save him, just disgruntled fans of English cricket, bewildered at how a schoolboy could be leading their country.

Cook’s face has always fitted. He has the hair. He has the background. He has the talent. He has been an ‘FEC’ since his debut. He has nine Test hundreds at the age of 24. He is England vice-captain. Yet none of these mean a thing when the cameras are on you and you’ve just been thrashed.

Yesterday the words “you know” must have left his stuttering half-smile a dozen or more times in a truly gruesome five minutes for English cricket, in one of those post-match interviews that left you with finger poised over the remote but unable to press the mute button through a sadistic mixture of disbelief and curiosity. A colleague described it as like watching a job interview where the candidate had clearly done no preparation. It was confirmation of what we all feared – he is not yet up to the job.

Ignore the result – defeats happen, thrashings too. It is even possible to forgive the apparent lack of control in the field, as Richard Hobson in The Times described, “At one point four fielders were pointing instructions, none of them being Cook”. For a country obsessed with the cult of leadership, flimsy rhetoric in defeat is arguably a bigger sin.

“But he was nervous”. “It was his first time”. “He’s only young”.  “They were exceptional circumstances.” Relevant excuses, maybe, but still excuses. Cook is two years older than Graeme Smith was when he first led South Africa.  Smith may have taken a while to win over those who doubted his style, but at least he had one – bullish, aggressive and determined. The contrast to Cook – wide-eyed, shoulders drooping, every empty phrase a painful reminder of the Peter Moores school of management speak – was crushing.

Cook knows as well as anyone the importance of taking your opportunity. He has barely missed a Test since his hundred on debut as a late replacement in Nagpur, but here he missed an excellent chance to convince the ECB and a sceptical public that he is a viable replacement for Strauss in Bangladesh.

Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in England, Test cricket, Twenty20 | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Sam Collins: Cameras don't lie as Cook fails TV audition”

  1.   Taylor Chris says:

    Good observation. Cook is a muppet.

  2.   Roy Bull says:

    I think the “At one point four fielders were pointing instructions, none of them being Cook” quote is perfect….Am sure we’ve all played cricket here, does the fault lay with Cook or these 4 people taking it on themselves to make decisions. Personally I’d say the ‘extra’ captains need to be told the actual captain makes the decisions and if he’s wrong or right he is responsible. What do you think?

  3.   Sam Collins says:

    Roy I would guess that the blame lies with Cook for not possessing the authority to tell the other 4 fielders to shut it.

    Who else would you want to tell them for him, his mummy?

  4.   Vim says:

    The captaincy suddenly appeared to be up for grabs by the player who could point the hardest. I almost felt sorry for Cookie, except it was too funny.

  5.   Roy Bull says:

    Dont be silly Sam, these blokes are supposed ‘Professionals’ surely they know its not the done thing…..Am just hoping if Cookie gets another chance or whoever takes over etc it doesnt happen again, but I agree its kind of funny!

Leave a Reply

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved