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In the Telegraph, Simon Briggs speaks to music teachers and cricket coaches who were part of Alastair Cook's formative years.
Andrew Morris, conductor and former head of music at Bedford School
I appointed Alastair as a music scholar, and it was genuinely his music that I was looking at, even though I am an MCC member and take a close interest in sport. He is an instinctive musician with a natural sense of phrase and an ability to make a piece come to life, particularly on the piano. People might think it's extraordinary that he can concentrate for so long at the crease, but I don't find it surprising when you look at his background. When you're singing under John Scott, there's no room for taking a breath at the wrong moment, let alone a wrong note. You're performing under the Queen Mother in an iconic building like St Paul's, and it's about teamwork and accuracy, just like cricket.
John Childs, Essex Academy director, former second-team coach
Alastair made his 2nd XI debut at the age of 14 -- I think James Foster played in the same team -- and at first it was about making sure they had the right level of exposure. Not that Alastair was easy to faze: one of the things you soon notice about him is how calm he is under pressure. When he started he was so small he could hardly hit the ball off the square, but he had enough skills and technique to move the ball around and use its pace. I remember early on there was a second-team match against Northamptonshire at Dunstable where he made 20 or 30 not out to put us in a winning position.
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