England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day July 10, 2014

The joy of one, the pain of another

The No. 11 of India's order did something the No. 1 of England's order can only dream of at the moment: score a Test fifty

A young boy gets on a motorbike for the first time. The instructions are given to him. He looks on quietly. People expect him to struggle. Instead he takes to it fairly well. Muddy dirt tracks are handled with ease. He jumps off little ramps and holds on. He mostly works out the brakes and how to turn and tries, but fails, to pull off a wheelie. Eventually he stops, and the next boy gets on. A boy who has ridden a motorbike for years: yet he makes a simple mistake and rides straight into a BBQ.


Alastair Cook's first ball catches him by surprise. He has more Test hundreds than any other England batsman but he reacts late to the movement into him and an inside edge ends up at backward square leg. It is not a stunning show of confidence as he wanders to the other end confused.

Mohammed Shami's first ball is a length ball, India's No. 11 rocked forward and defends with the sort of certainty a man with a Test Average of 3.33 really shouldn't have. He's not overawed by his first moment in England. He's not overawed by facing Stuart Broad. He's not even overawed by the sudden collapse that has led to him being in. He's just playing a forward defensive shot.

Cook handles the next few balls fine. A yorker is dug out. He pushes to the legside looking for runs. He is handling the pitch with no demons like it's a pitch with no demons. The ball is not swinging or seaming.

Shami also handles his first few balls well. They bowl short, and he defends well and misses when trying to attack. He cracks one to point. And turns a ball into the leg side to get off the mark.

Shami's first boundary is a heave over the legside against a confused James Anderson. Shami is full of confidence having survived for a while and is now flexing a bit of muscle. He also whips a ball off his pads so well that he beats a man in the deep. He smacks Moeen Ali long and deep with a dance down the pitch. He cracks a short ball to the point boundary and no fielders move. And then to finally get to his 50 he hits a Test bowler with 358 Test wickets over the sightscreen.

Cook gets a ball on his hip and turns it to the rope.

Shami's innings is not all grace and beauty. He tries to upper cut one to third man. He mistimes one so badly he can't even find a fielder. Almost loses his off stump. Almost loses his toe. And is actually caught behind, despite the fact England didn't hear it. It was a quality innings for a No. 11, but not a quality innings.

Cook's innings isn't quality.

Cook faces nine of his ten balls from Shami, including the last one. Getting bowled around your legs can look unlucky. Bowlers don't plan for it very often. And even when they do, it rarely works. This is the sort of ball that Cook could have literally flicked to the leg side with a blindfold on, handcuffed upside down in a tank of water. Now his head leads away from the ball, his body tumbles after it.

Cook has never been pretty, but now he's ungainly and needlessly mobile. He can't stand up properly and exposes the leg stump. The ball flicks his pads and instead of rolling away safely for a leg bye it slams into legs tump. Cook has lost his way so much he can almost see the ball hitting the stumps.


Mohammed Shami had made a 50 before today, for Bengal U-22s four years ago. Alastair Cook has made 35 fifties at Test Level. Not forgetting 19 fifties in ODIs. There are also a few hundreds. And he once made 294. But Cook hasn't scored more than 51 in his last five Tests.

Today the bunny with no batting pedigree scored more runs than the man with 8,130 runs.

Today two men batted: one with little expectation or hope, the other with fear and uncertainty. One made an unbeaten. The other hit the BBQ.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tom on July 12, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    "His days of glory as a heroic batsman are definitely over after the 2nd last ball of the 2nd Sri Lanka test!"

    @Greatest_game, how does that crow taste now?

  • David on July 11, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster commented "Hahaha... Anderson got owned !!! His days of glory are over."

    Come on Captain. Don't you know that he is "the most skillful bowler in the universe." Just ask David Saker! By the way, when were his bowling 'days of glory?' His ave is still over 30! His days of glory as a heroic batsman are definitely over after the 2nd last ball of the 2nd Sri Lanka test!

  • David on July 11, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    @ satchander comments "A very cruel assessment of Cook. The man with the most test centuries for Eng is class and is surely going to come back to form soon."

    Well if KP was on the field - he's not allowed because he's not "our kind of family" - I'm sure he would continue his record of having scored more runs, faster, at a higher average, than Alistair 'cant ride a bike' Cook. And he would overtake him in centuries scored!

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    English supporters , if you need more inspiration just look at some of us Indians projecting Rohit Sharma as the next big thing! Jokes apart , a batter of Cook's class can't fail for wrong. and with the gentle bowlers of India, he will surely turnaround before this series ends.

  • Samrat on July 11, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    I am reminded of Cook being compared to Bradman by Brendan McCullum (or was he compared to Brendan by Bradman!) not so long ago.

  • ian on July 11, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    @ ygkd on (July 10, 2014, 22:27 GMT): Ienjoyed that. It's obviously time to send England Batty.

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    I have said it once and will say it again. After the Indians and the Pakistanis, the Englishmen are the best at demoralizing their own players when they are going through a low period. We Indians ridiculed Ravindra Jadeja for so, so long, till he started maturing as a matchwinner.

  • Black on July 11, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    @SLT20WCS Good luck to you guys against SA! I hope you win. Let's see what India's bowlers do tomorrow!

  • Android on July 11, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    wow... excellent article this....first article in.the morning and this was very nice

  • Rue on July 11, 2014, 1:22 GMT

    Should players try and find form in Test matches? Lots of people said it was a good thing to go away to his farm after the Sri Lanka debacle and forget about cricket, i thought he should be playing county cricket and trying to find some form. Moeen played for Worcestershire and scored 80 odd. I know there are a lot of test matches coming up in a short time but players in form want to keep playing and those who arent need to play to find form. Cook and Prior needed to play, Prior keeps dropping catches he used to snaffle. Cook has to find form and I don't think its going to come gift wrapped in Test cricket. Does he get dropped or do we keep our fingers crossed that he eventually will score runs? maybe sacking his batting coach wasn't the right decision but lets face it Cook and ECB are experts at making bad decisions.

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