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
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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

  • 2MikeGattings 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?

  • Greatest_Game 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!

  • Greatest_Game 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!

  • 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.

  • mrmonty 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.

  • Nutcutlet 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.

  • 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.

  • ThePacifist10 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!

  • on July 11, 2014, 1:42 GMT

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

  • ruester 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.

  • 2MikeGattings 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?

  • Greatest_Game 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!

  • Greatest_Game 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!

  • 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.

  • mrmonty 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.

  • Nutcutlet 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.

  • 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.

  • ThePacifist10 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!

  • on July 11, 2014, 1:42 GMT

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

  • ruester 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.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 10, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    Hahaha... Anderson got owned !!! His days of glory are over.

  • satchander on July 10, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    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. You English don't have any patience. Look at India - how they keep pestering with Ishant/Rohit sharma/Ashwin even when they don't perform for 1-3 years. I have no doubts that Ishant/Rohit/Ashwin are NOT in the same class as Cook and should be dropped. But Cook is fantastic and I hope he finds form but only after the current series. Because if he finds form now, no body can save India (An Indian fan)

  • supercricketfan on July 10, 2014, 22:51 GMT

    Good article loved the part of the boy driving the bike

  • ygkd on July 10, 2014, 22:27 GMT

    Interesting Test series. A few things come to mind. Cootchey, cootchey Coo-k: Cook has boyish charm galore but do captains need some mongrel? Prior Opportunities: How many will he get? Jimmy c-Ando: Will he finish his glorious career as he started, as Jimmy Can't-do? Broad's Shoulders: Are they broad enough to be an attack leader? Plonk-it? On a line, but which line? The Bearded One: Has he the grace of a Swann in the air? On Ballance: Is Gary just a good one day player? Bell: Will Ian move down a note? Root: If conditions aren't right, will the rot set in? Diff'rent Stokes: Would his ratings be better if he had been broadcast in New Zealand? Sam-'Son: Fine, but what happened to Denis' grandson, Nick?

  • screamingeagle on July 10, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Ans may he hit the BBQ more often this series. :D

  • maamu on July 10, 2014, 21:05 GMT

    Weren't the English press going giddy about Cook being the one to break the 50 centuries record? Where are they now? This guy has no chance of doing it.

    He'll get out of this rut but is not good enough to become a great

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  • maamu on July 10, 2014, 21:05 GMT

    Weren't the English press going giddy about Cook being the one to break the 50 centuries record? Where are they now? This guy has no chance of doing it.

    He'll get out of this rut but is not good enough to become a great

  • screamingeagle on July 10, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Ans may he hit the BBQ more often this series. :D

  • ygkd on July 10, 2014, 22:27 GMT

    Interesting Test series. A few things come to mind. Cootchey, cootchey Coo-k: Cook has boyish charm galore but do captains need some mongrel? Prior Opportunities: How many will he get? Jimmy c-Ando: Will he finish his glorious career as he started, as Jimmy Can't-do? Broad's Shoulders: Are they broad enough to be an attack leader? Plonk-it? On a line, but which line? The Bearded One: Has he the grace of a Swann in the air? On Ballance: Is Gary just a good one day player? Bell: Will Ian move down a note? Root: If conditions aren't right, will the rot set in? Diff'rent Stokes: Would his ratings be better if he had been broadcast in New Zealand? Sam-'Son: Fine, but what happened to Denis' grandson, Nick?

  • supercricketfan on July 10, 2014, 22:51 GMT

    Good article loved the part of the boy driving the bike

  • satchander on July 10, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    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. You English don't have any patience. Look at India - how they keep pestering with Ishant/Rohit sharma/Ashwin even when they don't perform for 1-3 years. I have no doubts that Ishant/Rohit/Ashwin are NOT in the same class as Cook and should be dropped. But Cook is fantastic and I hope he finds form but only after the current series. Because if he finds form now, no body can save India (An Indian fan)

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 10, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    Hahaha... Anderson got owned !!! His days of glory are over.

  • ruester 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.

  • on July 11, 2014, 1:42 GMT

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

  • ThePacifist10 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!

  • 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.