This, that and the other. Mostly the other
The media were greatly impressed by Alastair Cook's batting during the recent one-day series against Sri Lanka. At first, his team-mates were too, but over time the changes in Cook started to rub people up the wrong way.
I interviewed a few of the players about what has happened to their new one-day captain over the last few weeks. Understandably, given what follows, none wished to be named.
Player A described how Cook had developed a taste for proving people wrong.
"It started with that comment of Mike Atherton's, where he accused Cook of being a plodder. He came up to me after he'd read that and said: 'Listen, Broady, I'm going to make Athers eat his words. Just watch me.' At the time, I was quietly impressed with his resolve."
As we all know, Cook did indeed prove that he was a more expansive batsman than hitherto suspected, and maybe if it had ended there, all would have been okay. But it didn't. Player A continues the story.
"It was like he had to prove people wrong all the time. He started taking real delight in it. One time, me and Belly were chatting about the Tour de France, and we were disagreeing about how you pronounced 'maillot jaune' and Cooky couldn't help but stick his oar in."
Player B takes up the story.
"Cooky went and got some French bloke and brought him into the changing rooms and asked him to talk about the Tour. Every time he said 'maillot jaune', Cooky pointed at the guy and made faces at me and Broady like we were thick of something. It was pretty annoying."
Player C also suffered.
"Every time we opened the batting together, he'd start asking me questions. It was always geography stuff like 'What's the capital of Burkina Faso?' and he'd just go on and on at me. After the match, whether we'd won or lost, he'd come up to my hotel room with an atlas and go through the answers. He was really mean about it. He'd say: 'The capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou, you idiot. Don't they teach you stuff like that in Johannesburg schools, Craig?' He made me feel really small. It was really nasty."
Player D describes just how far Cook went.
"By the time we got to Manchester, he'd invented this superhero persona called The Disprover. He even got a cape made, with a massive D on it. He'd wear it to breakfast where he'd start tossing a coin. One of us had to have heads and another tails. Whoever was wrong, he'd get right in their face and say: "You were wrong. I proved you wrong. I am the Disprover. Feel my wrath." And then he'd pinch them on the arm. It was really, really irritating."
Is Player D worried that this might go further?
"Oh yeah, definitely. I'm pretty sure he's getting a whole Disprover outfit made, and I saw him ordering a pop music quiz book on the internet the other day. I think he's got something planned for Straussy in the Test series. Mark my words, this'll end badly or my name isn't Graeme Swann."
Player E interjected at this point.
"He'll prove you wrong on that one as well, Swanny."
Player E then added: "I'm Jonathan Trott," for no reason that I could discern.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
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