Ahead of the start of England's Test summer, Barney Ronay in the Guardian muses on Alastair Cook's prolific county scoring, after giving up the captaincy, and wonders if he is set for a "Gooch-like late career surge". With Test cricket precariously placed and England's top order a mess, is it about time to give Cook the love he's due?
It has been said that Cook has built a great career out of only three shots. But this is unfair. He has at least four shots. The short-arm back cut. The flick off the pads. That pull shot, where suddenly he is brandishing the bat with a startling sense of freedom like a man expertly hurling the hotel mini-fridge out of his 17th-floor window. Best of all he has an excellent leave. Not a fancy, bat-twirling leave, more a pointed kind of stillness, the most English of shots in a country where silence, the refusal to engage or acknowledge, is often the most devastating weapon.
The point is that Cook embodies more than any player in world cricket, perhaps more than anyone to come, those other virtues: the difficult pleasures of the most achingly complex global sport devised, a stately physical art-form that is, for all its past glories, in decline.