Saturday, 27 February 2021
Sir Alistair Cook
Phyllis Court Club
ANOTHER capacity Henley Literary Festival audience welcomed Alistair Cook to Phyllis Court Club on Sunday morning.
England’s most capped cricketer with 257 appearances across all three formats of the game, he has scored more test match runs (12,472) and captained his country in more matches (125) than any other.
Only four other batsmen have scored more test match runs.
Not quite so well known is the fact that he is an accomplished pianist, clarinettist and saxophonist and “sings like an angel”.
Known as “Chef” in the England dressing room because of his culinary skills, Alistair appears to be one of life’s consummate all-rounders.
His closest friend in the England team, James Anderson, he describes as a medium-pacer whilst Jimmy’s retort is to say that Alistair is the most boring batsman he has ever seen!
Having scored a century on his test debut, Alistair concluded his international career with another century, taking his total to 33, and he rates his 235 not out against Australia in Brisbane in 2010 as his best contribution to an England result — not a win, but a drawn game against the odds.
Asked for his thoughts on the best cricket umpire currently standing, he unhesitatingly nominated the South African, Marais Erasmus.
Cook’s book The Autobiography is a compelling read and explains why at the age of 33 he retired from international cricket.
He recounts the fall-out with Kevin Pietersen and the many ruthless decisions a captain has to make. (He once rested James Anderson from one game and then didn’t select him for the next. Anderson concluded that he had been dropped and the two friends didn’t speak to each other for four days.)
There will be a plethora of sporting books on the market in the lead-up to Christmas, but this will delight any cricket fan.
Alistair’s retirement has allowed him to spend more time with his wife and three young children and to give more time to his family farm. (He recently
de-wormed 300 sheep.)
Where to next I wonder? At the age of 34, Cook is in no hurry to make decisions, simply because he doesn’t have to, but if he isn’t found a job in the top echelons of cricket, we will be the losers.
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