Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

The Ashes: Slick Cook turns up heat after Pietersen goes off the boil

it is bound to happen — in cricket teams, as in offices and on what used to be factory floors — that some colleagues rub along better than others.

Presumably, it happens in city trading rooms, if anybody gets on with anybody there, before going for the jugular.

Jimmy Anderson and Alastair Cook are mates in a team where everybody is getting along really, really well, thank you. They occasionally play darts together and there is no clearer sign of friendship than that.

Maybe it is important to consider this when reflecting on Anderson's comments after the close of play on the second day of the second Test.

Jimmy's mate Alastair had scored another half century to add to the bundle of runs he had already compiled in this Test series, whereas the side's highest profile and biggest personality batsman, Kevin Pietersen, had caused his own downfall with a usual but unwarranted dramatic flourish.

Whether it was friendship, or being aghast at Kevin's latest mode of dismissal — taking on a short ball three overs from the end of the day with all the intent of a Saturday night street fighter — or simple overstatement, Anderson said: “He's got 600, 650 runs in the series — so it's pretty obvious he's talented,” Anderson said of Cook. “He's probably more talented than a KP. KP is so naturally gifted with the shots he's got — and Cookie's not got that. He relies on the shots that he has got, and his mental toughness to get him through. He's shown how talented he is this trip. He's been fantastic.”

What Anderson was really saying was what Andy Flower, England's coach, has been demonstrating though his assessments.

It takes all sorts to make a cricket team and what Cook has offered at number two in this series has been more valuable than what Pietersen has provided at number four. Pietersen, apart from his supreme innings in Adelaide, has flattered to deceive on many occasions.

“Considering people were questioning his spot during the summer, I think he's shown exactly what a player he is,” said Anderson. “He's got huge character, huge talent — and there were no doubts in our dressing room that he was going to perform.”

As for the Kookaburra, named after the laughing bird, Cook might not have made it laugh, but it has certainly talked. “I knew what had been said before I came away, but it didn't bother me,” he said. “I'm happy that I've made such meaningful contributions towards the successful tour so far.”

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