As we draw closer to the end of the year, Alastair Cook can relax, safe in the knowledge that he has held himself together with dignity, and he has given what was presented to him with his best shot.
Nobody likes getting sacked.
He persevered, and did not give up. The cold plain hard facts however, are that he was just not that good at the format. He was being picked as a captain, and not as a batsman, and he was certainly no Mike Brearely.
Instead of dwelling upon his sacking over Christmas, he can perhaps instead reflect upon the phenomenal achievement of scoring the most Test runs of the 2010’s.
He has outscored Kumar Sangakkara, Hashim Amla, Ab De Villiers, and many others. It has barely even been registered.
It is undeniable that England’s Test captain and leading century scorer has had a torrid time in the last 12 months for a number of reasons, but he can ultimately hold his head with dignity.
He hasn’t blamed others. He hasn’t complained. He hasn’t made excuses.
However, he has had to be a lapdog. He has had to be a yes man. He has ultimately had to deal with the fallout of a five nil Ashes whitewash, a coach and management changeover, and the departure of Kevin Pietersen this year (in addition to impact of the autobiography.)
You need a strong leader to handle these things, one that isn’t going to boil over.
It has been a tough ask, but ultimately Cook was too timid. He is a captain that was chosen specifically because he was seen as someone that could be swayed.
He was not firm enough with regards to dealing with these crises, nor was he a overtly strong on field captain, to compensate for his weakness in handling external situations.
It would have been a tough ask for Michael Vaughan, or Andrew Strauss, so rest assured, it was a tough ask for Cook.
On and off the field, he has been subject to change and turbulence that would prevent any cricketer from excelling. Admittedly, some of this turbulence is self inflicted, perhaps due to technical issues whilst batting that has seeped into his mindset. Nevertheless, the captain needs to lead in more than one regard.
Ricky Ponting was not the greatest tactician, but sure as hell he could bat in a One Day game.
When Cook first took over the captaincy, his ineptitude as a ODI skipper was covered up in part by strong form. Less questions were asked because less questions needed to be asked.
Since 2010, he has the most Test runs (4769 runs) including 15 hundreds and 18 fifties, in less than 60 Tests. He deserves some credit for that, in addition to the tidal wave of comment about his sacking. He deserves to be acknowledged for the positives that he has contributed.
As the New Year comes in, Alastair Cook will be popping a bottle of champaign open, because for the first time in ages, there is not going to be any controversy,
There are no disruptions in terms of personnel, and he is no longer in charge of the ODI side; which will be a welcome relief. He won’t have the pressure of proving himself in something he is uncomfortable in, nor to prepare for the world cup.
With the next England test months away, he can in effect, take a break. He can get himself right.
He can finally get back to doing what he does best.
Scoring a lot of runs for England in whites.
The cricket world wants Alastair Cook back to his best.