When I went to bed last night, I didn’t have a favorite cricketer. This is the story of how that all changed.
My favorite current, active, Test cricketers are as follows (list more than likely incomplete):
Michael Clarke, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ed Cowan, Virat Kohli, and Kumar Sangkkara.
My favorite cricketer of all time (not active) is probably Rahul Dravid.
(Yes, I know, not a single bowler in the lot. Embarrassing. I don’t understand it either, but I guess my taste for bowling is just not as refined as I would like it to be. Lasith Malinga is fun to watch, and might make the list in a parallel universe, but he doesn’t play Tests anymore, and really there is a club for people who call Lasith Malinga their favorite bowler…it’s called EVERYONE. I am not just talking about cricket fans either, but everyone on earth’s favorite bowler is Lasith Malinga.)
(And, yes, I know that the list of cricketers above is the list of everyone’s favorite crickets: young, stylish batsmen who, with the exception of Cowan, score a million runs and with the exception of both of them, do it with PIZAZZ.)
Of the listed cricketers, Alastair Cook has always held a special place in my heart. I always kind of knew that.
I don’t really know why, either.
I am not an England fan (though I do support them during the Ashes), he is boring, he comes off as uppity (like his “shit don’t stink” as the kids say), he is not an especially good fielder, he looks like a cartoon character, and his captaincy skills are not beyond suspect.
But, still, something about him just makes me want to watch him bat, for hours and hours and hours. And I love how, in his first series as a non-interim Test captain, he has stood up and guided his team through the tall grass of sub-continental spin. I love a good old fashioned captain’s innings.
Leading from the front, leading by example, pulling his team across the line.
I was so upset this morning to wake up and see he had missed his double century after being run out while backing up. That gut punch kind of upset you get when your team loses a big game. That blackness that sits on your shoulders all day long. You know what I am talking about.
And that’s when it dawned on me: Alastair Cook is my favorite cricketer.
That’s a more meaningful declaration than you think. To wit:
For me, cricket has always been a game of individuals. More golf or tennis than football or basketball. I don’t have a proper team to support. Despite all of my best efforts, nothing seems to stick*. But that does not mean I take any less enjoyment from watching the games.
I had no dog in the Australia v South Africa hunt, for instance, but I still enjoyed every single second. And despite the fact that Cook plays for England, the neutral in me wants to see India come storming back on day four and win the match and take the series to the fourth and deciding Test.
I may not get to enjoy the communal aspect of having a favorite team win a big match, but I do get to see my favorite cricketers the world over put in fantastic performance after fantastic performance. And I guess of all those cricketers, Alastair Cook is my favorite.
Plus it is fun to say out loud: Alastair Cook.
Try it: Alastair Cook.
Alastair Cook, Alastair Cook, Alastair Cook
*I will say, that after more than five years of trying, it is starting to stick with Sussex. Just a little stickiness, like a day-old post-it note, but it’s there….