Alastair Cook: How has retiring England great become a ‘beacon’ for cricket?

Alastair Cook: How has retiring England great become a ‘beacon’ for cricket?

Cook, 33, announced on Monday that this week’s final Test against India will be his last appearance for his country. The opening batsman has scored 12,254 runs and made 32 centuries in 160 Tests – all England records. “We should laud Alastair Cook as a person as well as a player,” Gooch said. “Forget his achievements, he is a super man, an icon in our sport and a beacon for his sport.” Gooch, one of Cook’s boyhood heroes and his former mentor, was one of many coaches, friends and former team-mates to pay tribute to the Essex batsman.

But, what are the factors that have made Cook a “icon” who will receive an emotional send-off at The Oval this week – and where do England go from here?

Cook the role model Gooch: “If you’re looking for a role model, if you’re looking for an icon in sport, let alone cricket, you couldn’t get a more upstanding person and lovely guy than Alastair Cook. He’s everything you want in a sportsperson.”

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan: “I’m delighted he’s playing this week because if there is one England cricketer that deserves a whole week about him, it’s Cook. He is not the person to go searching for that, he’ll probably be a bit embarrassed, but he deserves it.”

Former England captain Alec Stewart: “He’s almost flown under the radar in breaking all these records and he is the heartbeat of that team in such a quiet, unassuming way.”

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace: “He’s just such a fantastic bloke to have in your team. When he’s had tough periods and when he was under pressure as captain, everyone was saying: ‘We want him, we need him, he’s our man.’ It was genuine. He’s a caring bloke, he’s not selfish in any way and he has just run out of steam.”

Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann: “He is one of the nicest men alive. He has lasted so long because he does have a sunny disposition and a way of thinking that cricket is not life and death. He always put in 100% but would appreciate the other side of life.”

Former England coach Peter Moores: “To be England’s most successful batsman ever but still be humble and have time for everybody is a great thing.”

All-time leading Test run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar: “Alastair Cook has been one of the finest batsmen to have represented England and his conduct on-field and off it has been impeccable.”

Former England team-mate Paul Collingwood: “It was very evident straight away that he was an unflappable character. He looked cool, he was relaxed, and it was obvious he was going to take to international cricket like no-one else.”

Stewart: “There is a little bit of madness in opening the batting but he’s done it so well. He’s probably not the most naturally gifted cricketer but others have not his mental strength, and their natural talent hasn’t seen them through. The combination of talent and mental strength Cook has means he’s played such a long time and broken all the records he has.”

Moores: “A lot of his traits are the best of English people – he keeps his counsel, he gets stuck in, he’s tough, and he’s resolute under pressure.”

Gooch: “Often we see players who have physical talent – Alastair Cook is talented between the ears. He’s got a lot of skills with the bat and has enhanced those as his career has gone on but he’s very strong of mind. From the word go he had the ability to get the best out of himself, he knew exactly what he could and couldn’t do, and that’s a priceless skill. The mental side of his game never needed any coaching.”

Vaughan: “Cook has had to eke out every run through hard work and preparation. That’s why it’s remarkable he’s played for 12 years.” Cook retirement sad day for English cricket.

Former England coach and Essex team-mate Andy Flower: “From the start, he was great playing off his hips and had a brilliant pull shot to fast bowlers but it was his stubbornness, his determination, that really came through in his batting. You can’t coach that into someone, it comes from deep within, that hunger that great competitors have. He’ll want to beat you, whether it’s squash, table tennis or cricket.”

Collingwood: “Everyone doubts whether he’s got a good technique or not but never his steeliness, his resilience.”

Stewart: “He left nothing to chance, he worked hard and made sure he always topped the fitness tests.” Cook the man for all conditions Cook scored 18 of his 32 Test centuries abroad, including five in both Australia and India.

Gooch: “His performances in India in 2012-13, when he captained England to a 2-1 Test victory, stand out for me. It was an exhibition in how to play the turning ball. His runs in that series helped us beat India in their own conditions.”

Swann: “Without his runs, we wouldn’t have won that 2010-11 Ashes series quite as convincingly, if not at all.” Cook the last of a dying breed Ex-England spinner

Phil Tufnell: “I’m not sure we will see his like again. He is one of the old-school openers. But there is still room in a Test team of mine for an Alastair Cook.”

Gooch: “Apart from him and Jimmy Anderson, most of the current players have been brought up in the Twenty20 era. So Cook is a dying breed, that Test player who can occupy the crease and graft for his runs – it’s a priceless commodity. I’d like to think there’ll be someone else but I don’t see anyone on the horizon.”

Vaughan: “I hope the send-off Cook will get this week is a real lesson to everyone in cricket that if you play for a long time in Test cricket, that’s the send-off you get. If you’re a real legend – and Alastair Cook is – you get a week like this that you absolutely deserve.” But is he irreplaceable?

Gooch: “It will be very strange to see someone else walking out to open the batting for England in Test cricket.” Moores: “Maybe a completely new partnership will make it easier for somebody. It’s not always easy someone coming in with such a great record. It’s a fresh start and a chance for two new blokes to get in there and form a partnership that will hopefully be successful for the next few years.”

Collingwood: “They’re going to be difficult shoes to fill. Hopefully someone can put their hand up, come in and become a mainstay in the team.”

Farbrace: “There is a new selection group in place and it’ll be their job to make sure England have two good opening batsmen. When Cook finishes and we’re looking round at the experience you’re missing and the runs he scored, that is a massive hole for anybody to fill.”

Flower: “The game moves on and teams move on from great players. He will be missed, but there will be other hungry, strong, young Englishmen that will step in and step up. We all look forward to seeing that and Cook will look forward to seeing other young men developing themselves and challenging themselves in the international set-up.” And is he England’s greatest Test batsman?

Stewart: “If someone breaks his record of Test runs then they’ll be a very, very good player and it will take a long, long time to get there.”

Gooch: “He’s right up there. You could say there are more exciting and entertaining players to watch, but he would have to be ranked in the top two or three.”


Alastair Cook: England great to retire from international cricket after fifth Test

England won 24 of Alastair Cook’s 59 Tests as captainEngland’s highest Test run-scorer Alastair Cook will retire from international cricket after this week’s final Test against India.

The opener, 33, has scored 12,254 runs and made 32 centuries in 160 Tests – all England records. “There is nothing left in the tank,” said Cook, who captained his country in a record 59 Tests. The fifth Test of the series, in which England have an unassailable 3-1 lead, starts on Friday at The Oval. Cook is sixth on the all-time list of Test run-scorers and has made a record 11,627 runs as an opener. He added: “I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game.”

Cook had not scored a century in 27 innings. Calls for him to stand down were growing louder by the day. He may not have made it to three figures, but he received a standing ovation for playing what he claimed was the most pressurised innings of his career. England won the series and he remained as skipper. 263 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2015: If ever an innings defined Cook’s career, this is it. Showing all his fabled concentration and patience, Cook batted for almost 14 hours in the desert heat – the third longest Test innings in history. Only bad light prevented England from pulling off a remarkable victory.


How do you fit Ben Stokes back in the England team?

How do you fit Ben Stokes back in the England team?

From a purely cricketing point of view, England now has the dilemma of how to fit him back into the team after the success of Chris Woakes and Sam Curran. Here are the main options Drop Sam Curran (or Chris Woakes) It would be harsh on Curran just two games after a Man of the Match award, but as the least experienced the attack he is probably the most vulnerable. However, Trent Bridge is known as a venue that favours swing bowlers – James Anderson’s stats are outstanding at the ground – and that is Curran’s strength. His left-arm angle has also caused the India batsmen problems. This does, though, appear to be the likeliest route for Stokes’ inclusion. What of the last in, first out route? Chris Woakes was Stokes’ direct replacement at Lord’s. Nope. After a maiden Test century and four wickets, that won’t be happening with Woakes. No spinner gamble Adil Rashid had one of the quietest Tests of the all-time at Lord’s. Trent Bridge has the highest average for England spinners of all their home Test venues so there could be an argument whether they even need a spinner. There is rarely, however, a situation where five quicks do not feel like an overkill regardless of the venue. The luxury that England have – due to their number of all-rounders – is always being able to field a balanced attack, so it would seem counter-intuitive to move away from that.

Latest updates as Ben Stokes takes stand over alleged late-night brawlIt’s the era of the allrounder for England so how about playing them all? Trevor Bayliss has more than once said how he believes Stokes can be a Test No. 5 – and he played that role in Auckland earlier this year. This would entail leaving out Ollie Pope or Jos Buttler. Pope showed promise on his debut while Buttler was named vice-captain at the start of the series, so is clearly inked in as part of the side. Buttler’s omission would also mean a further reshuffle in the slips and leave out Pope would have Jonny Bairstow batting at No. 4 and keeping wicket. There is one way around that: give Buttler the gloves and leave Bairstow to be a specialist batsman. That, though, won’t be happening anytime soon. Something really radical Linked to the option of taking the gloves off Bairstow would be a significant shake-up of the batting order. Promote Bairstow to open – the position he holds in one-day cricket with such success – in place of Keaton Jennings who has yet to make a substantial score since his recall, albeit in some tricky batting conditions. That would, as with the previous option, allow Stokes to fit back into the middle while also retaining Pope and Buttler. However, opening in Test cricket is a much different prospect to the one-day game where the white Kookaburra barely moves. And there’s that wicketkeeping debate. Leave him out Just because Stokes is in the squad doesn’t mean he has to play. He has been through an emotionally draining period in court.

No doubt Stokes will think he’s ready to play, but sometimes for the sake of a player the decision has to be taken out of his hands. The flip side to that is that, with his court case looming, he did not lose an ounce of focus at Edgbaston in a matchwinning performance.


Nasir Jamshed banned for ten years on corruption charges

Nasir Jamshed banned for ten years on corruption charges

In a short verdict, the three-man tribunal ruled on Friday that apart from suspension from playing any level of cricket, a player found to be in breach of the anti-corruption code should also be ineligible from holding any management roles in Pakistan cricket for life. This is the second punishment for Jamshed in the last two years.

In December 2017, Jamshed was banned for a year by the PCB after an anti-corruption tribunal found him guilty of non-cooperation in the 2017 PSL spot-fixing case. Jamshed had been the third player to come under the PCB’s radar when they had begun investigations into corruption in early 2017 and had been arrested in the UK in February 2017. Jamshed’s one-year ban only ended earlier this year, in April, following which PCB charged him with seven violations of their anti-corruption code. Jamshed responded by rejecting the charges levelled against him, pushing the PCB to form a tribunal headed by retired judge Justice Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan, and including former cricketer Aaqib Javed and Supreme Court advocate Shahzaib Masood as members. Jamshed, according to the PCB, was the “linchpin” connecting several corruption cases. Considered a central figure in the corruption scandal, Jamshed faced charges of approaching and soliciting other players for fixing. The verdict today finally wrapped up the saga that arose from the spot-fixing scandal in the PSL in 2017. In separate proceedings, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in England is also involved in investigations emanating from the allegations of the spot-fixing case. Early in the case, the NCA had arrested – and subsequently released – Jamshed.

However, NCA reportedly hasn’t yet reached a conclusion in their investigation yet. The PCB, during proceedings, heard from an NCA official on Skype as one of the witnesses, but the agency didn’t offer any evidence against the player. At least one part of the evidence against Jamshed was a collection of WhatsApp voice recordings allegedly between Jamshed and others also implicated in the case; these recordings were also leaked to the media. The PCB prosecution, however, mainly acted on the testimonials in which they treated Jamshed as the axis who was enticing players into the fixing web. “PSL 2017’s fixing trial has concluded,” the PCB lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi said after the verdict. “There are a few cases you really don’t rejoice after winning; instead you feel sad about it because it ends with another career destroyed. It’s painful to see a player who didn’t have his conduct right and didn’t fulfil his responsibilities according to the anti-corruption code of conduct. Our stance from the first day as he was the linchpin and he is the one who recruited players.

“Our point was proved and accepted by the tribunal, and they found him guilty on multiple charges. Even if he returns after rehabilitation, he is not allowed to engage in any cricket management role and will be kept him away from cricket. We also suggested his name be added in a list of persons mentioned in anti-corruption lectures who are to be avoided by the players. So this all ends here.” Jamshed’s lawyer, Hasan Warraich, did not appear in front of the tribunal on Friday, and wasn’t available to speak to the media afterwards. It is not yet clear whether Jamshed intends to appeal the verdict. His wife, Samara Afzal, put out a statement on Twitter, bemoaning many “failings of the case”. She said she would accept Jamshed’s guilt if it was ruled as such in a British court of law, but if he was exonerated, she would “drag the PCB through every court in the UK if necessary to get justice”. Jamshed is the sixth Pakistan player to be punished in the wake of the PSL spot-fixing case in 2017 and received the heaviest punishment.

Previously, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Irfan and Shahzaib Hasan were all fined and banned on separate charges. Jamshed last played for Pakistan at the 2015 World Cup.


Latest updates as Ben Stokes takes stand over alleged late-night brawl

Latest updates as Ben Stokes takes stand over alleged late-night brawl

Stokes ‘looked to the sky and spoke to God’ before alleged brawl Cricket star Ben Stokes says he was looking up to the sky and speaking to ‘God’ before he was involved in a street brawl, a court has heard.

The 27-year-old all-rounder made the bizarre remark during cross-examination on the fifth day of his trial at Bristol crown court on Friday. Examining footage of Stokes talking to bouncer Andrew Cunningham, outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol from the night of the melee, Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis asked him who he was speaking to when he was looking up at the night sky and mouthing words. Stokes replied: “God?” But Stokes insisted that “all of his actions were in self-defence” and that he reacted the way he did because he was “fearing for his safety” The cricketer explained that he could not remember punching Ryan Ali, 28 or his friend Mr Hale, 27, and said he intervened because they had directed homophobic abuse at the two gay men but was unable to say what those words were.

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, suggested the reason he was having problems remembering exactly what happened that night was because he was “actually really very drunk”, which Stokes denied.

Ben Stokes “could have killed” someone, jury told, as allrounder begins is defence

Ben Stokes “could have killed” someone, jury told, as allrounder begins is defence

Ben Stokes has taken to the witness stand in Bristol Crown Court moments after the case against one of his co-defendants, Ryan Hale, was dismissed by the judge. Stokes, who is standing trial for affray alongside Ryan Ali, is expected to provide evidence for much of the rest of the day. He has so far told the jury that, on September 24, following England’s victory over West Indies in an ODI in Bristol, he enjoyed some beer in the dressing room at the ground before returning to the team hotel where he had dinner – and two or three pints of lager – with his partner, three team-mates and a couple of their partners. He also informed the court he had then gone to Mbargo nightclub in the city with several team-mates where he had “five or six” vodka and lemonades. From there, he went to the Pryzm nightclub for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour with a few other team-mates – including Alex Hales – where he had “more than one” vodka and lemonade. He and Hales then decided to return to Mbargo where two team-mates, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett, had remained.

Moments before Stokes went to the witness stand, the judge instructed the foreman of the jury to enter a not guilty verdict against co-defendant, Hale. While the judge acknowledged footage of Hale running towards the fray with a length of metal torn from a road sign, he said there was no evidence of him attempting to use it. Instead, when Hale next appears in CCTV footage, he is shown removing his shirt and placing it under the head of Ali who has, in the judge’s words, been “knocked senseless” moments earlier. “There is no case to answer against Ryan Hale,” Judge Blair said.

“Properly led, you couldn’t come to the conclusion he was using unlawful violence. There hasn’t been any evidence that he did so. I have come to the conclusion you couldn’t properly convict him of the charge of affray.” Earlier the jury was told Stokes “could have killed” someone on the night he was arrested in a statement provided by Hale to the police in September and read to the court on the fourth day of the trial. “He could have killed me,” Hale said when questioned by the police on September 29.

“The way he was acting in that video, he could have beat the living hell out of me. That’s quite shocking to think I’ve been put in that situation. “He was not acting in self-defence. I was in the army. I know what self-defence is. You can use reasonable force. If someone has a bottle, you can unarm them. I was the innocent bystander getting brutally assaulted for nothing. There’s no self-defence and he’s not defending anyone else.” Hale also alleged that he saw Alex Hales, who was not arrested and is not on trial, punching and kicking Ali during the fracas. Hale also provided background to events leading to the episode in Bristol in the early hours of September 25.

He claimed one of the men he met in Mbargo nightclub “put his hand on my nob” and later “pinched my arse.” He insisted there was no falling out between the men and all involved regarded the episode as “banter.” He said he had no recollection of breaking up a road sign and running back to the fray with a length of metal torn from it. The trial continues.


Ben Stokes: Full Video Footage of the Moment of Arrest

The moment Ben Stokes was arrested after his physically aggressive attack on two individuals, his first question to the cop arresting him was “Will there be social cameras around?”. Shows when he is being nicked, what the most worrying thing is at the forefront of his mind.

Watch the videos to see for yourself –

The moment of aggression –


A short version of the video recording courtesy of the BBC –


A Full long version of the video recording courtesy of the ITV News –

Ben Stokes said he was protecting gay couple in fight, court told

The cricketer Ben Stokes feared being violently attacked by two men carrying weapons as he intervened to protect a gay couple on the receiving end of homophobic abuse, a jury has heard.

The Durham and England player said in a statement read to Bristol crown court that he became involved in a violent street fight to stop his “gay friends” from being beaten up. The 27-year-old maintained in the statement that he only remained involved in the brawl, during which he knocked two men unconscious, because he believed he and others were in serious peril. The court was told Stokes had been on a night out with England teammates, including Alex Hales, in Bristol city centre last September, celebrating a victory over the West Indies in a one-day international match. Ben Stokes: Amateur footage shows alleged fight outside Bristol nightclub – video The former England vice-captain said he had consumed five vodka mixer drinks and two or three beers before he and Hales met gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor outside the Mbargo nightclub in the city shortly after 2am.

The prosecution earlier this week had alleged that Stokes had been mimicking the couple’s “flamboyant and exaggerated” mannerisms and walking style in a “derogatory manner”. But Stokes denied being homophobic in the statement, which was given to police on 20 November last year. On the contrary, Stokes said he became involved in an altercation with former serviceman Ryan Hale and firefighter Ryan Ali, friends since childhood, when he witnessed them abusing Barry and O’Connor. “As the group came to my attention, I heard some of what was being said,” he told police. “I recall that the language being used was homophobic in nature and was being directed at Kai and William by Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali. Ryan Ali arrives at Bristol crown court. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA “Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale were taller and broader than Kai and William. I noticed that they both had glass bottles in their hands. “What Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale were saying was far from harmless banter, it was nasty homophobic abuse.” Stokes said he intervened and told Ali and Hale “leave it out – you shouldn’t be taking the piss because they’re gay”. He claimed Ali replied: “Shut the fuck up and fuck off or I’ll bottle you.” CCTV footage played to the court showed the unfolding of the fight, during which Stokes knocked out Hale and, later, Ali. Hales, who was interviewed under caution but not arrested, could also be seen kicking Ali repeatedly as he lay on the floor.

Stokes maintained he acted in self-defence throughout. “They were complete strangers,” the statement continued. “We knew that they were prepared to use weapons that could do serious injury and I feared they could have other weapons with them.” Ryan Hale, centre, arrives at Bristol crown court. “The force I used in defending us was reasonable and entirely justified when the circumstances are viewed objectively,” he said. Footage from a body camera worn by arresting officer PC Stacey Allway showed Stokes handcuffed in a police car. In the video, played to the jury, Stokes was told: “You’re being arrested because of the man in the red with the blood.” Stokes replied: “He was abusing my two friends for being gay.” He asked Allway to loosen the handcuffs, claiming he was in pain from a cricketing injury. Off-duty police officer Mark Spure told the jury he had immediately identified Stokes as the “main aggressor” when he happened upon the fight after leaving the Mbargo nightclub.

Asked by Nicholas Corsellis, for the prosecution, why he had chosen two particular men to try to get between, Spure told the jury: “One individual seemed to be the main aggressor, trying to get at another individual. In my statement I described him as having ginger or light brown hair with a green T-shirt on. The other man seemed to be trying to back away or move away from the situation.” He added: “While I was trying to stop the fighting, one man struck another with a clenched fist and he fell to the floor.” The trial continues.


Cricketer Ben Stokes ‘mocked gay couple’ before nightclub fight, jury hears

A jury of seven men and five women was shown footage which the prosecution said depicted the Durham and England cricket star mocking the couple, Kai Barry and William O’Connor, and flicking the stub of a lit cigarette towards O’Connor’s head. Stokes denies a charge of affray relating to a fight later in the evening which left another man with a broken left eye socket. The prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said that the incident, for which the firefighter Ryan Ali and the former serviceman Ryan Hale have also been charged with affray, was “not a moment of trivial unpleasantness, but a sustained episode of violence which left onlookers shocked”. Ali and Hale have also denied the charges. Bristol crown court heard on Monday that Stokes “lost his control” and acted way beyond the realms of self defence during a fight outside Mbargo nightclub in the early hours of Monday 25 September last year. Stokes had attended the nightclub together with the England captain Joe Root and teammates Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow after England’s ODI victory over the West Indies earlier in the day. Stokes and Hales left the nightclub at about 12.45am but returned to Mbargo at 2.08am.

The jury heard that they were refused entry and that Stokes attempted to bribe his way into the nightclub by offering the bouncer £60 and then £300. The jury heard that Stokes then insulted the doorman Andrew Cunningham, telling him: “Look at the state of your teeth” – in reference to his two gold front teeth – “They make you look like a cunt.” Stokes arrived at Bristol crown court just before 9am and was greeted by a throng of photographers. There were eight police officers guarding the gate as he exited a silver people carrier with blacked out windows in front of his wife, Clare Ratcliffe, with whom he has two young children, and his agent Neil Fairbrother. The all-rounder played a decisive role in England’s narrow Test victory over India at Edgbaston last week. The 27-year-old helped bowl England to a tense 31-run win, taking the key wicket of India’s star batsman Virat Kohli. Stokes celebrated his match-changing role at Edgbaston, which has been compared to some of the great pivotal moments in Test history, with a roar and a double fist pump in front of a 25,000 crowd. But by 10.30am on Monday, just three days later, the former England vice-captain sat glumly in the dock of courtroom number one. He changed his position from staring intently to sitting with crossed arms as the jury was told he had made a v-sign towards Cunningham after he was refused entry to the nightclub. Stokes, from Castle Eden, Durham; Ali, from Bristol; and Hale, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, are on bail. The case, which is expected to last up to seven days, continues.