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The Autobiography By Alastair Cook With Michael Calvin

Release date: 05th September, 2019
Publisher: Michael Joseph

List Price: 20.00
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Following England at any mainstream sport requires great quantities of blind optimism and often unrealistic hope, coupled with a willingness to accept disappointment, especially when matters appear to be going well.

Take cricket, for instance. England’s World Cup winners of a couple months ago were reduced to Ashes misery by early September. And while the likes of Ben Stokes and Jack Leach performed admirably (and commendations are due to several others), how England missed a tough, Test-hardened batsman of Alastair Cook’s calibre.

Cook may have retained cherubic features befitting an ex-St Paul’s Cathedral chorister, but thanks to the skill of veteran sports writer Michael Calvin, The Autobiography reveals Cook as a teak-tough, mentally powerful competitor who could not abide team-mates who lacked similar levels of courage and resolution.

In addition to his forbearance, Cook was blessed with a special talent which ultimately saw him become England’s highest-scoring batsman. He claims that none of his 12,472 Test cricket runs were a ‘gimmee’. “I had to dig bloody deep, work bloody hard for every single run I scored down the years,” he says.

To say Cook was driven is an understatement, but he was constantly tormented by an imaginary inner voice he calls ‘The Gimp’ which berated him for losing or failing to live up to the highest standards – although not always on the field of play where he rarely ‘walked’. Retirement must have come as a relief because, as he told his wife before quitting: “I’ve lost what makes me different from everyone else.”

The Autobiography offers a brutally honest insight into professional sport at the highest level. Cook describes England’s dressing room as “a ruthless place, in which the preoccupation of highly motivated individuals is survival…Like it or not, sport at the highest level is not a friendly environment.”

Many sports fans reading that will suspect it’s currently a good description of Australia’s dressing room, but not necessarily an accurate portrayal of the one occupied by England, which perhaps explains why even the heaviest investment of hope and optimism rarely yield much in the way of tangible reward.


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