Ashes flame no longer burning as brightly for Alastair Cook

England's Alastair Cook leaves the ground after being dismissed for another low score. (AP)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Ashes flame no longer burning as brightly for Alastair Cook

LONDON: Before this Ashes series started, Nathan Lyon made bold predictions about the current crop of Australians “ending the careers” of some English players and getting England captain Joe Root dropped. As the Baggy Greens close in on a series-clinching victory in the third Test, it appears the off-spinner’s pre-match fighting talk was more than prophetic. The soul-searching will undoubtedly have already begun within the England camp as they face the prospect of a third 5-0 whitewash in Australia in a little over a decade.
But contrary to Lyon’s suggestion, the player who should be looking hardest in the mirror is Alastair Cook. The England opener is on his first Ashes tour since relinquishing the burden and pressures of captaincy to Root, which should have given him the freedom to do what he does best: batting at length and piling on the runs. There is no doubting the former captain’s ability; he is the only English batsman to accrue more than 11,000 Test runs and his 766 runs in the 2010/11 Ashes at an average of 127 was instrumental in England winning the urn Down Under for the first time in a generation.
Instead, this time around Cook has managed just 83 runs in six innings. His latest showing at the WACA, in his 150th Test appearance for his country, was a paltry seven and a shaky 14. He has spent just shy of five hours at the crease to amass his 83 runs at an average of 13.83. Compare that with the 426 runs in just four innings of Australia’s Steve Smith and you have some idea of the shambolic series Cook has had on pitches perfect for batsmen.
There are visible technical frailties on show against this Australian attack too, but the truth is Cook’s form has been on the slide for some time now. Aside from his 243-run knock at Edgbaston in August against a weak West Indies side, he has scored just one century and three half-centuries in 27 innings.
This is not the form of a player who should be leading England’s batting attack in the pressure-cooker intensity of an Ashes series. Or any series for that matter. Root himself has had a poor time of it, but as captain will be forgiven his shortcomings. Cook no longer has that excuse to fall back on and he now looks a shadow of the run-machine he once was. Each time he steps up to the crease it is increasingly obvious the Australian team have his number.
By carrying on beyond this tour, Cook runs the risk of tarnishing his legacy. The idea of him going on too long for England is becoming more and more of a nightmarish reality. In an ideal world, Cook would have quit on his terms while he was ahead, on a high-note and as a legend of the game. Unfortunately, his end looks like arriving with a whimper at the hands of his greatest cricketing foes.


‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

Al-Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Musa (back right) joins (front left to right) Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Habsi and Mohammad Jahfali and (back left) Saleh Alweheemed ahead of this weekend’s 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 31 min 55 sec ago
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‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

  • 22 Formula E drivers will battle it out for glory this weekend
  • "I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports"

JEDDAH: They may be fierce rivals in the Saudi Pro League, but some of the biggest stars of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr football got together to tour the venue of one of the most anticipated motor racing events in Saudi history.
The players soaked up the atmosphere as they visited the home of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix.
This weekend the 2.495km track created within the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah will see 22 Formula E drivers battle it out for glory.
Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi said: “I’m totally amazed by what they have built here, the track, the grandstands, the hospitality, it’s incredible what they’ve created for the Formula E.  It’s epic.
“As a professional athlete I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports, this will be a fiercely fought contest which is sure to thrill the fans.”

 (Left to right) Al Hilal star players Alberto Botia, Abdullah Almaiouf, Mohammad Jahfali, Ali Al-Habsi and Carlos Eduardo visit the new Formula E track at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah. (Photo/Supplied)

The racing extravaganza will also be accompanied by fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions.
Three nights of music concerts will feature some of the biggest names in world. 
US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will wrap up the event after the race ends on Saturday with Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo and Amr Diab performing from Thursday.
Al Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Mussa said: “We’re all about entertaining fans and bringing people together, that’s what football and sport is all about. These three nights will be a spectacle like nothing we’ve seen before and I urge our fans to come and be part of history.”