Sam’s gone and now Cook retires.

Today (weather permitting) will see a great sportsman applauded on and off the pitch at the Oval when England face India in the fifth and final test of the series. I remember Alastair Cook being plucked from the relative obscurity of an ECB Academy tour of the West Indies in February 2006 to fly out (or around, or possibly over?) to India as a replacement for the injured Michael Vaughan & Marcus Trescothick. From his 60 in the first innings and century in the second he looked the part, he played in the second test on that tour but could not play in the the third due to illness (it was India after all), since then he has not missed a test match and his records are the stuff of legend.

You can read reports about the man and his stats elsewhere, but what I admire about him is the way he has shown dedication and concentration and brought sportsmanship to his role. He is not the most forceful, fluent or stylish of batsman but he became the very best Alastair Cook that he could be. Opening batsmen are up there with golfers and tennis players in my estimation of the hardest “jobs” in sport, whilst they have the support of the team they also feel they have let a team down if they fail (which they do with regularity). One slip, one mistake and that’s it. In most sports you can have another go, not as a batsman.

Over the past decade I have admired hugely two young men who have captained their countries with dignity, skill and diplomacy, not only captained but led by example and have rarely put a foot wrong. Both have retired from the international stage, one from the sport completely. Can you have heroes who are 30+ years younger than you? Of course you can if they are Cook and Sam Warburton. They have both used what talent they have been given, worked incredibly hard, put their bodies in harm’s way and missed out on normal life (whatever that may be) to make the most of their talents. Thank you both for your inspiration and service.

(Ironically only Cook has “Welsh” blood – his mother is from Swansea – whilst Sam’s parents are both English.)

When the time comes I hope wherever you are you will stand and applaud a true great as he takes his bow at The Oval.

I can’t think of a better excuse to play Roy Harper – enjoy.



The Monday Morning Quote #494

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

George Bernard Shaw.


The Monday Morning Quote #478

“I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship.

I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind”

George Bernard Shaw


impact is not easily measurable on short time scales

“There is currently pressure on academics to demonstrate the immediate impact of their research on society. It is perhaps worth reflecting that impact is not easily measurable on short time scales. Hawking’s was truly blue-sky research – and yet it has fascinated millions, attracting many into scientific careers. His academic legacy is not just the remarkable science he produced, but the generations of minds he shaped.”

Marika Taylor writing about Stephen Hawking in The Conversation



Roger Bannister RIP

I grew up listening to my parents talk of the legends that lit up the austerity of post-war Britain, two names that stood out because of the sheer magnitude of their achievements were Edmund Hillary and Roger Bannister. The latter died last weekend and is of course remembered for running the mile in less than four minutes. Instead of monetising the success, he retired from competitive athletics “to do something serious”, he had got what would have been called a proper job.

“Now that I am taking up a hospital appointment I shall have to give up international athletics. I shall not have sufficient time to put up a first-class performance. There would be little satisfaction for me in a second-rate performance, and it would be wrong to give one when representing my country.

He worked as a neurologist for the rest of his practicing life.

How times change.

Inspired by John Naughton

We can still admire his landmark run in May 1954.

Walter Becker RIP

I somehow managed to miss out on tickets for the forthcoming Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers gigs, they were on my musical bucket list and will have to remain there.

It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Walter Becker. The tributes will flow from those who are far more entitled to comment on the technical elements of the music that Steely Dan made. I just know their first four albums as the soundtrack of the years 1972-78 and that Reelin’ in the Years still makes me smile and want to dance. I remember the excitement that I felt when I managed to buy an import copy of the single at a wooden record shack in the Haymarket in Newcastle. I know I had it on the album but it was a great single, so when it played out it was finished, it didn’t merge into the next track – some of you will understand the feeling.

Had I realised that they were a “jazz” group it is doubtful I would have shown such interest or had such enjoyment. Thank goodness my ears were my only arbiters.

Richard Williams blog.

London Jazz News.

The Guardian

Once more:

The Monday Morning Quote #414

“If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z.

Work is x, play is y, and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

Albert Einstein.

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