'Strong' man Cook won't change his style
England's Ashes batting star Alastair Cook has insisted he will never change his laid-back approach to the game, with the Es+++ man claiming he came through a low period in his career by returning to his true self.
Cook returned from the Ashes to be handed the freedom of the City of London, thanks to 766 runs in the series at an average of 120, and he is currently riding the crest of a wave. Despite his exploits, he is not part of England's one-day squad and is spending time on his partner's farm. It is clearly a life Cook is content with, as he shuns the celebrity lifestyle and has no clue about the workings of social networks.
It is all a far cry from the autumn when Cook headed Down Under with his place in jeopardy and the Australians convinced they could target the Es+++ opener. But Cook silenced his doubters with three centuries in the series and insisted he succeeded on account of not taking a backward step.
"I haven't got to here by being soft, by being walked on," Cook told the Daily Mail. "Nobody walks over me, ever, and no-one will walk over me, ever. You don't get to the top in professional sport without being hard and tough, but I do that in my way. I don't shout or scream, but I am determined and I will push harder than 99 per cent of cricketers in training.
"That is as much my character as any other perception that people might have. I'm not some little soft touch. I will never take a backward step when batting, but I want to be respected as a nice guy, too. I don't think you have to be this macho man all the time, just because you play sport."
Cook revealed he was not fazed by the Australians' sledging tactics, insisting his focus was always on his batting.
"I never sledge. You can only ever lose. Even if you're on 150, if they get you out they have the last word. So what is the point? Why aggravate the bowler? Leave him alone. I went through a stage two years ago when I felt I had to be eye-balling them all the time, just to make my mark, but it wasn't me. I was forcing myself, it wasn't natural.
"Anyway, sledging isn't as clever as people think. Most of it is just high testosterone, rude and crude stuff, 'You're an idiot,' things like that. I'd work a ball off middle stump and the bowler might say, 'What do you think you're doing, miss that and you're out'.
"I'm sure if you got two guys together with enough wit and intelligence you might get these famous exchanges that you read about, but most of the time it's just, 'f*** off, you're s***'. There was no sledge on the tour that made me laugh, put it like that. Maybe years ago guys went out there with funny lines prepared, but in my experience it is just aggression."
Cook is aware that form can desert you very quickly, but he believes that he has improvement in him as a cricketer.
"I hope it has given me that bit of extra confidence," he said. "I still think I can get better. I don't believe Australia was a one-off, I don't believe I was in the zone. Things worked out for me on the tour and time at the crease flew, but I do not believe it was anything mystical that cannot be recaptured. There is no zone."
Re: 'Strong' man Cook won't change his style
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