I really hope England look to boss the game a bit more at Headingley than they did in the drawn first Test.
It was a tremendous finish at Lord’s but I’m sure England will have been reflecting on what might have been had they declared in the evening session on the fourth day.
You’ll never get a captain to say in hindsight that he should have declared earlier but I’m afraid it was all very English.
It’s our job as commentators to speculate on declarations but we all knew it wouldn’t come on the fourth evening.
Contrary to what social media is saying, the delay had absolutely nothing to do with Gary Ballance getting his hundred.
If Cook wanted to be really decisive, Ballance would have been told he had to get moving a lot earlier. Or else.
I know that Shane Warne felt very strongly that England should have declared with a lead of 360 rather than 390, which is still a hell of a lot to get in the fourth innings! If a team gets 360 to win – and no team has in the fourth innings of a Test, by the way – you’d just have to say ‘well played’.
But I’m afraid it’s not England’s way to dangle a carrot and take a risk. I thought it was all too predictable.
Alastair Cook is still making the headlines after saying he feels he takes too much criticism as England captain.
I don’ t think he should get preoccupied with that. In this game you will have critics; you either embrace them or keep your distance. That’s your choice.
Michael Atherton, who captained England in 50-odd Tests, says it just goes with the territory.
On one occasion he went and sought out Ian Chappell, who is always very opinionated, and had dinner with him and they’ve turned out to be the greatest of friends.
When I was England coach there were plenty of times when I felt ‘crikey, that’s unfair’ but it goes with the territory.
There are so many times when we, as commentators, say ‘that’s brilliant, that’s great’ that there are other times when we just have to do our job and call it as it is.
Cook shouldn’t take any criticism to heart because he’s done so many great things in the game; it’s just that sometimes you are going to get a bit of a slap.
The truth is we’ve all had one – JM Brearley, David Gower, Ian Chappell. You name them, they’ve all copped flak because in any position of sporting authority be it captain, manager or coach the world and his mate can do it better.
I’ve been a commentator for millions of years but everybody can do it better, apparently!
I’m not at all concerned by Cook’s batting form because he’s a great player and like all great players he’ll come out of it. Okay, he hasn’t scored a Test century for over a year but I’m not bothered half a per cent.
However, the one thing you can’t have as captain is hang-ups.
Ian Bell plays his 100th Test at Headingley and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a cracking lad with a star of a missus and they make a good pair.
Congratulations to him because he’s a terrific player who is marvellous to watch. He gets down to business in practice and in the middle with no messing about.
I think he’d be an excellent captain – and I say that having seen him captain. I thought ‘this lad’s got something’ and he’s very savvy.
Jonathan Trott is another top lad and I’m absolutely thrilled to see him back playing for Birmingham (Warwickshire) in the NatWest T20 Blast because I like to think I’m a bit of a mate.
I’ve been out with him a couple of times and he’s great fun; when you’ve been through what he has been, you can’t help but feel for the bloke and I wish him all the best for the next part of his career.
Everybody forms an opinion about sportsmen and women without knowing them and sometimes in our position as commentators we just have to keep quiet and nod, because it’s inappropriate to say anything else, but let me tell you, he’s a top bloke.
He’ll be frustrated that he can’t do the job he loves so I wish him well as he strives to get back to where he was. As it happens I know his wife too and she’s smashing as well.
Which reminds me, Vipers had her birthday this week and I got her a wonderful birthday present – a self-cleaning toilet brush!
She was quite surprised with that but my birthday card didn’t go down too well; apparently I should have put more than her name in it but as everybody knows, I’m a man of few words.
I took her out for a meal and, blow me, she wanted to go out again the night after! I took her out when decimalisation came in and I think that should be enough, really!
Watch England take on Sri Lanka in the second Test from 10.30am on Sky Sports 2.