Hard to Love

I began writing here in 2006, just a few months after Alastair Cook came into the England team, and, in the first few years I was writing, I mentioned him a lot.

Over the last couple of years I haven't written about him so often, as for much of that time he's been battling a range of technical demons and his runs haven't been as plentiful or consistent as they were in his early days.

He's a player, and person, of contradictions. Still young, boyishly good-looking, often uncertain of manner, but with an old pro's patience, steely determination and hatred of getting out.

He can be hard to love, but when he plays like that it's not hard to see why his record's so good.

Tomorrow morning he and his partner, Jonathan Trott, can take the game right away from Australia.

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