Sniff. Pass me those tissues Toby. Don’t you worry; it won’t just be me who requires them after today’s lessons learned. *Dabs at eyes.* For we’ve been honoured to witness a moving end to one of the finest test careers. Alastair Cook played his last innings for England EVER. No better way to bow out. Bravo Alastair and let’s hope I won’t screw up the 5 lessons learned. No notes today. Eyes on me please…

1) Fairytale Studies

When you wish upon a star, dreams really can come true. That was certainly the case at The Oval this week. With the international retirement of Cookie, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. He may have been Sleeping Beauty in this series thus far, but cometh the hour, cometh the princess. A first innings knock of 71 would have been adequate. But like Cinderella, a set of slippers completes the magic. Alastair Cook’s 147 in the second innings was special.

Every shot was met with a cheer from the expectant crowd. As Cook inched towards his thirty third England century, everything was crossed. All of a sudden, here was the Alastair of old. Not being tempted by Sharma’s ripe apples outside off stump, he left with the swagger of Hercules. We were treated to every shot from the fairytale page. Hooking with all the maliciousness of Pan’s foe. Cutting with the precision of Elsa’s ice castles. Driving transformed as the pumpkin turned into Cinder’s chariot. Most of all piercing the field, thrusting like Prince Philip’s sword into the side of Maleficent.

Alastair Cook is England’s greatest test batsman. Both statistically and emotionally. Nobody has a cruel word to say about the ex-choir boy, turned England opener, who was transformed into a rare player. A batsman who emitted patience and perseverance. One of a kind.

Cook has let it go. England are about to enter a whole new world without him.

2) Classical Music

As the BBC Proms drew to their dramatic conclusion this week, so too did the final test series of the summer. Both ended with a resounding rendition of Jerusalem, for England triumphed over the visiting Indian side. God save the Queen and God save Sam Curran, who was named player of the series. At times the blonde quiffed Surrey lad, has been tasked with soloing alone; twice he saved England at 86-6. Without his half centuries, it’s likely India would have won at Edgbaston and The Ageas Bowl. A remarkable series for the young Mozart.

Blaring his trumpet loud and clear at The Oval was skipper Joe Root. After emitting low squeaking sounds all series, finally Root found his rhythm. His first tonne in thirteen months. Let’s hope batting at four, brings back his Louis Armstrong like performances, prior to taking on the captaincy. He’s certainly learnt coming in at three is akin to snapping a violin string. Painful and expensive.

Elsewhere in this symphony of a series, James Anderson grows sweeter and sweeter on the ears. The satisfying crunch that signalled Bumrah’s middle stump being broken, was like a Beethoven piano note. 564 test victims for the Burney Express. Overtaking Glenn McGrath he is officially the greatest test paceman of all time. With 24 Indian scalps at an average of 18.12, age is no barrier to a conductor who has perfected the art of swinging the ball in perfect time.

Handel’s epic saga ‘The Messiah?’ That ain’t about JC fellows, it’s about JA.

3) Circus Skills

Mind you class, amidst this fairytale there is a note of warning. For at times this series, England have played like a bunch of clowns. Some of the batting was laughable. Keaton Jennings has fallen flat on his face. Averaging less than 20, the Tin Man opener is still rusty. It’s as though he’s wearing shoes which are four sizes too large. Clown shoes. In fact his last three dismissals left him with splattered pie on his face. For he played no shot to any of them. At The Oval it was his at best optimistic, at worst brainless shouldering of arms, which had the crowd groaning.

Jonny Bairstow too is walking a wobbly tightrope. After positive half centuries at Edgbaston and Lord’s Jonny’s form has deteriorated. Three ducks. A fractured finger which saw the gloves pass to Buttler, whilst Bairstow sulked. Even shaving off his beard, revealed nothing, except a panicked expression. It appears England are sidling the gloves towards Jos. If that becomes the case, then Bairstow must focus on his batting. Otherwise he’ll be out of the big top, quicker than you can say ‘Abracadabra!’

Throwing a Rashid juggling ball into the mix didn’t work. Yes, Adil will be useful on turning pitches abroad but based on these tests, Moeen Ali should be the front line spinner. Although it appears Mo would rather be shot from a cannon than shoulder that responsibility. England are in a mess because they are too ‘nice’ with players. Part of the reason why collapses occur is because the batting line up is not consistent. If Bayliss and Root want to post over 400 in foreign conditions, then they must have the final say on that line up. Not the individual players.

Otherwise the circus will turn into, well…

4) Physics

What occurs when two immovable objects meet class? Forget what you’ve heard before; these 5 lessons learned are the truth. Naturally one will break. In this example, the object which ends up sliding into the abyss is India. For they were beaten 4-1. In reality not a humiliation, yet upon arriving in this pleasant land, Ravi Shastri claimed they were here to ‘win in all conditions.’

Alas, like apples falling from above, they have come crashing to earth with a splatter. Batting wise, only Virat Kohli can feel certain of his position. Which is just as well, for some of his captaincy decisions were woeful. Does he know how to use DRS? It’s debateable. You’d even trust Broad ahead of Virat. As for the others? Pujara, Rahul and Pant managed a century, yet it was at The Oval which saw the latter two hit the milestone. Far too late.

Mind you Pants, um pants, were certainly on fire as he blistered to three figures. There’s one for the future; bringing the magic total up with a glorious 6. Like England though, Team India have a faulty opening circuit. Up until the last test, Rahul averaged a mere 14. Shikhar Dhawan, even less. Murali Vijay has disappeared off to Essex for the remainder of the summer. Debutant Vihari showed grit and determination, putting on a stand with Jadeja in the first innings

Where India soared was in their pace attack. Possibly the most devastating weapons they’ve ever wielded. Led by Jasprit Bumrah, they bowled with aggression and venom. Ishant Sharma finishing with 18 wickets at 24.28 apiece. With a visit Down Under later on this year, there’s every chance India can out bowl the Aussies.

As for this series, India helped contribute to a wondrous finale, which not even science can explain.

5) Health & Safety

Finally class an important health and safety announcement.


Inextinguishable it roars with all the ferocity of a bush fire. You’ll suffer Burns if you pass close by, for Rory has smacked yet another county champ century. No slip hazard here. Surrey are almost the 2018 County Champions. And boy don’t they deserve it.

Foakes the Phoenix soars ever higher. Pope sprinkles down blessings on the Surrey faithful. Stoneman finally lives up to his name. Clarke polishes off opposing batters shoes. The Currans are the new flavour in town. Morne has fans crying out for Mor(kel). Whilst Virdi has come of age in his first season.

As long as Surrey do not lose at Worcestershire they’ll have their hands on the trophy. Don’t think they’ll need to wash them after either, as this side could hold it aloft for many seasons to come.

That’s it class. Probably the last lessons learned in which England will feature. Certainly the last in which the words Alastair, Cook and England will occur. Homework is to invent a cure for a grown man crying every time he sees a photo of Cook. Impossible? I hope not. Not get out, whilst I finish these tissues down the pub. Class dismissed!