In this Olympic year when there were so many champions that some have already been forgotten, we have also enjoyed the extraordinary feats of Rory McIlroy, Bradley Wiggins and Andy Murray beyond the Olympics in addition to the latter two's gold-medal achievements. To add to the list, I offer Alastair Cook, a very British sporting hero.
Cook comes from an "average" background: dad a BT engineer, mum a teacher. His exceptional twin talents changed that: first as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral School, and then as a music scholar and cricketer at Bedford, the type of independent school from which it is not fashionable for our heroes to emerge. There, his precocious cricketing abilities shone.
Now, at 27, he is the youngest cricketer to reach 7,000 test runs and holds the all-time England record for centuries. Subject to injury, he will be a fixture in our lives for the next decade during which he will break all batting records. England's captain is 6ft 2in tall, good-looking, articulate, phlegmatic and charming. He married his childhood sweetheart. What's not to like?
And yet… I sense there is something about him we find fatally uninteresting. Perhaps we perceive there has been no struggle, ignoring the years of musical and cricketing practice and discipline. Do we want him to "misspeak" or "misstep", smoke a joint or ride a pedalo drunk? Perhaps appear on a humiliating reality show? We prefer our heroes tarnished, lived-in. It makes them more... well, like you and me.
The problem here isn't the entirely admirable Alastair Cook. The problem, dear reader, is us!Reuse content