Hold The Back Page: 09/07/2011



Cook adds new ingredient again


Pity Alastair Cook.

He spends a lifetime dragging himself up to the required standard of international batting, finally solving the equation last Ashes winter. Then this summer, as one-day captain, Cook learns that this is not enough and he must transform himself anew. No room for "plodders at the top of the order", apparently. His 119 from 143 balls was unfairly decried as too slow, so in the next game he scored 95 not out from 75 and won the game. He will never be Virender Sehwag but the innings did suggest a flexibility to meet the task beyond what many suspected. Making and remaking himself in the service of the team; what more could you ask from an England captain?

No game of three halves in Qatar

After the tantaliser that the Qatar World Cup might have been played in three halves of 30 minutes, officials have confirmed that the outmoded two blocks of 45 minutes will prevail. As a symbol of the absurdity of the enterprise, it would have been perfect. It might just have improved England's chances, too. Another chance for Jordan Henderson and Fabrice Muamba to take on fluids to fuel their chasing after Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas, another chance for Stuart Pearce and assistant John Terry to get across to the players the importance of passion and pride. Perhaps this is why Sepp Blatter decided against it?

Hitman strikes to stay in public eye

Ricky Hatton clearly still has a sense of timing. In the week when David Haye lost his title of Britain's favourite boxer, Hatton knew he could regain the status which Haye took from him two summers ago. Even though Hatton's last fight, when he was picked up and put down by the Manny Pacquiao whirlwind, was in May 2009, he waited until Haye blew himself out before announcing his departure. Even if "The Hitman" put it more down to "sulking". Still, having returned to the public eye this week, he has ways of keeping himself there. Ricky Hatton Promotions will ensure an occasional presence on television. And, with the Gallagher brothers now back on tour, there is a vacancy as the nation's leading celebrity Manchester City supporter.

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