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Alastair Cook’s dismissal shows one man’s milestone is another’s millstone | Mike Selvey

Without the artificial, statistical target of 10,000 Test runs England’s captain would have not played the shot he did at Chester-le-Street

Alastair Cook may have played a more abject shot in his Test career than the one that resulted in his first-innings dismissal on Friday, but it is hard to think of one off-hand. The Sri Lanka bowler Suranga Lakmal had decided to bowl round the wicket to the left-hander, and his second ball in such mode was short of a length and had a modicum of width. All of Cook’s cricket instinct and training is to ignore this, not quite short or wide enough to cut, but easy to let go, scratch the ground with his foot and get on with the next, no harm done. Instead, leaden-footed, he dangled his bat out so crookedly he could have washed his smalls and hung them to dry on it. The ball took the edge, Dimuth Karunaratne pounced on a sharp slip catch, and Cook was marching back to the dressing room.

When the innings began, he had required 20 runs to reach 10,000, uncharted territory for an England batsman and all but 11 of any who have played Test cricket. It would be a select club he was joining and for almost an hour he had chipped away, ones and twos and a pulled four. Now, five runs short of that milestone, he had played that shot, this man of infinite batting patience. Whatever induced him?

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