Former England cricket captain Sir Alastair Cook has written in his new book of how he spent the greatest years of his career mixing top-class sport with trips to his wife's family farm.
Alastair Cook’s autobiography — the rather prosaically-title Alastair Cook: The Autobiography — is published this week (Michael Joseph, £20) and The Times has got the serialisation rights.
At the weekend they ran an excerpt looking at his promotion to the national side’s captaincy and the sacking of Kevin Pietersen, an interesting read — though the most surprising line in it, by some way, is that Cook was ‘watching Homes Under the Hammer in T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops’ when he took the call offering him the top job in cricket.
Monday’s Times has a very different excerpt, however, with Cook talking about his love of the countryside. England’s record run-scorer in Test cricket discusses how much he’s enjoyed helping with the lambs at the family farm owned by the parents of his wife, Alice, and how he would ‘love to become a full-time farmer’.
That ambition sounds all the more likely to happen since his alternative retirement options — chiefly coaching and commentary — require, ‘an inordinate amount of time to be spent away from home and family. Since the countryside is such a draw, and I want to see my children grow up, I’m not sure how practical that would be.’
Cook also marvels at the capriciousness of life on the farm.
‘Nature, like international sport, can be simultaneously cruel and wonderful,’ he writes, before telling the story of a ewe struggling to give birth to a pair of lambs, one of whom had died in the womb.
‘Given the constricted space, I couldn’t untangle them. I was gutted, as no matter what I tried for the next hour or so I couldn’t help the other lamb.
‘According to the vet, there was nothing I could do, so I reluctantly went to bed around midnight fearing the worst. I left for training early next morning, and couldn’t believe it when Alice called to tell me the ewe had lambed naturally and she and the lamb were fine.’