Stephen King’s novels have the ability to send a shudder down your spine even if you’re devouring it in a crowded library. My favourite is Misery.
The publisher’s synopsis of the masterpiece is as follows:
Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.
Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.
The book is a gripping read. When Paul toes the line drawn by Annie, he’s spared. When he deviates, she reminds him that ‘excruciating’ is but a mild word. Paul tries his best to keep Annie happy, for that ensures he receives his timely dose of Novril — a painkiller — for the broken legs; but he doesn’t always succeed. Nonetheless, Novril numbs him to the pain, to the impending suffering. Novril keeps him afloat.
Watching Alastair Cook’s travails (he was dismissed for 11 and 13 in the two innings of the Test) in West Indies led me to draw parallels with Paul Sheldon. Like Paul, Cook has nothing under control. He’s debilitated due to lack of runs, has no idea what his next moment is going to look like in English flannels and has an axe waiting to sway by his head (like Annie looks to pound Paul’s leg for the slightest misdemeanour). Unless Cook can score runs at Paul’s rate of churning words to appease Annie, he will soon be at the receiving end of an incomparable wrath.
It’s the success of the likes of Ian Bell, Ben Stokes, Joe Root and James Anderson that presently act as Cook’s recurring shots of Novril. West Indies’ lack of formidability is his stash, but Cook knows it will only briefly buy him time. He can only escape from the grip and leave behind his tormentors by manufacturing runs. And quickly.
The tour of West Indies is an opportunity for Cook, like Annie Wilkes’s occasional flits that allowed Paul Sheldon a chance to hatch his way to freedom. But Can Cook do it?