Monday, 21 July 2014

Resign Alastair and become one of the greats

SOMETHING strange happened yesterday evening, I felt sorry for Alastair Cook.

Strange in the sense I have been a huge critic of the England captain since he emerged from the 5-0 Ashes whitewash not only stronger but seemingly in an unsackable position.

I despise the way he engineered Kevin Pietersen's forced retirement from the England team and his inability to take criticism, especially the 'something needs to be done' comment about Shane Warne.

However, looking at the broken man who trudged off Lords yesterday evening having again been exposed outside his off stump, I felt sorry for him.

Now he wouldn't want sympathy, no cricketer would, he just wants to rediscover the magic, hit a blisteringly huge hundred and lead England to victory.

But looking at Cook, I wonder whether he is destined to join the likes of Gower and Botham as great England players but average captains.

Captaincy does not sit well with some cricketers but does others and does lead to a slump in form however Cook is not out of form he is technically exposed.

Some have suggested a sabbatical from the England team while he goes back and gets runs for Essex and then returns as captain and opening batsman.

It just won't work for a number of reasons, primarily because Cook is not out of form he has a technical fault with his game.

But also the England captaincy cannot be done on a caretaker basis, if England are to succeed they need a regular full time captain – look at the mess when Vaughan was out injured.

Quite simply, England need Alastair Cook the opening batsman more than Alastair Cook the captain.

Cook has not become a bad player overnight just burdened by the captaincy and, I believe, the impending Pietersen book which reveals what really happened in Australia.

If England do go on to lose the second test today, Cook should be prepared to stand down as captain.

Free from the burden and attention I believe he is strong enough to come back from this slump and certainly get the 739 more needed for another record – England's highest run scorer in tests.

Cook is only 29 so should he rediscover the magic he could also be the first Englishman to 10,000 runs in tests.

Already the leading century maker for his country, Cook should sacrifice the captaincy in the pursuit of those records.

Some may say that is selfish, but every good 'Chef' knows when to change the recipe to make the dish better.

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