India in England 2014

Shastri wants India to 'go for' Cook

Andrew McGlashan

July 1, 2014

Comments: 162 | Text size: A | A
'Cook should follow Tendulkar by giving up captaincy' - Shastri

Ravi Shastri has said that India should relish the difficult situation England find themselves in heading into the Investec series with their captain, Alastair Cook, under increasing pressure due to a combination of his poor form and further defeats for the team.

Cook has not scored a Test hundred for 24 innings and England will enter the five-match India series, which starts at Trent Bridge next Wednesday, on the back of a 1-0 loss to Sri Lanka. He has faced a barrage of criticism - not least from Shane Warne - and there is now a very vocal debate about whether he should continue as captain.

Shastri, never afraid to back India, wants the visitors to "go for" Cook at the earliest opportunity to try and prevent him gaining a foothold against a side he averages 55.26 when facing.

"If you have the leader under pressure always go for him. You need to get stuck in. You have to make the game as tough as you can," Shastri said at the series launch. "As an India player they will want this debate to continue."


Dhammika Prasad removed Alastair Cook in the morning's fourth over, England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 2nd day, June 21, 2014
The first part of the English season has only added to the pressure on Alastair Cook © Getty Images
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He drew comparisons with India's 1986 tour of England - where they secured the second of their three series victories in country - which began with David Gower under scrutiny as captain; he was then sacked after defeat in the opening Test at Lord's. "With David Gower, all we said was don't let him get runs in the first Test and let the pressure build. He lost the captaincy, India won the series," Shastri said.

He believes that England need to decide whether they want to make the most of Cook as a batsman, saying he "is not a natural captain".

"Cook is mentally very tough. He'll break all records for England," he said. "The question is do you want a captain in Cook who is not playing freely or do you want Cook playing freely as a batsman? That is what happened to Sachin Tendulkar. As captain he felt the pressure was getting to his batting and it was taken away."

Cook's team-mates remain convinced that the captaincy and his lack of runs do not go hand-in-hand although Stuart Broad acknowledged that when a player is struggling for form, light at the end of the tunnel can be difficult to see.

"I don't think the captaincy will cause him too much pressure over a long period of time," Broad said. "When you aren't scoring runs or taking wickets you expect a certain amount of flak, and that won't change until he scores a hundred. Cooky knows that. Winning Tests will help with his captaincy, but even if we are winning and he's not scoring hundreds he'll still be getting a certain amount of stick. He's honest. He's just a score away. But when you are in that hole it does seem a long way away."

When asked if he would be keen for the Test leadership - should the captaincy be taken away from Cook or he decided to give up the role - Broad was reticent and said it was a job better suited to a batsman.

"As a fast bowler I think captaincy is tough in the longer format. I think Test captaincy is more suited to batsmen who can admire the game, get a feel for game and I certainly think Cooky is the right man for the job now."

One of the main criticisms levelled at Cook during the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka was his use of Moeen Ali, especially on the fourth day as Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath extended their match-winning partnership. Despite removing Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne on the third evening, Moeen was not given a bowl at Herath - the No. 9 and another left hander - until the partnership was well established and Broad appeared to suggest more faith should be shown in the offspinner.

"I think Mo gets good revs on the ball and will gain a lot of confidence from the hundred [in England's second innings]. We have to throw him ball and let him go. He showed what he can do with the Sangakkara and Thirimanne wickets, that was Swann-like. He has a huge amount of talent.

"In the Sri Lanka series, the Lord's pitch had nothing in it for the spinner, so I can understand him not bowling many overs there but maybe he could have bowled more at Headingley. I think we'll see him bowl more and more during the summer."

Still, the onus will be on England's quicks to do the bulk of the work, which is likely to be an onerous task with five Tests spread over just seven weeks. There has been a suggestion that England's pacemen could be rotated but Broad, who has to manage his ongoing knee problem, prefers another option.

"It's the worst phonecall you can get, that you aren't playing the next game for England," he said. "If India score 400-500 each time the bowlers will be knackered so the ball is in our court. If we bowl them out cheaply we can keep playing."

All eyes, though, will still be on Cook.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (July 10, 2014, 22:01 GMT)

This is a slow bore-draw pitch. If the batsmen show patience, the life will be choked out of the game - averaging 5.5 wickets for 250 runs per day at the moment... It'd have to deteriorate sharply to get interesting, and even then the spin options aren't much. It's disappointing, because there's a fair bit of young talent out there in the batting lineups.

Also, while I understand ripping into the captain is an obvious tactic, but surely we're neglecting old fumble-fingers prior.

Posted by   on (July 10, 2014, 22:01 GMT)

This is a slow bore-draw pitch. If the batsmen show patience, the life will be choked out of the game - averaging 5.5 wickets for 250 runs per day at the moment... It'd have to deteriorate sharply to get interesting, and even then the spin options aren't much. It's disappointing, because there's a fair bit of young talent out there in the batting lineups.

Also, while I understand ripping into the captain is an obvious tactic, but surely we're neglecting old fumble-fingers prior.

Posted by Naresh28 on (July 4, 2014, 9:49 GMT)

We need a Shami/Bhuvi special to win early in the series. Right now our bowlers are not showing those signs. India needs to start strongly as opposed to picking up as the series goes along. I have confidence that the batsman can put up the required fight but can the bowlers?

Posted by rising_phoenix on (July 4, 2014, 1:21 GMT)

@Saikrishnan - I was actually not expecting Rohit Sharma to make it to the playing 11, provided India goes with 5 bowlers (which seems necessary). The team would be, according to me, - Gambhir, Dhawan/Vijay, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane/Sharma, Dhoni, Jadeja/Binny, Shami, Bhuvi, and two out of Aaron, Ishant and Pankaj Singh

Posted by   on (July 4, 2014, 1:18 GMT)

India will struggle if they dont take 20 wkts someone like Bell, Root can irritate them like Mcullam and Waiting did. They need a Bowler, our batting is ok which we have proved in SA an NZL but bowlers struggled to take wkts in SA so the test match was drawn which india was about to win after giving taregt of 430 above to SA then again in NZL we were in winning position and Mcullam scored a triple ton with Waiitng a 100 and Neshem a 100 too. So this proved our bowling is problem, 5 series is a big series players can come in form. If india can win first 2test or stay ahead in first 2 then they can save the series else Eng players will come back in form and same thing will happen like in SA and NZL. We struggle with bowling only batting is ok.

Posted by Nampally on (July 3, 2014, 21:19 GMT)

M. Shastri, getting Cook out cheaply is only one out of 10 wkt. India has to get 20 wkts. to win. The first 2 matches severely exposed the limitations of the Indian bowling & its lack of ability to get even second division county batting out. India need wkt. taking bowlers, not just names. Let India perform on the field first! Secondly Indian batting has to score more runs than the England batting to win. Indian openers showed inconsistent form. Can the openers give India a good start vs. the experience of Broad, Anderson & Plunkett? Indian middle order depends heavily on this start to build on. Yes, Cook is in poor form. But England has 3 excellent young batsmen in Balance, Robson & Stokes all born abroad - in top form currently. So Dhoni has lot of home work to do in getting these 3 out + Bell, Prior, Root, even if Cook fails. Indian batting & bowling has to do a great job to beat England on their home turf. Pujara, Kohli & Rohit have to click in batting + Seamers take wkts. galore!

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 19:10 GMT)

I think this is a perfect team...... dhawan gambhir pujara kohli rahane dhoni jadeja binny bhuvaneswar pankaj shami........wat do u say guys

Posted by Nandu_Athadu on (July 3, 2014, 18:38 GMT)

Ravi..the other will be imposed by Indian bowlers. These will take off the pressure from Cook. With Ishant as spearhead and coupled with Dhoni's defensive teactis you cant expected much from the bowling dept. My expectation is English batsmen will score 5-8 hundreds with major runs from Cook and Bell. my only hope is Shami and slight hope of Bhuvi with new ball. If dhoni comes out of his defensive mindset and throws a surprise in form of a pankaj, I doubt India can take 20 wickets. All d best team India

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 16:49 GMT)

@ rising_phoenix If he does get a debut, he will probably replace Rohit Sharma, the only batsman who wasn't successful i SA and NZ, everyone else impressed in both the tours or atleast one of the tours. No way, will he replace Jadeja, how can a medium pacer replace the only spinner ? Its illogical.

Posted by rising_phoenix on (July 3, 2014, 16:23 GMT)

With Stuart Binny batting so well and providing some important breakthroughs, does anyone think he deserves a place in the side?

The only person I see he can replace is Jadeja. Yet, Jadeja is most probably going to be the only spinner in the side, and hence can't sit out. What do you guys think?

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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