England v India, 3rd Investec Test, Ageas Bowl July 26, 2014

Cook should quit captaincy to recover form - Pietersen

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Butcher: Pietersen's statement on Cook has a lot of truth in it

Kevin Pietersen has said Alastair Cook "has shown he does not have the tactical brain to lead the side" and would fare better if he stepped down from captaincy. In his column for the Telegraph, Pietersen highlighted the importance of Cook, the opening batsman, in the context of setting up a Test and said England needed that aspect more than his leadership skills.

"He could have another 10 years left but his batting requires emergency help and he needs to speak to someone away from the England set-up," Pietersen said. "He has to be honest with himself.

"I had an issue with left-arm spin so went to seek advice from others. I spoke to Indians, the best players of spin in the world, and asked them how I could solve it. I spoke to people in the Indian Premier League, spent hours on the phone and communicated via email with coaches and players."

Cook still wants to be the man that takes England forward from their current slump. But after ceding the Lord's Test - England's seventh loss in 10 matches - on a green pitch seemingly to the home side's advantage, he admitted it was one of his "darkest experiences" and that his position would become "untenable" if his search for form remained fruitless over the remaining three Tests against India.

"The hardest issue for him [Cook] to deal with is concerns over his tactical expertise," Pietersen said. "His batting has been under the microscope before. He knows how to deal with that. But captaincy is different, especially now he has lost his right-hand man in Matt Prior. Cook needs people with experience of international cricket around him, which Peter Moores and Paul Farbrace lack."

According to Pietersen, "he should do what is right for England and resign the captaincy", allowing him to focus on his game and regaining the sort of the form that made him England's leading century-maker in Tests.

The Ageas Bowl is the scene of Cook's next challenge and, with the team 0-1 down, Pietersen believes a counterpunch is needed to improve Cook's game.

"He is 6ft 3in and a strong, stocky guy. He should be batting like Matthew Hayden. He should not stand there and let medium pacers bowl him half-volleys all day long and get him out," Pietersen said. "Someone of his size, strength, ability and with his eye should be hitting half-volleys for four all day.

"Look at Cook's head when he is nicking off at the moment. It is above or behind his front knee. He is not heading down the ground and a strong guy like that opening the innings with a build like Hayden should be hitting the ball straight. The cover drive is the easiest shot in the world to play. Every kid can do it so why not someone as talented as Cook? Batting is all about hitting balls in straight lines. A guy who has scored 25 Test hundreds can change his game slightly and start driving off the front foot."

Cook needn't lose hope though, reckons Pietersen. He said England should take a hint from other teams enlisting former players - like Marvan Atapattu for Sri Lanka, Rahul Dravid for India and Shane Warne for Australia - and utilising their experience. Neither Moores or Farbrace played international cricket and England discarded Graham Gooch, their leading run-scorer in Tests, as batting coach at the start of the summer but Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash remain involved.

"How many ex-international players have England had recently working with them? None. There is so much knowledge in English cricket going to waste," he said.

"There are so many great cricket brains in the Sky studios. Put that radio in your ear, listen to them on the balcony or in the dressing room and Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Warne or whoever could be saying something you didn't know and could implement in the game."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on July 27, 2014, 14:07 GMT

    I don't think I've ever read a single post, quote or article (except maybe from the odd usual suspect having a go at certain players regardless of topic, form etc.) questioning or doubting Cook's talents with the willow in hand. As I write he's 70 not out, albeit on what looks like a good pitch for batting against a bowling attach that seems to be struggling to get it's line and length right or at least as good as they did at Lords. Could this become the big score sorely needed to restore some faith and confidence in not just himself, but cricket fans/pundits all over the world?

    His captaincy, however, has been cause for concern throughout. I just wonder what has kept him on as captain for so long now? 'Familiarity breeds contempt'... or 'any port in a storm'... One thing is for certain: something is broken and needs fixing. It's 2014, and just scraping home the odd wins/draws with unimaginative tactics is not enough anymore. Not if you want to be(come) number one.

  • Steven on July 27, 2014, 4:31 GMT

    I think kp is right about Cook but maybe he should have kept quiet cos there's Noway Cook is going to back down now and prove kp to be right cos the England camp seem to be so stubborn they think they know best and no one else can be right but whatever happens there's nothing with admitting mistakes and backing down but staying in denial isn't going to help anyone Infact it may make the situation worst afresh voice and ideas may just help solve some of the issues that England currently have at least if they bring Morgan back there's a leadership option down the track if not he will be agood right hand man for whoever is the captain hopefully it's still not cook

  • ram on July 27, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Several players we know were made captains but relieved of captaincy. Ian Botham and Sachin are good examples. Ritchie Benaud was not a regular in the Team but started doing well when given the captaincy.

  • Jon on July 26, 2014, 21:47 GMT

    Some people are pathetically one eyed. KP does not denigrate Cook. His captaincy, to anyone who has regularly captained at any level, is blatantly tactically inept. To say that is just stating the obvious.

    He says Cooks out of form, anyone who cant agree with that is seriously deluded. He then goes on to say Cook is incredibly talented and could play for another 10 years.

    He also criticises the lack of top level batting experience in the coaching set up, which again is blatantly obvious.

    This is a reasonable article where the points he makes arel fair, although I do struggle with Cook trying to imitate Hayden, he is not a natural front foot player so taking test bowlers on straight I believe would be questionable approach for Cook. However a more aggressive approach may be worth a try.

  • David on July 26, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    This is probably what KP insinuated in that meeting after the third Test in australia. He was the only one in the England dressing room who saw the way things really were. New broom and maybe even KP comes back into the side. Hope springs eternal.

  • Dummy on July 26, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    I think England should call KP back to the side.

  • Lee on July 26, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    So KP says Cook does not have the tactical brain to be captain, it might be true, but then nor did he. And Moores and Farbrace are dismissed because they did not have international careers, but then he didn't rate Flowers (63 tests, 213 ODI), but respected Duncan Fletcher (6 ODI). Oh and by the way, Cook needs to learn how to bat properly, this from a player who avoided playing in the top three. How can he add anything to the debate about Cook or Moores when starts from a position of bitterness.

  • David on July 26, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    KP is basically spot-on with what he says - and not least that Cook should seek help beyond the England set-up, because Moores is simply not equipped to give Cook any tactical, technical advice or even emotional support. But while I agree with KP, I'm less sure he should be writing articles like these in the first place. He too needs to get his head down and concentrate on getting back into form.

  • Black on July 26, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    It was KP who said Cook could break Tendulkar's records. That appraisal of Cook was the beginning of his bad patch! Is KP's current degradation of Cook in his column a sign that Cook is about to get back into form, score a century in the next Test and win the match? If so, I totally called it!

    Don't get me wrong I dearly hope that India win, that Kohli, Shami and Dhawan get back to form and so on, but the superstitious/pessimistic side in me can't help but wonder what KP's latest statement signals!

  • Paulo on July 26, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    I actually agree with KP on this one. I haven't read the whole article, but what is presented here seems pretty logical. Obviously you should take whatever Pietersen says with a pinch of salt, but he appears to make sense here. Cook should look for help outside of the England setup. It makes sense.

    He shouldn't hold onto the captaincy. I genuinely don't think Cook is being selfish by holding onto it. I don't like KP's wording "he should do what is right for England and resign the captaincy", because it sounds like he thinks Cook is being selfish. Obviously though I have no right to make such assumptions about him, especially since I haven't read the whole article.

    I also agree with Pietersen that Cook needs to put more bad balls away such as half-volleys.

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