Cook should quit captaincy to recover form - Pietersen
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."