Cook eager to prove T20 credentials
Alastair Cook, England's one-day international captain, believes he could adapt to the Twenty20 format were he to return to the international side as captain for the two matches against West Indies next week after Stuart Broad was ruled out.
Broad suffered a shoulder injury during the fourth ODI against India at Lord's, and will also miss the one-day leg of the India tour although there is hope we will be fit to resume his Twenty20 captaincy for the one-off game in Kolkata on October 29. However, before then, England are left with a tricky decision as to how to fill his vacancy because Eoin Morgan, Broad's vice-captain, is out of action until January with his own shoulder problem.
There are a couple of left-field options England could consider, such as Graeme Swann or Kevin Pietersen, which would make it five captains in a season, or they could extend Cook's remit from his ODI role where he has had a successful summer with series victories against Sri Lanka and India.
Cook's only T20 captaincy experience came against South Africa, in Centurion, in 2009, which was his first match in charge of England. He looked lost in the field as Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman added 170 for the first wicket to set up a crushing 84-run victory for the hosts. However, Cook has had the chance to expand his leadership skills in the last 18 months, firstly captaining the tour to Bangladesh then being named the one-day captain.
There have also been signs during the season that Cook has expanded his game in 50-over cricket, suggesting that he could have another crack at Twenty20 where he currently has four international caps.
"It's another step out of my comfort zone, a lot more hard work," Cook said after being named the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year on Monday evening. "But I've scored runs for Essex in Twenty20, and if I get the chance to play Twenty20 [for England] I hope I can show that again. I've always said I want to play all three formats of the game.
"Test cricket obviously comes a bit more naturally to me, and suits my style of game. In the last two years I've really worked hard to develop my range of shots, and it's worked - and I think there's huge potential still to come as those shots become more and more natural."
The problem with handing Cook the role is that it would be disruptive to the top order. Against India, at Old Trafford, England opened with Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales so Cook would have to take the position of one of those players. Andy Flower had hoped to use the matches against West Indies - a late addition to the schedule due to TV commitments - as the first stage in planning the defence of the World Twenty20 title, in Sri Lanka next September, but without Morgan and Broad he is missing two key elements.
"Obviously it's very disappointing for Stuart to miss out," Cook added. "It's gutting for him, but it gives another person a chance to captain England. The selectors will make that decision. It's not whether you'd like the job, it's whether you're honoured enough to be given it."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo