England news August 30, 2012

Cook a man of substance and steel

The path for Alastair Cook to become England's Test captain has been laid out from early in his career, but that does not make the challenge any less demanding
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It was probably fitting that Alastair Cook did not take the spot light even in the moment that he was unveiled as England's new Test captain. No, instead of being allowed to bask in the success of another step in a remarkable career, Cook was happy to allow Andrew Strauss to say goodbye in typically decent and self-effacing style and leave questions about Kevin Pietersen as he might balls outside his off stump.

Cook is, in many ways, an unremarkable cricketer. He can talk without you recalling a word, score centuries without you remembering a stroke and has achieved great feats of run-scoring without ever being accepted as a great. In an age of sporting prima-donnas he is refreshingly short on style and reassuringly full of substance.

He has been destined to assume the Test captaincy for years. A former England Under-19 captain, he was appointed Test vice-captain ahead of the West Indies tour of 2009 and, a year later, led in a Test for the first time when he stood in for the rested Strauss on England's tour of Bangladesh. He was been England's ODI captain for 18 months. He was not only the obvious choice, he was the only choice.

But a long apprenticeship does not necessarily assure a successful transition. Just ask Gordon Brown.

Cook is not an overwhelmingly natural captain. Like his predecessor, Cook is no orator and no tactical genius. But such skills are often over-rated. They are for captains in comics and clichés. When your side is following-on, you do not want a speech in the dressing room: you want a man who will see off the new ball and bat all day. Cook will be that sort of captain. Like Strauss, he is reliable, calm and strong. He is respected by his team as a player and liked by them as a man. He will lead through example and by instilling a unity of purpose. He is a continuity captain. This is not a new era, it is the continuation of an old one.

That is no bad thing. Despite recent setbacks, England have enjoyed unprecedented success over the last few years and, right now, they do not need more uncertainty. And while Cook may want to improve his somewhat edgy relationship with the media - as Duncan Fletcher's experiences showed, it will hurt eventually - he knows the demands of the job he has accepted and, unlike the appointments of Strauss, Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, has no natural contender for the role. The dressing room is right behind him.

Besides, it would be easy to exaggerate the importance of the captain in this England set-up. It is the coach, Andy Flower, who runs the England team. Tellingly, while Flower is part of the selection process, Strauss was not. Not until the morning of the game, anyway.

Cook inherits a team at a crossroads. While England have recently lost their No. 1 ranking in all formats of the game and, with one top-order player having retired and another having alienated himself from the team, could be at the start of a partial rebuilding process

Cook inherits a team at a crossroads. While England have recently lost their No.1 ranking in all formats of the game and, with one top-order player having retired and another having alienated himself from the team, could be at the start of a partial rebuilding process. There are doubts, too, about Graeme Swann's fitness - when a 33-year-old with a history of elbow problems requires resting just half-a-dozen games after his last break the alarm bells ring - and Stuart Broad's form. Cook will also have to help put together a new slip cordon. England's catching - or rather their lack of it - has been a major weakness of late.

The most urgent requirement is to find a new opener. In the long-term Joe Root may be the best option though, aged 21 and with just four first-class centuries to his name, it is asking a great deal of him to continue his development at the highest level. In the shorter-term, 31-year-old Michael Carberry and 29-year-old Nick Compton might be considered. The former has not always looked at his best against spin and the latter has been batting at No.3 in recent times, but anyone with Compton's record - he averages 97.84 for Somerset in first-class cricket this season - surely has the technique and temperament required. Varun Chopra might also be an option.

But England will also be tempted to promote from within. Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and James Taylor could all make a case for opening alongside Cook in India though in the cases of Trott and Bell, such a ploy might only move a problem rather than solve it.

While Jonny Bairstow may have done enough to warrant a prolonged run in the No. 6 position, the absence of Pietersen leaves England exposed in the middle-order. While nurturing one or, at a push, two new batsmen into the top order might be acceptable, there is now a possibility that Bairstow will be one of three new faces in the top six. The Pietersen issue continues to hurt the individual and the team, but it is not really Cook's issue to resolve. Pietersen's biggest impediment to a return is Flower. And it is a mighty impediment.

But if history has taught us anything, it is never to write off Cook. From the moment he scored a century on Test debut as a 21-year-old he has defied his doubters. A testing period in 2010, when it appeared that fatal flaws in his technique had been exposed, gave way to a prolific Ashes success where he scored three centuries. He responded to the ODI captaincy by leading his side to the top of the rankings and reinventing himself as a highly effective limited-overs opener. Behind the somewhat bland façade, Cook has substance and steel.

He will need those qualities over the next couple of years. He will be, barring injury or unforeseen circumstance, the man leading England against India home and away, against Australia home and away and in the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. It is, at once, a daunting and exciting schedule and how Cook navigates those challenges will surely define his legacy. It may be worth noting that, aged 27 and experienced in many of the ups and downs that make a career, he has never suffered long-term failure.

Of all the forthcoming challenges, though, Cook could be forgiven for looking at the Future Tours Programme and circling December 2015 with particular trepidation. That is, after all, when England next play a Test series against South Africa. Before the recent series between the two teams, Graeme Smith was described as a "slayer" of England captains, having been partially responsible by dint of his batting and his team's success in pushing Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan into quitting the job. Now, with Strauss following a similar route, he must be considered a serial killer.

There is no perfect time to inherit the captaincy. It is only natural that captains assume command in the aftermath of humbling defeats or horrid fall-outs - after all, why would something end if it was working well? - and, while Cook may need to wipe some blood off the tracks, he does at least have the opportunity to build a new team without any immediate worries about his own form or the stability of the England set-up. That is a luxury many of his predecessors would have loved.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 31, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    @peter56 on (August 31 2012, 00:25 AM GMT) - Do you or any others think that Strauss resigned over the KP issue? I thought that after the SA series , esp after the decline personal form he showed . I'm not sure he did open a campaign against Strauss , just that some of the texts we think we know about were about Strauss. I might be on my own here but I see Strauss as a man who is far more likely to be forgiving than anyone else and to me his departure will not make it any easier for KP to get back in the side. We've already heard of certain players who don't like KP being around for whatever reason and who knows where everyone else stands. If senior players are still not happy with KP then I don't see KP getting in just because Flower resigns. It seems that Eng are a unit and players feelings count for much. The only way I see KP returning is if he patches things up with everyone in that side and that means being brave enough to approach the players himself.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    MattyP1979 " Cook is a fantastic opening batsman. He does seem a bit of a wimp to me though" How therefore do you possibly expect Cook to be able to keep the Pietersen ego in check when the far tougher Strauss finally gave up and fell on his sword? If Pietersen is ever going to be re integrated into the team then it would have to happen during a relatively low key series maybe against New Zealand ,certainly not in the star crazed hysteria that would greet him in India. He is idolised over there AND HE KNOWS IT. its not hard to imagine the deafening adulation he would receive every time that he walked to the wicket . It would be a totally impossible situation for the rest of the team.(and it would totally overwhelm Cook) who would be seen as little more than bit part players in the conquering hero's return to the land that loves him (the blanket Indian support for KP across all blogs has been scary)it cant happen before NZ.

  • POSTED BY on | August 31, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    It will be interesting to see if he will remain captain after they tour the subcontinent. all the best to him though first English captain of an English teams after long period. i am not sure if i agree with everything in the article but he is a decent cricketer with current line up he would be my second choice, i know in the recent past we have not had bowling captains but Anderson who is the main leader of the team should be given a chance. I am not a fan of any english player but realistically speaking Anderson deserves it more.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | August 31, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    I like Cook. So not full of himself and a very unflappable temperament. On the face of it, perfectly suited to being England captain. My concern, remembering that he will really be targeted by opposing fast bowlers now, is that his technique is perhaps not quite as sound as his numbers suggest. After a good 1st innings in this recent series, South Africa really nailed him. His best innings have been on pretty good tracks against attacks with big problems e.g. Australia 2010, India 2011. Not sure that he could do a Steve Waugh and bat all day on a difficult track or against a really hostile attack that kept hammering away at his obvious weakness, the slightly away moving ball just on or outside off stump. If good attacks can sustain that probing line/length then I think he could have some difficulty. That said, sometimes the hour maketh the man. Like Steve Waugh, I think he has a great attitude, work ethic and temperament if not Steve's belligerance in the face of adversity. We'll see.

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 31, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    I rate Cook as one of the best opening bats in the last decade or so, not quite in the league of Matty Hayden, but getting there. He's good on all surfaces and against spin & pace. The 1st century he made against Oz was a masterclass in how to play Warney; he didn't attack like Lara, but he used rock-solid defence combined with selective attacking strokes. It was a 'pleasure' to watch. Unlike the very lucky Mr. Strauss, he has not inherited a side on the ascendancy, but one that is most definitely on the downhill slide. Whilst he has the makings of a good captain, his team will be a 'ball & chain' that will become a burden the longer his career goes on. I expect his batting will begin to suffer the consequences of repeated thumpings, 1st by IND in all formats; they'll go OK vs NZ, but it won't be a one-sided contest; culminating in a vicious mauling by the resurgent OZ in the Ashes next year (very confident AUS 3 nil in that one). You're gonna need thick skin, Cookie!!!!

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 31, 2012, 1:56 GMT

    @Hammond, So you're only worried about the ODI format, eh. The Poms test form has been atrocious, you know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Cook seems to be struggling atm, SA are continuing the 'golden run' and simply destroying your precious little dears. They are very sad remnants of the very good side that beast Oz 3-1, but the game moves on, as do teams. Unfortunately for ENG, the only movement thay've made recently has been sliding down the rankings, and this WILL continue in IND. Not only will they lose the test series by at least 2 nil, they'll cop the Mother Of All Floggings in the ODI format, IND are the current Cup holders, after all - s'pose you'll always have the T20, Hammond, but IND will dish up more of the same. Best concentrate on that LONG OVERDUE rebuilding process. Here's a tip, I know it'll be a totally alien concept for the ECB, but concentrate on home-grown talent, don't go for more poaching - I realise the cupboards are bare, but press on anyway!!!!

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    As Michael Atherton said Strauss has 'walked the plank' first Kp got rid of Moores now he has got rid of strauss. who had KP been targetting via these texts Strauss and he has hit the bullseye yet again.' I've great faith in the set-up. I've still got a lot of desire there' strauss quote 20/8. then the pressure was put on strauss to talk to KP. As a man of honour it would not be hard to imagine Strauss the victim of an unprecedented attack on his captaincy baulking at having to justify himself to his attacker. In hindsight it was not hard to see that he was not willing to compromise his integrity any further and so he walks away. there will only be one winner here KP ( he set out on a campaign of ridicule against strauss so he is not going to be unhappy that strauss has gone) he has split the Flower strauss axis, and now can see the prospect of a new captain,a new beginning, an amnesty being announced ,everyone is now starting off with a clean slate. will the ECB do that to Strauss

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 0:24 GMT

    So Now as M. Atherton said today Strauss 'has walked the plank' one of the biggest obstacles to the return of KP is gone.in this article you point out that now the biggest obstacle to KP 's return is Andy Flower. Now while nobody thinks that flower is going to quit.are you now turning up the heat on the anti-KP faction in the dressing room? " There are doubts, too, about Graeme Swann's fitness - when a 33-year-old with a history of elbow problems requires resting just half-a-dozen games after his last break the alarm bells ring - and Stuart Broad's form" Bresnan has already been dropped.the implication being You guys ought to be individually worried about your places in the team thereby having the effect of considerably weakening the anti-Kp faction in the dressing room. Kp's number one target in the texts was Strauss and he has hit the bullseye. strike 1 was get rid of Moores and strike 2 was to get rid of Strauss. wait for the amnesty a new captain and the slate wiped clean fo KP

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 30, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    Cook is a fantastic opening batsman. He does seem a bit of a wimp to me though, and I hope he can grow a pair and find some steel in his leadership style. Yes his first assignment looks tough, however Strauss was always going to struggle in Ind, so his exclusion creates a stronger side on field at least. I want Trott to open with him and Bell up to 3. Kp back in and JB/Prior/Bresnan/Swann/Anderson/Finn/Monty. Broad/Patel as back up's.

  • POSTED BY voma on | August 30, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    I agree with the decision to make him captain , but worry it could effect his batting . Hes had a hard time against the South Africans for sure , but the saffers have the best bowing attack in the world right now . Well after watching this series just gone , allthough the 2-0 scoreline did flatter the saffers ! . Cook is a bully against weaker bowling attacks , ie Australia and India . He will become Englands highest run scorer , without doubt .

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 31, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    @peter56 on (August 31 2012, 00:25 AM GMT) - Do you or any others think that Strauss resigned over the KP issue? I thought that after the SA series , esp after the decline personal form he showed . I'm not sure he did open a campaign against Strauss , just that some of the texts we think we know about were about Strauss. I might be on my own here but I see Strauss as a man who is far more likely to be forgiving than anyone else and to me his departure will not make it any easier for KP to get back in the side. We've already heard of certain players who don't like KP being around for whatever reason and who knows where everyone else stands. If senior players are still not happy with KP then I don't see KP getting in just because Flower resigns. It seems that Eng are a unit and players feelings count for much. The only way I see KP returning is if he patches things up with everyone in that side and that means being brave enough to approach the players himself.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    MattyP1979 " Cook is a fantastic opening batsman. He does seem a bit of a wimp to me though" How therefore do you possibly expect Cook to be able to keep the Pietersen ego in check when the far tougher Strauss finally gave up and fell on his sword? If Pietersen is ever going to be re integrated into the team then it would have to happen during a relatively low key series maybe against New Zealand ,certainly not in the star crazed hysteria that would greet him in India. He is idolised over there AND HE KNOWS IT. its not hard to imagine the deafening adulation he would receive every time that he walked to the wicket . It would be a totally impossible situation for the rest of the team.(and it would totally overwhelm Cook) who would be seen as little more than bit part players in the conquering hero's return to the land that loves him (the blanket Indian support for KP across all blogs has been scary)it cant happen before NZ.

  • POSTED BY on | August 31, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    It will be interesting to see if he will remain captain after they tour the subcontinent. all the best to him though first English captain of an English teams after long period. i am not sure if i agree with everything in the article but he is a decent cricketer with current line up he would be my second choice, i know in the recent past we have not had bowling captains but Anderson who is the main leader of the team should be given a chance. I am not a fan of any english player but realistically speaking Anderson deserves it more.

  • POSTED BY bustermove on | August 31, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    I like Cook. So not full of himself and a very unflappable temperament. On the face of it, perfectly suited to being England captain. My concern, remembering that he will really be targeted by opposing fast bowlers now, is that his technique is perhaps not quite as sound as his numbers suggest. After a good 1st innings in this recent series, South Africa really nailed him. His best innings have been on pretty good tracks against attacks with big problems e.g. Australia 2010, India 2011. Not sure that he could do a Steve Waugh and bat all day on a difficult track or against a really hostile attack that kept hammering away at his obvious weakness, the slightly away moving ball just on or outside off stump. If good attacks can sustain that probing line/length then I think he could have some difficulty. That said, sometimes the hour maketh the man. Like Steve Waugh, I think he has a great attitude, work ethic and temperament if not Steve's belligerance in the face of adversity. We'll see.

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 31, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    I rate Cook as one of the best opening bats in the last decade or so, not quite in the league of Matty Hayden, but getting there. He's good on all surfaces and against spin & pace. The 1st century he made against Oz was a masterclass in how to play Warney; he didn't attack like Lara, but he used rock-solid defence combined with selective attacking strokes. It was a 'pleasure' to watch. Unlike the very lucky Mr. Strauss, he has not inherited a side on the ascendancy, but one that is most definitely on the downhill slide. Whilst he has the makings of a good captain, his team will be a 'ball & chain' that will become a burden the longer his career goes on. I expect his batting will begin to suffer the consequences of repeated thumpings, 1st by IND in all formats; they'll go OK vs NZ, but it won't be a one-sided contest; culminating in a vicious mauling by the resurgent OZ in the Ashes next year (very confident AUS 3 nil in that one). You're gonna need thick skin, Cookie!!!!

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 31, 2012, 1:56 GMT

    @Hammond, So you're only worried about the ODI format, eh. The Poms test form has been atrocious, you know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Cook seems to be struggling atm, SA are continuing the 'golden run' and simply destroying your precious little dears. They are very sad remnants of the very good side that beast Oz 3-1, but the game moves on, as do teams. Unfortunately for ENG, the only movement thay've made recently has been sliding down the rankings, and this WILL continue in IND. Not only will they lose the test series by at least 2 nil, they'll cop the Mother Of All Floggings in the ODI format, IND are the current Cup holders, after all - s'pose you'll always have the T20, Hammond, but IND will dish up more of the same. Best concentrate on that LONG OVERDUE rebuilding process. Here's a tip, I know it'll be a totally alien concept for the ECB, but concentrate on home-grown talent, don't go for more poaching - I realise the cupboards are bare, but press on anyway!!!!

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    As Michael Atherton said Strauss has 'walked the plank' first Kp got rid of Moores now he has got rid of strauss. who had KP been targetting via these texts Strauss and he has hit the bullseye yet again.' I've great faith in the set-up. I've still got a lot of desire there' strauss quote 20/8. then the pressure was put on strauss to talk to KP. As a man of honour it would not be hard to imagine Strauss the victim of an unprecedented attack on his captaincy baulking at having to justify himself to his attacker. In hindsight it was not hard to see that he was not willing to compromise his integrity any further and so he walks away. there will only be one winner here KP ( he set out on a campaign of ridicule against strauss so he is not going to be unhappy that strauss has gone) he has split the Flower strauss axis, and now can see the prospect of a new captain,a new beginning, an amnesty being announced ,everyone is now starting off with a clean slate. will the ECB do that to Strauss

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 31, 2012, 0:24 GMT

    So Now as M. Atherton said today Strauss 'has walked the plank' one of the biggest obstacles to the return of KP is gone.in this article you point out that now the biggest obstacle to KP 's return is Andy Flower. Now while nobody thinks that flower is going to quit.are you now turning up the heat on the anti-KP faction in the dressing room? " There are doubts, too, about Graeme Swann's fitness - when a 33-year-old with a history of elbow problems requires resting just half-a-dozen games after his last break the alarm bells ring - and Stuart Broad's form" Bresnan has already been dropped.the implication being You guys ought to be individually worried about your places in the team thereby having the effect of considerably weakening the anti-Kp faction in the dressing room. Kp's number one target in the texts was Strauss and he has hit the bullseye. strike 1 was get rid of Moores and strike 2 was to get rid of Strauss. wait for the amnesty a new captain and the slate wiped clean fo KP

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 30, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    Cook is a fantastic opening batsman. He does seem a bit of a wimp to me though, and I hope he can grow a pair and find some steel in his leadership style. Yes his first assignment looks tough, however Strauss was always going to struggle in Ind, so his exclusion creates a stronger side on field at least. I want Trott to open with him and Bell up to 3. Kp back in and JB/Prior/Bresnan/Swann/Anderson/Finn/Monty. Broad/Patel as back up's.

  • POSTED BY voma on | August 30, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    I agree with the decision to make him captain , but worry it could effect his batting . Hes had a hard time against the South Africans for sure , but the saffers have the best bowing attack in the world right now . Well after watching this series just gone , allthough the 2-0 scoreline did flatter the saffers ! . Cook is a bully against weaker bowling attacks , ie Australia and India . He will become Englands highest run scorer , without doubt .

  • POSTED BY TimMann on | August 30, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    jakiethepen is quite sensible when he suggests Ian Bell has been overlooked. Read his post again and see Bell's credentials - just as good as Cook, but Bell has never been in the inner clique of Strauss, Cook, Swann and Anderson, with Broad as well I suppose. He has not pushed his case as a bowler, either, while Bopara has. But he should be vice captain in my view. By the way, the spare wicket keeper in India should surely be Bairstow. Don't waste time with a Davies who won't get a match.

  • POSTED BY pmuponda on | August 30, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Cook is a great player. On a comparison basis man for man vs South Africa he is the only player who beat his opposite number. Wheather he will make a good captain it remains to be seen. It will be a shame if his own personal form dips with the captains. More often than not this will be the case.

  • POSTED BY phoenixsteve on | August 30, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    I guess that Cook was the natural choice to succeed Andrew Strauss? It's just such a pity that his current form is so miserable - poor guy looks like a walking wicket whenever he faces South Africa. The demise in England's status is more to do woth poor batting than poor fieding (which hasn't helped) or poor bowling. Over the past couple of years the bowling has 'got them out of jail free' on a number of occasions & is the chief reason they achieved no. 1 status. In my mind you need a captain who's pretty much an automatic selection? Cook has just failed recently to become an automatic pick. The only person who fits the bill in the present line up is Matt Prior but I don't know about his captaincy experience/ambition. Whoever leads England had better do what's needed to get KP back in the side - surely the one England batsman who all sides respect & fear. The India tour will be a tough one but if ever an Indian side were ripe for picking it has to be this one and now! COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    @Hammond I respect English cricket and I'm glad there's finally an English born captain but lets be honest....rightfully belong at number one? I think not.

  • POSTED BY MunafAhmed811 on | August 30, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    Fans expecting 4-0 Indian trashing are dreaming. I hope India thrashes 4-0 but thats not gonna happen. 1 - 0 yes...even 2-0 possibly but nothing more. Captain is as good as his team. An example : Even Imran Khan would not be able to convert current Pakistani team into good team leave alone good team. For that matter even Ganguly had core talent of fab4 in his success story as well as Dhoni.

  • POSTED BY Salutethebond on | August 30, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    How do you "cook a man of substance and steel" ?

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    @bluebillion. Please read Dobell's comment once again. He used the word "LIKE" his predecessor; and not "UNLIKE" his predecessor. If you are an Englishman, you might have read it hurriedly. If you are not an Englishman, please brush up your English. Please.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    Good choice. Since Cook opens his shoulders, sometimes, a little too early; at least for Test Cricket, Trott seems to be an ideal, balancing partner. For the long run, they could root for Root. Of all the young openers, one could periodically see on the cricket channels, Root looks the most talented and promising (the old obdurate Boyce will approve!)-- but Root is a horse for the long race & definitely NOT a replacement for Strauss in the very near future. Even a suggestion in those lines tantamount to disrespect of the gracefully retired Captain.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    If cook does well in india, atleast manages to draw de series, it means we have found one of the greatest captains of English cricketing history. But I wont be surprised if Ash-Prag combo and the heat takes a swipe at the england batters. Very tuf assignment first up..!!

  • POSTED BY RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on | August 30, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    vastly overhyped player alastair cook is: scored 760 odd runs in oz against an ordinary attack and then again showed how litttle work he had done when it comes to playing full and straight

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | August 30, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    @Tigg: Good shout! I think that Chris Nash would do well in India, and he'd make an excellent tourist. So, from the back of an envelope, here's my Test squad (15) for India: Cook, Anderson, Bairstow, Bell, Bopara, Broad, Carberry, Finn, Nash, Onions, Panesar, Prior, Swann, Tredwell, Trott. Of course, it won't be that as Patel will have a place (no Nash, alas) & the reserve w/k (presumably Steve Davies) will have Carberry's place. In that case, on stand-by: Carberry, Compton, Woakes, Taylor, Meaker & Batty. At all events, there will be a great deal of interest in seeing who is picked. Quite like the old days!

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    Over"cooked" article! lol

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | August 30, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    jackiethepen / thepoetseye: Are you a relative of Ian Bell's? Your passionate and one-eyed defense of him is always amusing to read, even if it makes no sense. Bell is a laughable candidate for captain, but at least he's stopped his attempts at 'assertive' body language. Cook was the only option as captain.

  • POSTED BY bigwonder on | August 30, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    Cook reminds of Christopher Reeve (superman movies). He has the right looks, now he needs to show he can deliver as a test and ODI captain. He has some challenges up ahead especially in India. Lot of England fans will down play the test-series with India in comparison with Ashes, but it has more to do with England never showing up for test matches in India.

  • POSTED BY DirkL on | August 30, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    Why is slip the place for senior bats? Because they are too slow elsewhere, or because they have the experience to know instinctively which ball they might have nicked, and chances are this batsman will too?

  • POSTED BY Hira1 on | August 30, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    If cook is intelligent enough he will bring back KP....strauss risk his captaincy and career by not letting KP selected in the 3rd test, cook must not let this happen to himself, one or two bad series and these people who are praising him right now will asking his resignation, life is too short to make mistakes so its better cook have Pietersen back in the team before next tour began

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    I am not impressed with the appointment of Cook as new captain of England. I agree he will not put a foot wrong against weaker opposition ahead, but he has already been put to the test against South Africa and like Strauss wasn't all that impressive. Fortunately for England, they had a vice-captain whom they could promote. I wish him good luck and all the best ahead. He is still young and has some expertise under the belt. But the dressingroom factor with Pietersen, Bell and Broad it is going to be tough on him and could affect his batting and results.

  • POSTED BY danmcb on | August 30, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    he's obviously been groomed for the job. I just hope he doesn't suffer the captain's curse and lose it with his batting.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | August 30, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    I hope Cook is more agressive in his tactics than Strauss and cracks a whip over the bowling which really was not up for it against SA- unforgivable in my view. obviously he needs to demand the best side available on the field, and i hope he will ensure that the dressing room is not clique ridden but a good environment for whoever is picked including South Africans who do not need to be treated as inferior to English born. Personally I might have tried to persuade Collingwood out of retirement given the rapid turnaround of fortunes in the north. But the best of luck to Cook. re opening partner Nash always impresses me, but Compton would be a good choice too.

  • POSTED BY StatisticsRocks on | August 30, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Good luck to Cook. He definitely seems too be the right man for the job, but only time will tell if he can be a good captain and also a successful opening batsmen. If not Cook then who else is there to be named as the captain. Maybe Jimmy. Can't wait to see him in India later this year.

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | August 30, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    Great chance to bring in an all rounder or a batsman who bowls to give the side a little bit more. I'd like to see Woakes slot in at 6 (with Trott opening and Bell at 3) or, as a Sussex fan, Chris Nash givena shot at becoming the English Sehwag/Dilshan/Gayle type character.

  • POSTED BY bumbles11 on | August 30, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    There isn't really anyone else, apart from Anderson or Swann (who has a good cricketing brain). Cook is a good batsmen (although he has not done that well against Pakistan and SA this year) but I'm not convinced about his captaincy skills.

    Catching practice is required, I've never see so many catches dropped by England?

    I have a feeling Root will be picked and Trott moved down1. Compton is crying out to be picked with his form with the bat.

  • POSTED BY premnauth on | August 30, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    A real quality batsman he is and always seem calm even under pressure

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | August 30, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Cook has shown his mettle already, whitewashing an Aussie team (albeit a bog average one). Let's hope he has learnt enough from Vaughan and Strauss to take England back to where they naturally belong (at number one).

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | August 30, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    I'm content to see Cook as captain. Like Strauss, he will be his own man - and despite his chummy demeanour, I suspect that he will be no one's fool, nor will he suffer fools gladly. I believe that Strauss's departure (& who knows? KP's too) begins a period of considerable change in the England ranks. Broad & Swann appear to be creaking & Anderson is not quite the potent force he was. On the other side of the scales, Prior & Finn are in, or approaching, their prime. Bairstow is moving forward & potentially offers some much needed aggression to the middle order if KP has gone. As for the others, I believe that Tredwell, Onions & Carberry (superb in the field) will step up in India. And Panesar, of course. It is too soon for Briggs & Root, but their time is not far away. The slip cordon needs sorting, as George has noted. It has often been the place for senior bats to field. That would suggest Trott & Bell, with Capt Cook at mid off - & polishing the ball. Plus ca change..

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | August 30, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    Cook has been destined for years...the obvious choice, the only choice? Depends who your mates are. Moores wanted Bell as his future captain. Bell also captained England under-19 and England A as well. He has captained for Warwickshire and is regarded as innovative and daring in his field settings. I think you wrote a piece about his captaincy at one point. But Bell was frozen out by Flower who favoured his ex Essex team mate Cook and groomed him accordingly. Bell is lucky now to be opening alongside Cook in ODIs after being squandered as a reserve for 2 years. And he was kept at 6 in Tests long after promotion was due to 5 even though Colly was obviously fading. Strauss was a good orator according to Swann, by the way. Churchillian he called him. He will be very very much missed. Cook has shown no natural ability as captain but he is a good solid decent cricketer who won't let us down for want of determination.

  • POSTED BY kujo on | August 30, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Really came of age on the last ashes tour, he simply tore us Aussies apart! Good luck to him, I hope he does well.

  • POSTED BY jkaussie on | August 30, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    @Dr Vindaloo...I disagree entirely, Cook doesn't have to satisfy you, or any other followers for that matter. He actually has to be true to the virtues and personality traits that made him the person he is today because that is what determined the loyalty and support of his board and his team mates. To try and be somebody he isn't is a recipe for disaster. The incidents and mistakes people make contribute to their development, and the jelly bean incident will have taught him a lesson in what not to do - will Virat Kohli if he becomes Indian captain be held to task by you because he made rude gestures to the crowd in Australia? I hope not, let him learn and mature.

  • POSTED BY bluebillion on | August 30, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    Strauss was an örator and a tactical genius"? I mean come on - you cant be serious Mr. Dobell. I firmly belive in the school of thought that a captain is as good as his team. Look what happened to Ponting when his team lost their best players. Now with Strauss and Pietersen out of the team, Cook can hardly be expected to be successful. ANd to do well (read earn a draw) in his first test series as captain, he needs Finn to stay fit. I dont think any another England bowler will be that effective in India.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    Enjoy captaining good old G Swann and KP (if the p-donna returns), esp when things turn sour. Sadly Cook is a good bat but his leadership in India was poor in the ODI's so it is a test. KP's shadow looms but Swann is an ego that has to be controlled...

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | August 30, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    I think Cook will be a more positive captain than Strauss in terms of field placements and bossing the game. Good luck Alistair, fingers crossed Graeme Smith has retired before the next tour of England.

  • POSTED BY Selassie-I on | August 30, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Best of luck to you Cookie!! @RandyOz... are you feeling okay my friend?

  • POSTED BY Rockwin on | August 30, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    English players are too critical of each other around fielding. Nobody wants to drop a catch. If you are afraid of making mistakes your fielding will get worse. Contrast South Africa!! Cook does not look like a tolerant captain to me.

  • POSTED BY cric_fan_ on | August 30, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    In my view cook doesn't look like a captain material at the moment, in future? maybe after he gains some experience and groomed some more but right now, I'd have gone with Bell.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    Oh here we go. Praise and worship even before he's even taken the helm at Test level.

  • POSTED BY anotherlostleader on | August 30, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    He was certainly not the only choice as the article claims, and he will have a tough job dealing with the clique in the dressing room...oh no that's right he is already part of it! The first thing he should do is get KP back! He must also be willing to take risks and not be boring like so many captains before him.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | August 30, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    Good luck to him. When he retires after the SA series in Dec 2015 I hope he retires with dignity like Strauss, and doesn't burst into tears like Vaughan and Hussain. He has a tough task ahead, but at least some of the 'bowlers' clique are moving out of the team. So perhaps KP can some back.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 30, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    If Pietersen is ever going to be re integrated into the team then it would have to happen during a relatively low key series maybe New Zealand ,certainly not in the star crazed hysteria that would greet him in India. can george Dobell please explain to me how is it possible for a new captain to cope with KP mania in India,KP would be too busy in the media glare , soaking up the love of his adoring Indian fans to have any time to 'do' re-integration In Inda KP is bigger than the England team HE KNOWS IT but so do the anti KP lobby in the dressihng room thats why he must miss the tour your comments please George

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    It going to be "very interesting" to hear the out come of this meeting about the future of KP now that Cook is the leader on the field .

  • POSTED BY Me_A_Gemini on | August 30, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    If anyone things that the results England got with Strauss will also be achieved with Cook then I am sorry he is seriously mistaken. The difference between Strauss and Cook is the same as it was the between S.Waugh and Ponting. Waugh made the team and set trends for the team which Ponting followed for a long time. But, when it came to rebuild the team and setting new trends (after Waugh's men retired), Ponting failed seriously which is evident from current Australian team given to Clarke. I am pretty sure that the same will be the case with Cook.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    True test of captaincy of the teams from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is a visit to the subcontinent. Till Cook shows his mental during these visits he can not be categorized as great. The reverse of it is also true. Captains of subcontinent teams are not rated good if their teams do not perform creditably in the countries mentioned here. Only West Indies used to perform well both at home and away.

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 30, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    I hope Cook's mentally prepared for the 3 nil or 4 nil pasting the Indians are going to deliver later this year. He needs to harden up, because he needs these 'training wheels' as a captain of the mediocre side he's inherited - after all, the resurgent Oz are going to hammer them in the Ashes next year. Whose your next captain-in-waiting, better start 'prepping' him, cause you're gonna need him. Cook to average no higher than 18 iin the 4-test series in India!!!! More of the same when our fast bowlers get over there (not that military medium fodder you dished up to SA). Good luck on the LONG OVERDUE rebuilding process after the SHORTEST & MOST EMBARRASSING stint at the top in living memory!!!!

  • POSTED BY sam_screaming on | August 30, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    Tough road ahead for Cook. After Pietersen, the English batting looks brittle and now they will have to find another opener to be able to play at the test level. And that opener will take around 4 years to learn how to defend spin. tough times ahead for Cook and Co. Ashwin to bowl the first over in India

  • POSTED BY csr11 on | August 30, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    Cook needs to beware of the 'dobell jinx'.. hopefully his captaincy does not unravel like 'fortress england' , and we have some quality cricket come winter..

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    Re: the slips issue. Now he is captain he should consider moving himself to mid-off and bring Trott into the slips. I like Cook, and his understated style. Good luck Alistair.

  • POSTED BY jasonpete on | August 30, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    Cook is a quality bat and will be a good captain in test level as well.He has all the respects from his team mates and hs style of captaincy also similar to Strauss,calm and cool.All the best and for future England series.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | August 30, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    I don't get when people say captains should "lead with the bat". Batsmen should lead with the bat - that's their job. Are you saying a batsman has more leeway with nonperformance when he is not captain? The captain is there to lead the team for the duration of the match, on the field and in the dressing room. Man management and tactical nous are the primary requirements for captaincy.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    cooks real test will on the asian pitches..I don't see england winning any matches in aisa...exit of peterson(englands best batsman by far) has only weaken them...

  • POSTED BY o-bomb on | August 30, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Good luck to Cook. Following such an unflappable character as Strauss will not be an easy task, but I think he'll be up to it.

  • POSTED BY Long-Leg on | August 30, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    Sad as I am to see Strauss go, I am also delighted to see Cook take his place. It is important to remember that he is only 27 years old with his best batting years still to come (Andrew Strauss was 27 before he even broke into the test team.) Even at this tender age Cook has 20 test centuries to his name and is on the verge of breaking every English batting record there is. If he continues to play with the same level of application and form until he is 35 he will have over 40 test centuries to his name and be the greatest English batsman ever to walk the face of the earth.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | August 30, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    I think it's not the worst time to make the break for England. The Indian's are very hungry for revenge and the English struggle on turning wickets. At least now the have some leeway with excuses - a new captain still "finding his feet". As to the opening partner, I say put a strokemaker at the top in India, either KP or Bell, ala Sehwag. It will give that little of time to Joe Root to mature, and he can start against New Zealand.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Pietersen's impediment to a return is not Flower. It is himself.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 30, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Sorry but smith didnt see of Nasser and Vaughan, both were short on form way before SA visited these shores, and I seem to remember that Nass stood aside after Strauss made a brilliant start to his career, with a ton while Vaughan was injured, so on Vaughans return it was obvious that Nass stepped aside so a talented cricketer could continue. Vaughan also had spent more time out of the side than in it due to an ongoing knee injury, so it was more a case of when rather than If. Strauss also has been short on form for the last 18-24 months so again it was more when rather than If.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 30, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Cook is a quality bat, and I believe he can be a good captain. Another truly astounding thing is that he is the first captain since Freddie to actually be English. Good luck Alistair (although not in the Ashes!).

  • POSTED BY Uppercut07 on | August 30, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    don't think it's a good idea to heap the praise on him even before he takes the job, especially with a tour to india to come!!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    Sad to see Strauss go but Cook is a great replacement. You said he isn't accepted as a great? This is due to the quiet way he goes about his business but anybody who has watched him for the last 5 years knows that he will definitely go down as a great English batsmen especially as by the time he retires he will have smashed nearly all the English Test batting records! After that last Ashes series I think he is already a great!

  • POSTED BY Dr.Vindaloo on | August 30, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    Cook is a mighty player and has a great cricketing brain on him but he just doesn't have the gravity of Strauss. He often tries to get out of a tight corner with flippant schoolboy comments (remember jellybeangate: 'it couldn't have been me - I'm a fruit pastilles man'). He's going to have go grow up fast if he wants to command the same respect as his predecessor. And that includes refraining from referring to all his team mates by their nicknames (Straussy, Trotty, Belly, Bressy, Broady etc etc). Strauss was very good at separating himself from the juvenile dressing room humour, at least when he faced the press, and Cook needs to do likewise.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | August 30, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    He is the best man available. Cool composed and gives his all. Easily gets the respect of the teammates and the opponents too. Might look very soft but proved his aggressiveness on the field. The way he came back roaring in Ashes and didn't look back till now. The most impressive was his batting in OD format. He could take England back to where they were last year..

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  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | August 30, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    He is the best man available. Cool composed and gives his all. Easily gets the respect of the teammates and the opponents too. Might look very soft but proved his aggressiveness on the field. The way he came back roaring in Ashes and didn't look back till now. The most impressive was his batting in OD format. He could take England back to where they were last year..

  • POSTED BY Dr.Vindaloo on | August 30, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    Cook is a mighty player and has a great cricketing brain on him but he just doesn't have the gravity of Strauss. He often tries to get out of a tight corner with flippant schoolboy comments (remember jellybeangate: 'it couldn't have been me - I'm a fruit pastilles man'). He's going to have go grow up fast if he wants to command the same respect as his predecessor. And that includes refraining from referring to all his team mates by their nicknames (Straussy, Trotty, Belly, Bressy, Broady etc etc). Strauss was very good at separating himself from the juvenile dressing room humour, at least when he faced the press, and Cook needs to do likewise.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    Sad to see Strauss go but Cook is a great replacement. You said he isn't accepted as a great? This is due to the quiet way he goes about his business but anybody who has watched him for the last 5 years knows that he will definitely go down as a great English batsmen especially as by the time he retires he will have smashed nearly all the English Test batting records! After that last Ashes series I think he is already a great!

  • POSTED BY Uppercut07 on | August 30, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    don't think it's a good idea to heap the praise on him even before he takes the job, especially with a tour to india to come!!!!!

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 30, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Cook is a quality bat, and I believe he can be a good captain. Another truly astounding thing is that he is the first captain since Freddie to actually be English. Good luck Alistair (although not in the Ashes!).

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 30, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Sorry but smith didnt see of Nasser and Vaughan, both were short on form way before SA visited these shores, and I seem to remember that Nass stood aside after Strauss made a brilliant start to his career, with a ton while Vaughan was injured, so on Vaughans return it was obvious that Nass stepped aside so a talented cricketer could continue. Vaughan also had spent more time out of the side than in it due to an ongoing knee injury, so it was more a case of when rather than If. Strauss also has been short on form for the last 18-24 months so again it was more when rather than If.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Pietersen's impediment to a return is not Flower. It is himself.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | August 30, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    I think it's not the worst time to make the break for England. The Indian's are very hungry for revenge and the English struggle on turning wickets. At least now the have some leeway with excuses - a new captain still "finding his feet". As to the opening partner, I say put a strokemaker at the top in India, either KP or Bell, ala Sehwag. It will give that little of time to Joe Root to mature, and he can start against New Zealand.

  • POSTED BY Long-Leg on | August 30, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    Sad as I am to see Strauss go, I am also delighted to see Cook take his place. It is important to remember that he is only 27 years old with his best batting years still to come (Andrew Strauss was 27 before he even broke into the test team.) Even at this tender age Cook has 20 test centuries to his name and is on the verge of breaking every English batting record there is. If he continues to play with the same level of application and form until he is 35 he will have over 40 test centuries to his name and be the greatest English batsman ever to walk the face of the earth.

  • POSTED BY o-bomb on | August 30, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Good luck to Cook. Following such an unflappable character as Strauss will not be an easy task, but I think he'll be up to it.