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Cook relief after period in limbo

Andrew McGlashan

April 20, 2014

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Alastair Cook made a century as Essex responded well, Essex v Derbyshire, County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford, 2nd day, April 14, 2014
Alastair Cook: "When I found who it was, it was a weight off my shoulders. I can now pick up the phone and talk cricket" © Getty Images
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Alastair Cook admitted he had felt in limbo since returning from Australia and is now energised by the prospect of being able to begin forging the next generation of the England team alongside Peter Moores.

Cook was told of Moores' appointment for his second stint as England coach on Friday afternoon, bringing an end to an uncertain couple of months for him where he has been eager to start planning how to arrest England's winter decline but was unable to talk to the man in charge because his identity was unknown. He also said that the split coaching set-up, implemented in early 2013, had been "very hard to manage" and that one man in overall charge was the ideal way forward.

There was a sense, too, as Cook spoke at Lord's following the announcement of Moores' return five years after being sacked, that he is going to embrace the chance to put his mark on English cricket with more than just runs (although they, too, have been in short supply). It was, perhaps, a partial admission that the team Cook inherited from Andrew Strauss had not accepted the methods that work for one captain-coach combination do not always translate to a new pairing.

Cook, looking refreshed and chipper following a pre-season where he has been able to concentrate on himself for a few weeks (a small benefit of the state of flux English cricket has been in, plus his absence from the T20 side) and after a hundred last week for Essex, opted for a touch of self-depreciation as he summed up his roller-coaster captaincy to date.

"As a captain I seem to have got rid of two coaches and an MD, so not sure what has quite happened," he said. "It's been an amazing 18 months. I had Andy as the full-time coach, then Andy Flower and Ashley Giles as coaches and now Peter. Over 18 months that's quite a lot to deal with.

"We have been in limbo the last couple of months, coming back from Australia, devastated with what happened, and you start to think about how to turn things around. You have a lot of ideas, talk to a lot of people but you can't actually follow through until the head coach came in. When I found who it was, it was a weight off my shoulders. I can now pick up the phone and talk cricket."

Giles lost out due to concerns over his lack of experience - seven years as a coach compared to Moores' 16 - and Cook said he was "gutted" for him, acknowledging that Giles "found his hands were tied" at certain times while sharing the job with Flower, but that the attempt to divide the coaching workload had been worth trying.

"The idea behind it was good, to keep Andy involved. He couldn't have carried on as he was. We won some good cricket - India and the Ashes - so it did work in that sense but it is very hard to manage that situation because, as Ashley would say, he probably found his hands were tied. It was quite a big change. It was an experiment worth trying, but if you can find a guy with the energy to do all three forms it's a better way forward.

No decisions from Flower - Cook

  • Alastair Cook has said that he will continue use the counsel of Andy Flower as he evolves as a captain, but insisted that the former team director will have no impact on the decisions he and Peter Moores make in the rebuilding of the England team.
  • Flower, who quit in February, remains in ECB employment based at the National Academy in Loughborough where his role involves mentoring leaders and Cook has spoken to him in recent weeks.

  • "Me and him get on really well, we have been in contact over the last couple of months working on things with my captaincy and I think having him as an advisor on that is something he wants to do and I want to do," Cook said. "Me and Moorsey have to be totally clear on what we want to do and will steer the ship, Andy won't be making decisions behind our backs, but I will be using Andy as part of my leadership stuff."

"Giles is a very good guy and was desperate to become England coach. Unfortunately you have to make tough decisions as the leader of any company and Paul [Downton] has made that tough decision. I don't think you can say the players let Ashley down. We all got behind him, liked his methods, worked hard and enjoyed working under him. Peter has 16 years of coaching experience and has been successful and Paul thought it would be wrong to ignore that.

"I've got on really well with Peter, not only the time where he was England coach but we did quite a lot of work on the Academy together before that. I think he's a really good coach, a brilliant coach in fact, and a really good person."

Cook's captaincy has come in for some strong criticism - not just during the 5-0 Ashes whitewash - and Moores made clear reference to playing a new 'brand' of cricket. Cook insisted he will not make any radical personal changes, citing his success in India and last year's home Ashes as supporting evidence in his favour, but conceded that there is now a chance to start afresh.

"That would be wrong because it's not who I am," he said when asked if there will a new Alastair Cook on display. "The crucial thing is making good decisions on the field and off the field, and creating a culture and an image of an England cricket team which I will be proud of.

"We got outplayed totally in Australia so to blame it just on my captaincy would be slightly wrong. But I certainly think I inherited a side from Straussy and Flower, and now it does seem a bit of a clean break with the new head coach. So, to me, it is the start of it."

Quite what the new style of England will be is not yet clear, with Moores reluctant to talk in much detail on Friday - beyond mentions of pride and passion, which should be prerequisites in international sport - and Cook did not want to elaborate before having a chance to sit down together. An attempt to replicate Australia's playbook, which so overwhelmed England, appears unlikely (partly because of the lack of 90mph bowlers) although Cook conceded many lessons can be learned from how they transformed their fortunes.

"I think there's certainly a number of things they did very well as a side, and I think it would be wrong not to look at it and go 'yeah, they got the whole country behind them'. They did it to their strengths," he said.

"So there's no point us playing the way Australia played, because you need those kind of players to do it, and obviously Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke had to be given a lot of credit for recognising the strengths of their side and playing to their strengths, and we're going to have to look at our side and play to their strengths. I'm not going to bat like David Warner, no matter how many people want me to, that's not going to work."

Since returning from Australia, Cook has become a father with the birth of his daughter, Elsie, and while he used the word "perspective" he insisted there has been no dulling in his desire to embark on what could be a long rebirth for English cricket.

"Being a dad is the best thing you can do, it's very exciting, it's all new. You look at her and think of the life she will have in front of her, you just don't know, so you end up thinking more about her than yourself. But I also have a job to do which is one I'm very proud of and we have an opportunity now to try and start again and rebuild."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SamWintson92 on (April 23, 2014, 12:02 GMT)

1. There's an another way to take every weights off from the shoulder of Cook. The way is by sacking him from captaincy. He's a terrible captain. 2. I prefer Ian Bell as the test captain & Eoin Morgan as the ODI/T20I captain. 3. Any Eng article, I intend to write KEVIN PIETERSEN SHOULD BE BROUGHT BACK IN ENGLAND TEAM.

Posted by   on (April 23, 2014, 9:04 GMT)

A_Vacant_Slip The whole of England has started saying it then why not we?Do not think that Cook is performing his captaincy duties very well.It was one of the worst decisions to retire KP.And we had come to England in 2011 as a team of players who were going to retire and also with the world cup win nobody cared for that tour.And with the 2012 series win we were just building a team with Sachin out of form and planning to retire.Now that we have a balanced side we do not care about our overseas troubles.We just want to compete with the same rebuilding England side and try our best to win.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (April 22, 2014, 10:30 GMT)

@BigINDFan on (April 21, 2014, 20:27 GMT) Very funny you say "The issue is with Cook as a captain". I would say India fan issue with Cook is that he is such a good player. Remember - it was Cook who destroy India very comprehensively in India in last Test series in India. AND he will destroy India again in England in a few week time. All of India know and fear this - which is why so many Indian call for his head.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (April 22, 2014, 7:55 GMT)

Why is it all the indian fans are reciting shane warne's opinion about cook? Im an England fan & im happy with cook being captain, lets be honest here, he's only lost one series as captain.

Posted by Shah343 on (April 22, 2014, 2:02 GMT)

"I'm not going to bat like David Warner, no matter how many people want me to, that's not going to work." LOL i cannot believe he said that! Super Unprofessional really "no matter how many people want me to, that's not going to work." thats the first i have heard a player comparing to another teams player like that! Who demanded that anyway. Cook and warner are completely different seriously wwhy did say that! this shows that he has had enough of the TREMENDOUS PRESSURE

Posted by   on (April 22, 2014, 1:37 GMT)

No mention of Varun Chopra??

Posted by Rally_Windies on (April 21, 2014, 23:14 GMT)

A five year plan of revenge has come to fruition ! The entire thing is as clear as Day now ...

Flower and Broad were but Pawns, used to destroy KP .... Moore, through his pal Paul Downton, has always been in the plan to destroy KP ....

well played Sirs .. well played ....

Posted by BigINDFan on (April 21, 2014, 20:27 GMT)

It is good that Eng has one coach and no matter whether he is really good or average is not a big issue. The issue is with Cook as a captain. He needs to be sacked as his body language was horrible in Australia. So if Paul Downton can say KP was disengaged and sack him then Cook was no better in not inspiring his team. He needs to find his batting form and for that he should not focus on captaincy. Then the next step is to evaluate the talent pool for all 3 formats and pick the best team and reserves. Try them out giving opportunities and coaching and then reevaluate. A new captain and a new philosophy of enjoying cricket will help Eng be successful. Hopefully Trott comes back to a fun environment.

My vote for captain is Ian Bell for Tests and ODI. For T20 it should be Tim Bresnan. KP should be brought back to T20s and ODI teams but not Tests. Start fresh including the captain.

Posted by anuradea on (April 21, 2014, 20:12 GMT)

England needs a stronger captain who can get the best out of the seniors, if any left. How come what happened in the winter is all KP's fault??? Seems he is the only one who had to pay for the dismal winter. Did Anderson give away 30 in an over, and no other batsman got a 100 because of KP. And all the crucial catches were dropped by KP?? This is a big Joke. Already I see a disfunction as cooke is saying that he will not make drastic changes and Moore is saying he will play a different brand of cricket. It is great to have ideas, but where is Moores going to find the players to play his brand of cricket. All england seem to have is the run of the mill cricketers who are good at county level. Where are the Malinga, Mendises,perera's and Narines and may others who are unusual and exiting. This day and age you can not have batsmen who can only play in the V, and the bowlers who can bowl line and length, you need the unauthodox players who can score runs and take wickets.

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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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