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'Insular' England must reconnect with fans

ESPNcricinfo staff

May 3, 2014

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

It was another tough day in the field for Alastair Cook, Australia v England, 3rd ODI, Sydney, January 19, 2014
Alastair Cook was left with plenty to think about after England's chastening tour of Australia © Getty Images
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Alastair Cook, England's Test and ODI captain, has conceded that the team became "insular" and failed to build up a reserve of public goodwill despite a lengthy period of success. After a 5-0 Ashes whitewashing brought an end to Andy Flower's time in charge amid criticism of the team's attitude and style of play, Cook and the new head coach, Peter Moores, are set to embark on a period of rebuilding England's reputation on and off the field.

England went to Australia in search of a fourth consecutive Ashes victory but ended up losing almost every game on tour, as well as several key players. The home side were backed up by feverish support, as Australia united behind Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann in their attempts to regain the urn, and Cook picked up on that strength, echoing comments made by Moores in suggesting that England's new regime would be a more open and accessible one.

"Australia connected with their public very well," he said. "Maybe we became very insular as a side - it worked very well at some points for us but when it wasn't going well we didn't have anything to fall back on. The guys in the dressing room are good people, they are nice guys. The public don't see that enough. Hopefully we can copy Australia a little bit in the way they did it.

"We are very lucky - they [England fans] do support us through thick and thin. Just judging on since I have been back they have been very supportive, disappointed about Australia like we all were but hopefully we can reward them for that support now."

Cook's captaincy, which began with an historic victory in India and included leading England to a 3-0 win over Australia last summer, has also been subject to much scrutiny. Having sat out England's limited-overs trip to the West Indies and not been involved in a disappointing World T20 campaign, he will resume control in an ODI against Scotland on Friday, before the visits of Sri Lanka and India.

He has previously described the changes in the England set-up as providing a "clean break", intimating that now is the time to build a team in his own image rather than continuing to work along the lines established by Flower and his predecessor, Andrew Strauss, but Cook rejected theories that Flower was too controlling.

"I do disagree. What is written and what actually happened is not always accurate," he said. "Anyone who knows me knows I have an opinion and can be quite stubborn. Flower can also be quite stubborn. You are out there in the middle and you have to make decisions as a captain. Just because you consult other people doesn't mean you can't make your own decisions. You still have to make that final decision and are responsible for it."

Although Flower remains with the ECB in a development role, England's power axis now centres on Cook and Moores. Cook played under Moores during his first spell as England coach and the two have been getting reacquainted in between the early rounds of the Championship.

Moores was sacked in 2009 after falling out with Kevin Pietersen, England's captain at the time, and his style was felt to be overly prescriptive by senior players who had experienced success under Duncan Fletcher. Cook said he felt Moores was "harshly treated" at the end of his reign and was confident that the 51-year-old would not make the same mistakes again.

"The meetings with Peter have gone well," Cook said. "It was about getting to know Peter again and hammering out what he thought my values were and me asking him what his were and getting some middle ground, which wasn't too hard.

"He learned from last time and he will do things slightly differently. Five years extra coaching gives you extra experience. We all do things slightly differently but he's an energetic and enthusiastic guy who loves cricket and England. We've got to use that enthusiasm and drive.

"It was going well until the fall out - he'd only been in the job 18 months before the fall out and things changed. When you have grown up in one regime as a senior player and then a new guy comes in, it is difficult - Moores and Duncan Fletcher are obviously completely different guys and have different ideas."

England have cast admiring glances at the work of Stuart Lancaster with the rugby union side and Cook reiterated that they would be looked to as a source of inspiration. "Lessons should be learned from England rugby - huge credit to Stuart Lancaster and the guys for the way they have managed to change things," he said. "I imagine it's taken a hell of a lot of effort and work. But I think just the way they have gone about their business shows how they've improved. Everyone can see the development in their side."

Following the embarrassing defeat to Netherlands at the World T20, England cannot afford to look beyond next week's ODI in Aberdeen. However, the news that Matt Prior will miss Sussex's match against Lancashire beginning on Sunday due to his ongoing Achilles problem is unlikely to have aided planning for next month's first Sri Lanka Test. Jonny Bairstow, who replaced Prior as wicketkeeper in Melbourne and Sydney, is fit after breaking a finger and was named in Yorkshire's squad to face Durham.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 9, 2014, 13:08 GMT)

This has nothing to do with being Insular. Its all about:

1. The trashing of KP who scored more runs than anyone in the Oz debacle. 2. Utterly inept playing of Mitchell Johnson. 3. Ineffective troop of tall fast Bowlers. 4. Weak captaincy Expect more of the same folks.

Posted by iloveecb on (May 7, 2014, 15:28 GMT)

I've been desperate all winters for victory now I hope guys shine out there and win it against Sri Lanka!

Posted by disco_bob on (May 5, 2014, 12:18 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy, "defeat" is not really an adequate word to fully encompas the evisceration that was one of the most complete series anihilations ever. It did as much damage as 3 defeats on the trot (no pun intended)

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (May 5, 2014, 9:24 GMT)

@yorkshire 1 series defeat as captain by my reckoning, yea?

Posted by   on (May 5, 2014, 9:19 GMT)

It is surprising that mediocre player like Paul Downton sacks KP. Listening to Cook is just like listening to Bob Willis who always seems as if reading an obituary. Totally monotonous and devoid of any emotion. Perhaps ECB should listen to commentary themselves or read articles by Nasser, Vaughan. Anyway this being England summer; so probably we will see Cook and Bell scoring runs and Anderson back to being his best in familiar home conditions but then what? As soon as they will step out of UK same old doomed story. Broad is different but then now a days he is more unfit than being fit. Also burdened with captaincy. Reconnect is on.. but reconnecting to what? Fans havent forgotten how KP was treated and they still havent got their answers yet. The CURSE of KP will loom large on this ECB team & their mouth pieces. Thought Prior was different when he reached out to players but he showed he belongs to same pack. Flower took Eng team to new highs and now he is taking them down to new lows.

Posted by Jackaa on (May 5, 2014, 7:12 GMT)

For all the talk about "fresh" approach new brooms etc. the fact remains that England without KP do not have any batsmen with flair yes they can stay out in the middle for two hours and score 10 but that's where it ends. Batsmen with the ability to move things along like Carberry, Hales and Lumb are all left on the sidelines. It is going to be a long summer with, I fear, little success.

Posted by SoyQuearns on (May 5, 2014, 5:24 GMT)

Cont'd: Now I hope the English fans, who for the very briefest of periods enjoyed being smug on these forums, know what it is like for performance to be utterly annihilated.

Australia suffered greatly with the loss of 10+ world-class performers in the space of about 3 years (and who wouldn't have), however our period of total dominance was VERY lengthy (like, 2-decades-lengthy) and our low point did not include a 5-0 Ashes drubbing.

So you've had your embarrassingly short-lived fun in the sun, now you are back where you belong.

My words of advice are: measure your expectations. With the removal of KP you now have no batsmen who have any killer instinct or flair, your alleged 'bottomless pit' of depth has filled in rather quickly (Scott Borthwick and Simon Kerrigan anyone?) and frankly there is not much to write home about in terms of the overrated Root, the ridiculous Finn & the ageing and mediocre Anderson.

Broad is the only one with guts and flair, he can't do it alone though.

Posted by SoyQuearns on (May 5, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

Time for English cricket and its fans to face facts - England are horrible again and will be for the next 1-2 years.

Cook is a terrible leader - he's very defensive, is reactive with his field settings and is unwilling to take any risks, which is why the English team have (rightly) earned that 'paint-dryingly boring' reputation.

Cook is a reasonable opener, though has been in poor form for almost a year now. I thought Carberry looked the goods, he had some ticker (let's measure things - England got absolutely slaughtered by the superior-in-every-facet Australian lineup, but Carberry at least occupied some crease time).

Bell was back to his old self, Anderson was utterly dreadful (or, more aptly, was exactly what he is, his 30+ Test average affirming that neatly).

The less said about Swann and Trott the better.

Posted by Chris1881 on (May 4, 2014, 17:47 GMT)

I can't understand Cook@s mgmt speak guff, so why should the players? Looking forward to a summer when the fans can tell the 'Moores/Cook power axis' what they think of them.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (May 4, 2014, 16:55 GMT)

@redandwhitearmy - As captain yes. He is perfectly cabable of adding to his haul of centuries back in the ranks, where he belongs

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