England news June 19, 2014

Cook rails at Warne criticism


Alastair Cook has called for "something to be done" about what he sees as personal attacks upon his ability as a captain by Shane Warne.

Warne, who has a column in the Telegraph and works as a pundit on Sky Sports, has been a persistent critic of Cook since he was appointed to the England Test captaincy at the end of 2012. Often describing him as "boring" and "negative", he even suggested Cook should be replaced by Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Swann ahead of the winter Ashes series.

Just as Warne used to test the patience and confidence of many England captains as a bowler, he has continued to trouble them as a pundit. While his recent criticism has been no more severe than normal, the repetitive nature of his comments - and he is nothing if not consistent - appears to have worn down Cook. The England captain finally snapped on Thursday in a radio interview with the BBC.

"Something needs to be done," Cook said, "because in three years I've been England captain I have just, in my eyes, been criticised for a hell of a lot of that.

"Yes, when we lose games of cricket as a captain you get criticised. But I've also won a lot of games cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain, won an Ashes, won in India away and that's what I'm proud of as well. So to be criticised for three years, totally, with those results, I find quite hard to take to be honest with you.

"Support and positivity is what this England team needs. The crowd at Lord's were brilliant, the public there were fantastic, got behind the lads and they really drove off it and a bit more support like that will hold everyone in good stead."

Asked whether he thought the criticism was personal and whether a century at Leeds, where England play Sri Lanka in the second Test, would change anything, Cook replied: "Yeah, I think it is [personal]. It probably won't change anything, which is sad."

Quite what Cook means by "something to be done" remains to be seen. The prospect of the ECB attempting to interfere in the editorial stance of independent media companies would surely be most unwelcome.

It is unlikely Warne will be discomforted by Cook's words. Indeed, he may delight in Cook's irritation. Warne's loyalty to Australia is never too far from the surface and there were times over the recent Ashes series when he appeared to be goading England to change the tactics that had served them well in the previous few years. The 'mental disintegration' he used to attempt on the pitch, he continues to deliver from behind a microphone. Cook will, at least, enjoy some respite in Leeds, as Warne is not part of the Sky team for the game.

And while Cook may win some sympathy from those who find it ironic that Warne accuses anyone of being boring - suffice it to say his commentary stints are remarkably consistent - his somewhat intemperate comments risk making him appear weak and defensive. This was an occasion when Cook might have been better advised to play with the straightest of bats.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ron on June 24, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    Sorry, but Cook is a boring captain. He is too predictable and lacks charisma. He is too professional.

  • Jaminda on June 24, 2014, 1:38 GMT

    Well said Warney ! You are correct - Cook is very immature.

  • ESPN on June 23, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    As always the comments tell a story. When your best defence against a charge of mediocrity is 'yeah but the other guy is worse', you start to worry. I mean, I may be a talentless hack - but I can still beat my grandad, so it's all good right?

  • Scott on June 23, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    @oscoli67, what a warped perception you have of that Oval test match. On day 4 Cook was given the opportunity to play on in the exact same conditions and declined. The reason being, had he bowled his spinners in the poor light, Clarke and Aus would undoubtedly have amassed enough runs to completely write England out of the match - considering as it was they didn't make the runs anyway. If you wish to look at time wasting and taking your beating, need only look at the English that afternoon messing with their laces every other over. Funny how you Poms manage to see that game as lost due to our time wasting whilst selectively forgetting it was your lot that wasted the previous day. It's rather comical really...

  • Ross on June 22, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    @oscoli67 - Declarations are only stupid if they directly contribute to a side's defeat - a la Flintoff in Adelaide. In Clarke's case even if the last pair had put on another 100 runs it wouldn't have changed the result. What might have changed it was an Indian collapse while there was still life in the pitch. Had that happened I suppose we'd all be agreeing with you that Clarke is a genius. I don't know about that but I do know that he thought outside the box in the face of apparently certain defeat so I suppose that does make him Rommelesque, as you say. Whatever happened at the Oval is not in the same league as Cardiff 2009 - not even close to the same league. Regarding where Clarke's record will head in the future, he has managed some fairly impressive results without Johnson's assistance but I dare say that if the back room chaos of the India & England tours is ever replicated. the mediocrity you fear will probably become a possibility. It just won't be dull.

  • Android on June 22, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Captain is as good as his team, but test cricket needs, attacking captain like Steve,Waugh who can declare to give bowlers enough chance and fielding placements.cook needs to be more attacking, he has to improve as captain

  • Neil on June 22, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    @ Ross_Co ... If you want to dress up Clarke's stupidity at Hyderabad as forward thinking innovation is a matter for you. The simple facts are that in 2075 test matches played before then, no captain had been quite so forward thinking or innovative. Your remarks would have us think he was a cricketing version of Erwin Rommell. The simple difference between Clarke in India & England and his last 2 series has been the performance of Johnson. Once Johnson fades into his previous mediocrity once more Clarke's results will no doubt follow. Have you forgotten your supposed genius' actions at the Oval? As a captain when you miscalculate your declaration you play the game & take your beating, not waste time & stand over the umpires..... sheer genius!!

  • John on June 22, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    @Potatis on (June 21, 2014, 23:53 GMT) Yes - but whichever way you look at it , it's exactly the same negative style captaincy that he is accusing Cook of.I agree with Warne and others but Warne then (when talking about Australia) says he'd do exactly the same sort of thing Cook would

  • Ross on June 22, 2014, 2:31 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha - "Test of a Thousand Gloves" excellent! That's the test I automatically think of every time 'England' whinges about anything. Their behavior in that test is also, unfortunately, what passes for their idea of innovation and creativity. That and pitch preparation. Oh for a modern Mike Brearley (with better batting skills) to match Clarke - that'd be a series for the ages.

  • Ross on June 22, 2014, 1:35 GMT

    @oscoli67 - Couldn't agree more. Cook would never attempt to retrieve a hopeless situation by trying something completely unexpected. You're right too about Warne being selective about who he criticises - he only ever seems to target the unimaginative and the dull. Tsk tsk.

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