England cricket June 27, 2014

The case for Cook's defence

Half a dozen reasons why Alastair Cook should keep padding away the king of Australian spin
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Alastair Cook has come in for a sustained barrage of criticism from Shane Warne over his Test captaincy, the latest calling for him to take a break from the game. ESPNcricinfo has come up with half a dozen reasons why Cook should keep padding away the king of Australian spin.

What would Warnie do?
Famously dismissive of authority figures - coaches being a method of transportation, etc - Warne spent most of his career doing just as he jolly well pleased. Would he listen to the advice of an ex-rival Pom conveyed via the medium of a newspaper column? He would more likely smoke it. The only way to earn Warne's respect is for Cook to flick him the metaphorical v's and continue to lead England in the most tactically inept manner possible.

It's in the blood(line)
While Warne was never trusted to captain Australia's Test side, due to his various colourful indiscretions, Cook was anointed for his current role long ago. In fact, as Giles Clarke has confirmed, Cook and his family are just the right sort of people for the England captaincy. This is something Warne, despite his previous connection to the British aristocracy through Elizabeth Hurley, could not possibly understand. Cook should not have to apologise for the privileges life has bestowed upon him; Warne's manifest jealousy as one of international cricket captaincy's have-nots is another reason to rise above it all.

Dig for victory
Some advise that, when life and its demands are getting on top of you, a break from it all will help clear the mind and refresh the body. Others take the view that rest is for sissies and keep on driving themselves into the ground with an increasingly relentless fervour. As the England cricket captain, and therefore one of society's exemplars, Cook should feel no compunction when it comes to denying there is a problem, stiffening his resolve and continuing to dig. "When you're going through Hell, keep going," said Churchill. Remember, a backward step is a greater sign of weakness than bowing to public opinion and putting another man in the slips.

Winning isn't everything
The English, and in particular the game of cricket, have always stood for the principles of fair play. The desire to win all the time is both ungentlemanly and morally suspect; indeed, Cook's recent record (P7 L6 W0) might be seen as merely a display of good manners, evening the ledger after an unseemly amount of success during his first year in charge. England's two Tests against Sri Lanka also provided a shot in the arm for the format, twice going down to the last few deliveries and resulting in one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of the game. If it requires a display of the "worst captaincy ever seen" to benefit the commonweal, well Cook is demonstrably the man for the job.

Nothing to see here
What does a captain do beyond calling the toss of a coin, anyway? Although, as Cook has won a statistically unimpressive nine in 23 Tests, perhaps Warne has a point on this one.

Don't trust the Aussie
Warne claims that his critique is implicitly honest, because if he were really playing Ashes mind games, he would want to keep Cook in the job until Australia's arrival next year. But, just as Warne was forever claiming to have invented deliveries that didn't exist, it seems fair to assume he is not above slipping in the odd reverse psychological googly (which, of course, goes the other other way). One of Warne's recent mantras has been about captains being "prepared to lose to win" and Cook has certainly become adept at the first part. Perhaps, as with Australia's upsurge after losing seven Tests out of nine before the 5-0 Ashes whitewash, England are on the brink of a similar bounce and Warne just doesn't want them to realise it. Ignore him Cookie, it's all going to plan!

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rizwan1981 on June 30, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan , I am no fan of Warne but , the man does have the ability to play mind games with the opposition . Once he managed to dismiss Mahanama by comparing him to a Sri Lankan Comedian - Warne greeted Mahanama by addressing him as Gajang Malli ( Malli means brother in Sinhalese ) .

    The only way England and Cook can win is by attacking Mitch Johnson and they need KP , Johnny BAIRSTOW and Carberry in the ranks .

  • on June 30, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    One of the things which I havent liked about Alistair Cook is that he has been very defensive rather than saying these are some of the problems which himself and his team has and the aplan to address he is always defending.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on June 30, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    @ Not_Another_Keybored_Expert and AshesErnie - agree with both of you.

    cook was wining games when he himself was batting well and he had KP to rise to the challenge.both these factors are missing now so his captaincy is the only thing that stands out. i feel cook is in catch 22 now, if he starts showing some 'imagination' then warne will be on his back and if he doesn't he still has warne on his back .. he needs to be himself and consult his senior players more since coach is not doing anything !

  • Balladeer on June 28, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    Far too many people taking this article seriously. Dear oh dear.

    Still, it's my thinking that Alistair, and most other people in the cricketing world (apart from spin bowlers, perhaps), should ignore Warne.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 28, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    Hilarious! But padding up to king of tweak is a dangerous thing to do, dont you think? Think A Strauss! -:)

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on June 28, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    I hope the line about the English standing for fair play is suppose to be a joke. The English are known for tactically bending the rules and a lot of times just plain breaking them, I could go on all day about substitute fielders, slow over rates and bowlers coming off straight after a spell but I would just be pointing out the obvious.

  • Alexk400 on June 28, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    Cook is a good leader even if he is not good captain. Team need leader not as much captain.

  • AshesErnie on June 27, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Warne has morphed from great bowler to pathetic, attention seeking twirp with consumate ease. He was probably the latter all his life, something that was hidden for a few years by his success as a cricketer.

  • cloudmess on June 27, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    Whatever Cook does he should ignore Warne (and also much of this facetious article). Just as Fred Trueman was dismissive about anyone who played successfully in the modern game, Warne is dismissive about anyone he considers his tactical inferior being asked to captain their country. The real problem here is not Cook, but the appointment of the Graeme Hick of coaches, Peter Moores - magisterial at county level, awkward and slightly out of his depth at international level. While Moores is in charge, confusing his players with clichéd, meaningless soundbites ("the judgement is in the game" etc) and general hot air, England will keep finding inventive ways to lose games.

  • landl47 on June 27, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    Nice one, Alan, nice one, son.

  • rizwan1981 on June 30, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan , I am no fan of Warne but , the man does have the ability to play mind games with the opposition . Once he managed to dismiss Mahanama by comparing him to a Sri Lankan Comedian - Warne greeted Mahanama by addressing him as Gajang Malli ( Malli means brother in Sinhalese ) .

    The only way England and Cook can win is by attacking Mitch Johnson and they need KP , Johnny BAIRSTOW and Carberry in the ranks .

  • on June 30, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    One of the things which I havent liked about Alistair Cook is that he has been very defensive rather than saying these are some of the problems which himself and his team has and the aplan to address he is always defending.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on June 30, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    @ Not_Another_Keybored_Expert and AshesErnie - agree with both of you.

    cook was wining games when he himself was batting well and he had KP to rise to the challenge.both these factors are missing now so his captaincy is the only thing that stands out. i feel cook is in catch 22 now, if he starts showing some 'imagination' then warne will be on his back and if he doesn't he still has warne on his back .. he needs to be himself and consult his senior players more since coach is not doing anything !

  • Balladeer on June 28, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    Far too many people taking this article seriously. Dear oh dear.

    Still, it's my thinking that Alistair, and most other people in the cricketing world (apart from spin bowlers, perhaps), should ignore Warne.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 28, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    Hilarious! But padding up to king of tweak is a dangerous thing to do, dont you think? Think A Strauss! -:)

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on June 28, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    I hope the line about the English standing for fair play is suppose to be a joke. The English are known for tactically bending the rules and a lot of times just plain breaking them, I could go on all day about substitute fielders, slow over rates and bowlers coming off straight after a spell but I would just be pointing out the obvious.

  • Alexk400 on June 28, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    Cook is a good leader even if he is not good captain. Team need leader not as much captain.

  • AshesErnie on June 27, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Warne has morphed from great bowler to pathetic, attention seeking twirp with consumate ease. He was probably the latter all his life, something that was hidden for a few years by his success as a cricketer.

  • cloudmess on June 27, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    Whatever Cook does he should ignore Warne (and also much of this facetious article). Just as Fred Trueman was dismissive about anyone who played successfully in the modern game, Warne is dismissive about anyone he considers his tactical inferior being asked to captain their country. The real problem here is not Cook, but the appointment of the Graeme Hick of coaches, Peter Moores - magisterial at county level, awkward and slightly out of his depth at international level. While Moores is in charge, confusing his players with clichéd, meaningless soundbites ("the judgement is in the game" etc) and general hot air, England will keep finding inventive ways to lose games.

  • landl47 on June 27, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    Nice one, Alan, nice one, son.

  • lebigfella on June 27, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    Not really unconvinced or convinced about the article being good or not good about whether or not Cook is a not good or a not bad captain...

  • VillageBlacksmith on June 27, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    I was against Cook after the last series but since i have read a bit from warne i now cdnt agree less… Carry on Cook! … whats warne doing over here anyway? Liz has flicked him the metaphorical v's so on yer bike warne plus you're not in the captains club so u have nothing of real relevance to say … its just mindless mind games, Cook's record for his age is the best in Eng cricket history so all eng fans should be behind him, come what may… and certainly not take any bs from an aussie.. do what u wanna do Chef… you are a great player and its the other players around you who must step up …

  • on June 27, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    The fact that cook and his family have been labelled "the right sort" by Giles Clarke shows the backward reasoning that the ECB operates on. You should be England captain based on your ability and performance, not the "sort" you are. In the past 9 months Cook has statistically shown less capability than any English captain in history. He should do English cricket a favour by resigning and, as Warne recommended, taking a rest.

  • on June 27, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    What an article... Cook should be pleased that there is something somewhere happening in retaliation to Warne's banters

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on June 27, 2014, 19:31 GMT

    so the English class system is still alive and going strong. Now the cricketing and captaining skills aren't enough, the background of the player is to be judged now. Cook is a soft captain, a safe choice by selectors who didn't have the guts to take a chance on someone with some real fight and aggression. And for Mr Gardner's information, Warne would have been a much better captain than Ricky. He succeeded everywhere he was captain. Ponting was found out as not up to being the skipper in personality, temperament and like Cook, always played it safe. And Ricky's background was not the good anyway

  • Nampally on June 27, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    Cook had several wins followed by few losses in the past 12 months- a record better than Strause & KP. The losses are mainly due to England being in the rebuilding phase after the loss of some key players like Swann, KP, Trot, amongst others. In addition , there are some aging fast bowlers - Broad & Anderson- more prone to injuries now. The new talent will take time to get used to playing as a team. Warne's outbursts are rather unproductive. The last Test which England lost to SL with just one ball to go, was due to dropped catches by England. Mathew's century was aided by few dropped catches in his partnership with Herath. This partnership was the turning point which put SL from a losing position to winning one. A Captain has no control over dropped catches!. Cook like many great batsmen is going thru' a lean Form himself. Even the First drawn SL Test was drawn due to bad luck- last wkt. held them at Bay! Warne does not name a replacement Captain for Cook- Criticism born out of ENVY?

  • SKapila on June 27, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    One of the best and funniest cricinfo articles I've read (no offense Mr. Zaltzman). But hopefully Cook and the England management get the serious message behind it

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on June 27, 2014, 17:31 GMT

    I agree with the author - ignore him Alastair. By the time you have worked out what Warne's Plan A is he will probably have moved on to Plan W anyway.

    My favourite theory in all of this is the "Pietersen paranoia" one: that somehow or other KP and his mates have magically manipulated the opinions of billions of cricket fans to achieve some secret agenda that nobody can really identify. Well why not blame KP (again)? After all it has got quite a number of people to where they are today.

  • jayray999 on June 27, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Ha, ha. For one crazy instant I thought this piece was serious but then I read, "...Cook and his family are just the right sort of people for the England captaincy." and later, "The desire to win all the time is both ungentlemanly and morally suspect." Poor Cook. Even articles in support appear to be taking lighthearted jabs in his direction.

  • stumpedlloyd on June 27, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    Come on, Alan. Winning isn't everything, I agree. But what Cook was doing on the 4th day at Headingley was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It was insanity. Displayed that he has no captaining nous. Cook points to the series wins in India and the test win in Sri Lanka, both remarkable achievements, albeit done without any real captaincy contributions from him. The Colombo test was won because He Who Shall Not Be Named, according to the ECB, played one of the best test innings and tore the Lankan attack apart. He also did the same against India, and Swann chipped in with wickets. The victories were not because of Cook's genius as a captain. Cook is a terrific player and probably should be kept in the squad for at least one more test to see if he scores something significant. But as a skipper, he is milquetoast at best.

  • tinkertinker on June 27, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    Shouldn't the english cricket media actually start doing their jobs and make their own judgement on cook?

    They seem to be taking the easy way out and making this all about the human headline shane warne but it isn't, talking about that is easy but giving your own opinion on cook seems beyond many in the english media.

  • glen1 on June 27, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    Warne should have asked Cook to exit after the India Series. India has a way of reviving people's careers; a sort of eastern rejuvenation. If India also defeats Cook & Co. in England, then it is time for Cook to leave and for sportswriters to give English cricket a holiday.

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  • glen1 on June 27, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    Warne should have asked Cook to exit after the India Series. India has a way of reviving people's careers; a sort of eastern rejuvenation. If India also defeats Cook & Co. in England, then it is time for Cook to leave and for sportswriters to give English cricket a holiday.

  • tinkertinker on June 27, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    Shouldn't the english cricket media actually start doing their jobs and make their own judgement on cook?

    They seem to be taking the easy way out and making this all about the human headline shane warne but it isn't, talking about that is easy but giving your own opinion on cook seems beyond many in the english media.

  • stumpedlloyd on June 27, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    Come on, Alan. Winning isn't everything, I agree. But what Cook was doing on the 4th day at Headingley was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It was insanity. Displayed that he has no captaining nous. Cook points to the series wins in India and the test win in Sri Lanka, both remarkable achievements, albeit done without any real captaincy contributions from him. The Colombo test was won because He Who Shall Not Be Named, according to the ECB, played one of the best test innings and tore the Lankan attack apart. He also did the same against India, and Swann chipped in with wickets. The victories were not because of Cook's genius as a captain. Cook is a terrific player and probably should be kept in the squad for at least one more test to see if he scores something significant. But as a skipper, he is milquetoast at best.

  • jayray999 on June 27, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Ha, ha. For one crazy instant I thought this piece was serious but then I read, "...Cook and his family are just the right sort of people for the England captaincy." and later, "The desire to win all the time is both ungentlemanly and morally suspect." Poor Cook. Even articles in support appear to be taking lighthearted jabs in his direction.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on June 27, 2014, 17:31 GMT

    I agree with the author - ignore him Alastair. By the time you have worked out what Warne's Plan A is he will probably have moved on to Plan W anyway.

    My favourite theory in all of this is the "Pietersen paranoia" one: that somehow or other KP and his mates have magically manipulated the opinions of billions of cricket fans to achieve some secret agenda that nobody can really identify. Well why not blame KP (again)? After all it has got quite a number of people to where they are today.

  • SKapila on June 27, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    One of the best and funniest cricinfo articles I've read (no offense Mr. Zaltzman). But hopefully Cook and the England management get the serious message behind it

  • Nampally on June 27, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    Cook had several wins followed by few losses in the past 12 months- a record better than Strause & KP. The losses are mainly due to England being in the rebuilding phase after the loss of some key players like Swann, KP, Trot, amongst others. In addition , there are some aging fast bowlers - Broad & Anderson- more prone to injuries now. The new talent will take time to get used to playing as a team. Warne's outbursts are rather unproductive. The last Test which England lost to SL with just one ball to go, was due to dropped catches by England. Mathew's century was aided by few dropped catches in his partnership with Herath. This partnership was the turning point which put SL from a losing position to winning one. A Captain has no control over dropped catches!. Cook like many great batsmen is going thru' a lean Form himself. Even the First drawn SL Test was drawn due to bad luck- last wkt. held them at Bay! Warne does not name a replacement Captain for Cook- Criticism born out of ENVY?

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on June 27, 2014, 19:31 GMT

    so the English class system is still alive and going strong. Now the cricketing and captaining skills aren't enough, the background of the player is to be judged now. Cook is a soft captain, a safe choice by selectors who didn't have the guts to take a chance on someone with some real fight and aggression. And for Mr Gardner's information, Warne would have been a much better captain than Ricky. He succeeded everywhere he was captain. Ponting was found out as not up to being the skipper in personality, temperament and like Cook, always played it safe. And Ricky's background was not the good anyway

  • on June 27, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    What an article... Cook should be pleased that there is something somewhere happening in retaliation to Warne's banters

  • on June 27, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    The fact that cook and his family have been labelled "the right sort" by Giles Clarke shows the backward reasoning that the ECB operates on. You should be England captain based on your ability and performance, not the "sort" you are. In the past 9 months Cook has statistically shown less capability than any English captain in history. He should do English cricket a favour by resigning and, as Warne recommended, taking a rest.