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

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

  • Rizwan 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 .

  • Dummy4 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.

  • adeel 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 !

  • Jonathan 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.

  • sam 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! -:)

  • clair 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.

  • Alex 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.

  • Richard 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.

  • David 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.

  • John on June 27, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    Nice one, Alan, nice one, son.

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