June 28, 2014

England and the age of denial

When a player like Alastair Cook fronts the press so often, spinning a contrived message is the only option, especially when vulnerable
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If Alastair Cook thinks it's time to quit, he must do so with his head held high
If Alastair Cook thinks it's time to quit, he must do so with his head held high © Getty Images

Late on day four in Leeds, Mahela Jayawardene walked in to play the fourth session of the day. Of course, I am referring to the now-mandatory press conference, officiated by the fourth estate.

The Sri Lankan great was buoyant, defiant, softly spoken as always, and yet aggressive in his intent. He attacked Alastair Cook and England, virtually declaring the game over. He represented a smarting underdog about to create history. Sri Lanka had faced a bit of adversity and stick from England, and in emphatic style Mahela decided, while faced with thirsty journos, to deliver one more rousing knock.

The press conference has now become a part of every Test match day. It's a real treat if you are a journo to hear a player go off and attack someone. Remember the ugly tones from David Warner last November? One assumes it makes for a change from the normal spin that is pre-prepared and boringly delivered.

Mainly the fourth session is a time for the controlled, much-consulted-on public-relations spin, or the typical standard answers that are delivered day after day, match after match, by officials, captains, coaches and designated players.

These days the press conference is as common as lunch and tea during a Test match day. It's a silly game beyond the boundary. Yet unlike the play in the middle, which is adding to the history of the sport, the press conference, much like lunch, can be absolute contrived fodder. Or as Mahela cooked up, it can be just what the fourth estate is praying for. Apart from before and after the Test, why on earth, may I ask, would you need a press conference at all?

This over-indulgence is putting the players too often in a state where spinning a contrived message is the only option, especially when they are vulnerable. Take Cook, following the most extraordinary loss off the penultimate ball, who instead of offering deep insights about the state he was in after another stressful emotional week, slipped into filtered mode and provided the following almost predictable spiel:

"I have never quit on anything, always given my all, in every one of my 104 Tests. Sometimes I have done well, sometimes I haven't. It's the same situation here, and until someone tells me I am no longer captain, I am still here. I have got to work incredibly hard over the next ten days."

Whereas, if he didn't have to front the press so often and so fruitlessly, he might have been encouraged to say, "We have failed to produce the right result, end of story, and I, as the captain, am responsible for that. I need to get home and think what it is I am truly creating as captain, as it's slowly getting worse in achieving results, which are all that matter. Right now, at game's end, is not the right time to resign. But rest assured, I will return home and consider everything."

If Alastair gives himself up as cooked after a time for reflection, then give Joe Root the captaincy. Following his double-century and his continued improvement, Root is the very man to sow the seed for the long-term future

He might have gone on and said, "As I honestly displayed before this Test, I have things on my mind, and those distractions are influencing the way I am batting and leading. I have underestimated the last nine months and the effect they have had on my need to clear my mind, in order to play to my ability, and to lead this team in its hour of need. The next few days are vitally important for me to work out what is best for me and for the team. Good night, and no further questions please."

Instead, as he feels it is now part of the daily ritual and duty, he pored over the positives as they all do, and said he felt England had won eight days out of ten. All the while, the scribes in that room were probably thinking, "Alastair, you lost. Sri Lanka, led by a more inspiring leader, won the pressure moments, the important sessions, and with it the series. Oh, and your tactics on day four were up there with some of the worst ever. But we do appreciate all the extra copy you have provided."

On to the issue of the day. Quitting, resigning, stepping down, handing over are all the same thing no matter how you spin it. The only consideration is whether it's time to move aside for someone who has a clearer, more decisive vision, and if it is, then that clearly is the right thing to do. Why wait for it to get worse? Why wait to be sacked? There is absolutely no shame in standing down at all. There are dozens of examples throughout history when it is needed and has been done with honour.

It doesn't need to descend into the sort of tear-fest that closed Kim Hughes' rein. No, it can easily be done just the way Beefy did it on the balcony at Lord's, swiftly and with his head up, handing it over to the next one deemed to have a better feel for the moment, so he could get back to being the match-winner he was. Or recently, the way Andrew Strauss did it, knowing when his time was finally up. I'm not preaching without personal experience; I handed it over after only 16 Tests in charge, as the writing was on the wall. Stubbornness is not a worthy attribute.

With so much fronting up to the fourth estate, the overspin is getting in the way of identifying the real problem and finding the right answer. Trying to get through all these extra media sessions without giving too much away only creates the impression that too many players are in denial about the reality of the situation.

These are extraordinary times and therefore there are calls for drastic action. By next week, Cook should know what he must do. In that moment, he may well be happy to carry on. If so, hats off. But serious changes need to be made, otherwise a different opposition is not going to make one jot of difference.

Quite possibly, India might not be the best team for England to play against right now, for with a talented, spirited bunch, led by an inspired MS Dhoni, they are out to prove their own worth following a significant period of admiring a few true greats carrying the torch. India look ripe to unleash hell if England don't buck up quick.

If Alastair gives himself up as cooked after a time for reflection, then give Joe Root the captaincy. Following his double-century and his continued improvement, Root is the very man to sow the seed for the long-term future. It's bold and it's also a no-brainer. It worked for Graeme Smith and Stephen Fleming at a similar age and there is no reason why it won't work for Joe Root as well. It could be a welcome epiphany.

England, you are in a hole you aren't quite admitting to. Yet it's not due to the fine young, brave soldiers firing strongly in their early exchanges in the heat of the battle. Root, Robson, Ballance and Ali are showing resilience to the task. Continue that theme and promote Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes right now, replacing Prior and Jordan. In the meantime, Peter Moores must urge Cook to get forward and Bell to bat long, and Broad, Plunkett and Anderson to bowl five-over spells.

And let Moeen Ali provide much more of the real spin we prefer to enjoy.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricket_theBestGame on July 1, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    i agree. cook should step down and 'get back to basics' as the tug of waugh would say !

    eng need to let prior go as he has been given ample chances. root may just be the captain they require, but will his baby face demand the respect a captain requires?? guys like graeme smith, stephen fleming were towering figures. they demanded respect from their physical attributes as well as personality. so root i don't think is the answer. bell is another candidate but same issue as root. too soft a personality. come to think of it cook himself falls in that category.

    they could go back to KP if they are smart..ooops ...there is said the KP word !

  • shabmost on June 30, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    I disagree with Martin on throwing the captaincy to Joe Root who has not yet demonstrated any leadership influence on the field, and tends to struggle to maintain the consistency with his footwork and timing. The thing I appreciate about him though is his resilience against being dropped off from the squad - which shows he needs to purely focus on his own game and learn how to perform under pressure. Any extra burden will wear him down, let alone captaincy. Cook, Bell and Root are gentle in nature, all extremely likable people, but generally not proven as good "influencers" on the field i.e. being able to bring the best from own self and/or others under pressure and change the fortunes of games in their team's favour more often than not. If ECB continues with Cook any further, or replaces him with either Bell or Root, then their mistakes will pile up even more, and will rise up to the monumental proportion.

  • Sexysteven on June 30, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    Yea that's England issue no obvious candidate to replace cook as captain but tis almost at the point where anyone is worth ago cos the tactics and leadership ain't going to better under cooks captaincy even though they should beat India if that happens that should hide or paper over the cracks and problems with cooks captaincy they will still be there when they head away over the English winter but I guarantee that's what will happen if they beat India Cook will say told u I'm the man for the job we r back on track now which we all know will be totally rubbish

  • on June 30, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    I am reminded of Campus time slogans written on doors of residential quarters mostly of final year students cramming for the exam..... Get out before you get kicked out If you have nothing to do don't do it here Thanks for going

  • Deuce03 on June 29, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    It seems to me there is something poisonous about the England captaincy - and the England captaincy moreso than others. The story is always the same: the obvious candidate, usually the best batsman, is appointed, there is an initial period of success, followed by a prolonged trough in the captain's form leading to people questioning their place in the side, gradual diminution of morale, and ultimately an ignominious end driven by the media. It happened to characters as disparate as Hussain, Vaughan, Flintoff, Strauss, now it's happening to Cook and it would have happened to Pietersen if he hadn't been sacked. Every captain this century to have served any sort of time in the job. I don't see why it won't repeat itself with Joe Root or Ian Bell or Stuart Broad or whoever was appointed to take Cook's place.

    It seems there's a problem with the job, or the perception of the job, or something, rather than with any particular individual captain.

  • WalkingWicket11 on June 29, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    Why does everyone panic so much, when the end of England's miseries is just round the corner? The Indians have a long tradition of bringing struggling players back in form, and helping them extend their careers from the verge of being dropped. How often do you see a team try to SAVE a Test match after setting a target of 458, and then almost LOSE the game?

    Keep calm, and have faith in the Indians. Just a couple of months from now, India would have lost 0-5, handed Cook, Bell, etc. one or two hundreds each, and maybe a few double and triple hundreds, given away at least a five-for to each of England's main bowlers and maybe to some part timers as well.

    Then everyone would go head over heels praising England as the best team in the history of the universe, Cook as the next best batsman after Bradman, and so on. Long story short, don't panic as long as Indians are here to save the day.

  • cheguramana on June 29, 2014, 14:20 GMT

    "India look ripe to unleash hell" ?? wow, where did that come from Martin ? India is hardly in a position to unleash anything. With the kind of bowling attack India has, a 5 Test Series is at least 2 too many. The batsmen may stl do well, but there is very little likelihood of India winning the series. Cook shud hang on, there is every chance that he wl regain form and confidence, playing Indian bowling.

  • naamprik on June 29, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    Excellent article Martin, as we come to expect from you. It's a great shame that there are so many apologists for Cook and English Cricket in general. Just watched Cricket Writers on TV and it was much of the same. All trying to find positives without being really honest about the negatives. A decisive captain would not have let SL get back into such a strong position - Cook virtually gave up on day 4. The problem England have is that there is no obvious replacement, but I would suggest giving Broad a go, if his body is up to it. He is at least aggressive and not afraid to make decisions. Despite losing, he has done a reasonable job with the T20 side. This would give time to groom someone like Root for the job in the longer term. Perhaps without the captaincy Cook might regain his batting form. I think the comparison between Beefy and MC, compared to Cook is a good one. Both knew when to leave. Thanks again for a refreshing article.

  • Kavum on June 29, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    With all due respect, MD Crowe, you are talking 1990's language. Mahela's intervention was contrived, engineered and designed to put the wind up Eng's last 5 batters. It almost didn't work but eventually it did. Cricket is now inextricably linked with media, betting (official and less so), and all the accoutrements of western social culture. See it in that context, and you also may have an epiphany. I'd bet MSD and India would salivate at the prospect of a Root-led Eng side. Weepy boy Anderson has forever lost his edge as a bowler. Broad is average right now. Plunkett, Finn and any other county bowler could do as well or better. Dobell like Confucius say: the doorbell is ringing for Moeen. Go well, son!

  • creekeetman on June 29, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    good article.. spot on, except root doesn't strike me as being controlled enough just yet, if at all, to be captain. he seemed disturbed when angelo and co had a go at him on the final day, eventually losing his wicket. I would rather see broad take over for a while until a long term captain puts his hand up. at least this would give cook a chance to do what he does best.. score runs at the top of the order. broad is also naturally a more aggressive character, and I think England could use some proper aggression, especially with field placing, declarations, and overall attitude.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on July 1, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    i agree. cook should step down and 'get back to basics' as the tug of waugh would say !

    eng need to let prior go as he has been given ample chances. root may just be the captain they require, but will his baby face demand the respect a captain requires?? guys like graeme smith, stephen fleming were towering figures. they demanded respect from their physical attributes as well as personality. so root i don't think is the answer. bell is another candidate but same issue as root. too soft a personality. come to think of it cook himself falls in that category.

    they could go back to KP if they are smart..ooops ...there is said the KP word !

  • shabmost on June 30, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    I disagree with Martin on throwing the captaincy to Joe Root who has not yet demonstrated any leadership influence on the field, and tends to struggle to maintain the consistency with his footwork and timing. The thing I appreciate about him though is his resilience against being dropped off from the squad - which shows he needs to purely focus on his own game and learn how to perform under pressure. Any extra burden will wear him down, let alone captaincy. Cook, Bell and Root are gentle in nature, all extremely likable people, but generally not proven as good "influencers" on the field i.e. being able to bring the best from own self and/or others under pressure and change the fortunes of games in their team's favour more often than not. If ECB continues with Cook any further, or replaces him with either Bell or Root, then their mistakes will pile up even more, and will rise up to the monumental proportion.

  • Sexysteven on June 30, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    Yea that's England issue no obvious candidate to replace cook as captain but tis almost at the point where anyone is worth ago cos the tactics and leadership ain't going to better under cooks captaincy even though they should beat India if that happens that should hide or paper over the cracks and problems with cooks captaincy they will still be there when they head away over the English winter but I guarantee that's what will happen if they beat India Cook will say told u I'm the man for the job we r back on track now which we all know will be totally rubbish

  • on June 30, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    I am reminded of Campus time slogans written on doors of residential quarters mostly of final year students cramming for the exam..... Get out before you get kicked out If you have nothing to do don't do it here Thanks for going

  • Deuce03 on June 29, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    It seems to me there is something poisonous about the England captaincy - and the England captaincy moreso than others. The story is always the same: the obvious candidate, usually the best batsman, is appointed, there is an initial period of success, followed by a prolonged trough in the captain's form leading to people questioning their place in the side, gradual diminution of morale, and ultimately an ignominious end driven by the media. It happened to characters as disparate as Hussain, Vaughan, Flintoff, Strauss, now it's happening to Cook and it would have happened to Pietersen if he hadn't been sacked. Every captain this century to have served any sort of time in the job. I don't see why it won't repeat itself with Joe Root or Ian Bell or Stuart Broad or whoever was appointed to take Cook's place.

    It seems there's a problem with the job, or the perception of the job, or something, rather than with any particular individual captain.

  • WalkingWicket11 on June 29, 2014, 16:31 GMT

    Why does everyone panic so much, when the end of England's miseries is just round the corner? The Indians have a long tradition of bringing struggling players back in form, and helping them extend their careers from the verge of being dropped. How often do you see a team try to SAVE a Test match after setting a target of 458, and then almost LOSE the game?

    Keep calm, and have faith in the Indians. Just a couple of months from now, India would have lost 0-5, handed Cook, Bell, etc. one or two hundreds each, and maybe a few double and triple hundreds, given away at least a five-for to each of England's main bowlers and maybe to some part timers as well.

    Then everyone would go head over heels praising England as the best team in the history of the universe, Cook as the next best batsman after Bradman, and so on. Long story short, don't panic as long as Indians are here to save the day.

  • cheguramana on June 29, 2014, 14:20 GMT

    "India look ripe to unleash hell" ?? wow, where did that come from Martin ? India is hardly in a position to unleash anything. With the kind of bowling attack India has, a 5 Test Series is at least 2 too many. The batsmen may stl do well, but there is very little likelihood of India winning the series. Cook shud hang on, there is every chance that he wl regain form and confidence, playing Indian bowling.

  • naamprik on June 29, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    Excellent article Martin, as we come to expect from you. It's a great shame that there are so many apologists for Cook and English Cricket in general. Just watched Cricket Writers on TV and it was much of the same. All trying to find positives without being really honest about the negatives. A decisive captain would not have let SL get back into such a strong position - Cook virtually gave up on day 4. The problem England have is that there is no obvious replacement, but I would suggest giving Broad a go, if his body is up to it. He is at least aggressive and not afraid to make decisions. Despite losing, he has done a reasonable job with the T20 side. This would give time to groom someone like Root for the job in the longer term. Perhaps without the captaincy Cook might regain his batting form. I think the comparison between Beefy and MC, compared to Cook is a good one. Both knew when to leave. Thanks again for a refreshing article.

  • Kavum on June 29, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    With all due respect, MD Crowe, you are talking 1990's language. Mahela's intervention was contrived, engineered and designed to put the wind up Eng's last 5 batters. It almost didn't work but eventually it did. Cricket is now inextricably linked with media, betting (official and less so), and all the accoutrements of western social culture. See it in that context, and you also may have an epiphany. I'd bet MSD and India would salivate at the prospect of a Root-led Eng side. Weepy boy Anderson has forever lost his edge as a bowler. Broad is average right now. Plunkett, Finn and any other county bowler could do as well or better. Dobell like Confucius say: the doorbell is ringing for Moeen. Go well, son!

  • creekeetman on June 29, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    good article.. spot on, except root doesn't strike me as being controlled enough just yet, if at all, to be captain. he seemed disturbed when angelo and co had a go at him on the final day, eventually losing his wicket. I would rather see broad take over for a while until a long term captain puts his hand up. at least this would give cook a chance to do what he does best.. score runs at the top of the order. broad is also naturally a more aggressive character, and I think England could use some proper aggression, especially with field placing, declarations, and overall attitude.

  • landl47 on June 29, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    What's worrying about Cook is that he doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes (except perhaps in the way his namesake Peter Cook quipped, in order to be able to repeat them). He's still giving his bowlers 8-10 over spells even when they aren't getting wickets. He's still much too ready to defend in the field. He's still letting the game drift and hoping that something will happen instead of trying to find ways of making it happen. His communication with his bowlers is still poor (they all knew that the ball had to be pitched up, yet when they bowled short he wasn't in their ear letting them know they weren't following the plan). He still seems very uninventive in his decision making.

    Personally I'd bring in Stokes for Broad, who doesn't look fully fit, and Foster for Prior because neither Buttler's batting nor his keeping is test class yet. I would certainly agree with 5-over (or less) spells. And Cook needs to sort out his own technique.

    Other than that, everything's fine.

  • on June 29, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    As obvious as it is that Cook should relinquish the captaincy, he, like most knowledgeable cricket fans, knows that this series against India is his best chance to repair the broken boat. Much like Cook, MSD is a highly uninspiring test match captain and his overseas record speaks for itself. As a test batsman, the less we say the better. I don't even want to get started on the Indian bowling attack. All in all, looks like Cook is nearly at the end of the tunnel. He can definitely cling on to it for some more months after the India series is done.

  • Sir_Francis on June 29, 2014, 1:05 GMT

    Part of Cook's alleged deficiencies are tactical awareness. Is their evidence Root is any better? Has he ever captained any team for an extended time?

    Who is regarded as the best County captain and can he perform at Test level? If there is someone like that he may be a better option.

  • cloudmess on June 29, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    The whole England set-up are in denial about a number of things. And yet still no-one is questioning the political appointment of a second rate coach.

  • neil99 on June 28, 2014, 23:00 GMT

    The problem we have is Cook thinks he's the right man off the job when clearly his man management, media skills and on field tactics are well below what's required. This is compounded by the ECB, who having groomed Cook as the next a England captain so long ago, haven't the balls to admit they got it wrong.

    Brace yourselves for some disappointing results. We're in for a bumpy time ahead folks...

  • DipsoManiac on June 28, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    Very well put by Steve and southstoke49.This is going to be a terrible series if you are looking for a tactical master class in captaincy.Both Dhoni and Cook as test captains are known to go on the back foot and set defensive fields at the slightest hint of aggression by the opposition.Both captains are going to take the safer option first when game is in the balance.England is going to score heavily against Indian seam attack,especially the lower middle order as Dhoni gets really defensive once opposition has lost 4-5 wickets.It's also going to be a good opportunity for English top order to get in form,especially Cook,given Dhoni's lack of confidence in his bowlers and inability to back them both on field and in public.Runs on board will help Cook stay positive and not retreat into setting too defensive fields.this series is between two young teams,both looking to win in spite of their uninspiring captains.i hope one team loses badly so at least 1 of those captains looses the job!

  • on June 28, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    I think India is a good send for cook and England right now. India has a history of bringing players back to form. I respect Martin Crowe and agree with him entirely except the spirited Indian team and MS Dhoni part. MS Dhoni is in the same mould as cook as far as test captaincy is concerned; uninspiring and defensive captain.

    I predict 3-0 result with England on top. And I am an Indian.

  • Biggus on June 28, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    @Nutcutlet:- That's as good an assessment of the situation as I've seen. My sentiments exactly, Cook's a nice guy and all but he just doesn't have that 'edge' that all great captains seem to have. Much as the talking heads came out in the NZ series with the 'Tactics Vindicated' line their support for Cook is now set in stone and will stay that way until denial is impossible even for the ECB. Even as an Aussie I feel no satisfaction at Cook's discomfort. I don't want to see him humiliated and broken but unless something gives (I guess the ECB is hoping for a Lazarus effort Vs India. They would have been hoping for that Vs SL) it seems that this affair is going to run through to a truly Shakespearean end.

  • on June 28, 2014, 19:17 GMT

    England are blooding too many young players at once. 6 players with less than a years test cricket at the same time.

    Australia, weren't afraid to blood players aged 30 or even over 34 for a first crack. That always seemed a better idea to me.

    Maybe testing a raft of young guns at once would work if the old pro's were on top of their game. But they aren't, and it might be those young players thrown into this bad environment that suffer the most long term.

    With a coach with an established record of failure at test level and a captain that looks like he'd rather be anywhere else, leading a team of shell shocked seniors England's future looks bleak. It's almost not an exaggeration to say that Prior, like Trott looks like someone with PTSD, and Broad looking like he's bowling 82mph because to push harder would break him.

    England need a good opener, they need a front line spinner, they need a keeper who does not seem shell shocked, they need pace bowlers who commit to each delivery.

  • danmcb on June 28, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    Given the way England have treated certain members of the side recently, it's hard to have much respect or sympathy for them at the moment. Integrity is a big deal, and the ones you meet on the way up are the same ones you meet on the way down.

  • py0alb on June 28, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    Cook needs to go back to county cricket and try to remember which foot is which.

  • henchart on June 28, 2014, 15:29 GMT

    With the bowling attack Indians have brought to UK,Cook ,Bell and Root can be expected to make up for the misery suffered down under .

  • on June 28, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    Dear cook. please let go of the captaincy as you are not the right person for the job. Be the specialist batsman we all remember. cook the wall. cook the guy who can score 100 test centuries. by holding on to the captaincy, you are going to lose your spot in the team as a batsman. pitty

  • on June 28, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    100% in agreement that Cook must go as Skipper

  • nareshgb1 on June 28, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    "India look ripe to unleash hell" - hilarious. We saw that against the second grade Leics team with self -appointed "spear-head" Ishant.

    No worries for Cook really - he will make a mountain against this Indian attack.

  • ruester on June 28, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    It is easy to captain a side with world class talent, performing to their best ability. The true test of a captain is when things are going badly, unfortunately for Cook, he seems to be found wanting. He has made some horrendous decisions on and off the field. His management and ultimate career ending of KP, highlighted his poor leadership skills off the field. His tactics on the field in the Sri Lanka series where frankly embarrassing. Not attempting to get Mathews out on the fourth morning was probably the worst but I could list a whole range of decisions which were very questionable. Former England captains and greats where all critising him, they have years of experience behind them so they do actually know what they are talking about. Cook needs to do what's best for the team, step aside and justify his place in the side by scoring mountains of runs. As a captain I don't think his team mates, experts, fans believe he can turn around England's fortunes.

  • steve48 on June 28, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    Excellent post by southstoke 49. Problem was nobody saw the implosion coming, whether it be Swann's elbow, Trott's health, the effects on Jimmy and SB of carrying a 4 bowler attack for so long, and of course what to do about Kevin! Not sure what happened to Prior, but all the other problems were detectable, and needed to be dealt with one at a time. Cook is as described in southstoke's post, but to top it all off, he has struggled to cope with all these problems, as batsman, captain, and increasingly as a person; how many of our dressing room for that second test sat there thinking " what was all that about Warney? Are you ok, skip?"

  • Sanjana_p on June 28, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Well MSD is not a great test player or test captain like some have mentioned (nay almost all) But he might want to change a few things about that. Now is that wrong too? Or he should stay like this forever? I guess thats a fair enough view too. And if he does that,(IF he does that) whats wrong if there is some eulogies by the media/players/experts related to that! After all, he is tremendously respected outside India too. In fact, he is more fiercely criticised inside india than abroad. Look , we as indian fans are thirsty for overseas wins. It doesnt matter if England is gloomy or not, we just need it! As for people screaming that India is weak weak...oh ive heard that just as the ICC trophies were starting (the world cup, knockout cup and the 20 20 cup too)..we did win/reach the finals each time. Dont give me this is test, this is that. We'll see about that. So ive heard that, its just a joke for me. Wonder where those people were after the win!

  • on June 28, 2014, 12:58 GMT

    England have done remarkably well recovering from such a poor winter of cricket. They have introduced a number of new players and should continue to build for the new era.

    My 12 players for England this summer would be as follows:

    Robson Ali Balance Root Stokes Bairstrow Ansari Plunkett Jordan Borthwick Bresnan Buck

    I would want the likes of Bell, Broad and Cook to play county cricket and pick up there form. Otherwise we should be positive as things are on the up for English cricket.

  • on June 28, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    A brilliant article by a very cluey man.

  • 12thUmpire on June 28, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Belly can open the innings; He has done it for Warwickshire. Bopara or Stokes can produce all the runs expected from Cook, who actually scored 3 more runs than Broad in the just concluded series.

    Captain Cook was a daring adventurer, unfortunately killed in Hawaii!

  • HemDias on June 28, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    I don't know why and what the English establishment and Alistair Cook is worrying about. There was a test captain called Clive Lloyd who lost 5 tests in a series in Australia and did not score a test century for 3 years (1977-80). But he was one of the finest batsmen and test captains his country has ever produced.

  • LeeHallam on June 28, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    I do find that I look forward to what Martin Crowe has to say more than any other ex-player. He is right to say that there is nothing wrong with quitting if there is no way forward, and you are not up to it any more. There is no great honour in waiting to be sacked. Alistair needs to be honest with himself, can he do it? are there others who deep down think can do it better. He should speak to Nasser Hussain, who made that decision twice. If he carries on it will be with the knowledge that he could not survive a defeat against India. As for successors, it is too soon for Root. So from the existing team team it would have to be Bell or Broad. I am tempted by the idea of a short term fix with Foster or Read as a keeper/captain to take us through to the end of the next Ashes.

  • southstoke49 on June 28, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Cook is a great captain although one in a different time and place with a different team. The plan was for the Ashes to be retained and him to continue to develop slowly with the familiar faces around him (such as Swann, Trott & KP) until Flower relinquished the reigns to Giles with new players starting to become established. If this had happened he would have been successfull. Strauss was somewhat conservative and Cook was groomed as a seamless takeover from that style. Unfortunately Australia blew all that apart.

    Now they need someone who is not still learning, able to still play to their potential, be a dynamic man manager and a good tactition to allow for shortcomings of new personnel. This is the antithesis of Cook. So far his form has suffered, he has bottled any tricky management issues (KP) and his tactics fall apart when any pressure is applied. Sadly as the ECB have staked all on Cook until absolute bottom has been reached they will not change soon or admit a plan B.

  • static1812 on June 28, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    From a performance point of view I think the suggestions are a little too influenced by very recent performance (Stokes for Jordan for instance), but absolutely agree that a team build of people performing as well as the recent additions to the squad we'd be in a strong position. The thing holding us back might be the speed with which we dare get the rest of the good young prospects into the team. From a management / leadership point of view I think it's spot on. All the media training in the world can't make you appear authentic. A lot of the dull press conference stuff doesn't start with the players, but with a press which is looking for a story or conflict rather than reporting accurately situation.

  • Herath-UK on June 28, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    I disagree with you in that'india might not be the best team to play against right now' because I think it is the best to play against probably a blessing for Cook at last. If you reflect how England started the series with an ODI win at the Oval in a triumphant way,the basics were there but it was Sri Lanka's superb fight back from Durham onwards which took the wind out of the sails. When Sri Lanka lost last time 1/0 to England, India came in the summer & lost 4/0.So there is proven history England can take heart (with also win in India itself). If Cook can make a decent score,he will bounce back as a captain too & who is more than the weak indian seamers to provide it so generously.

  • liz1558 on June 28, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    Good points raised. One of the biggest differences between Cook and Vaughan, Graeme Smith and Strauss, is that the end of their captaincy careers signalled the end of their careers with immediate effect. Captaincy defined each of those players in a way that it hasn't for Cook. Cook, if he resigns or is dismissed, will have to go back to the ranks. That's a huge humiliation to deal with. The expectation was that England could build their long term future around his leadership. This has palpably failed, and Crowe is right; India will beat England under Cook; Anderson and Broad will be bowled into early retirement. And the last man standing will be Cook, still insisting that he's the right man for the job.

  • steve48 on June 28, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    3 things I didn't agree with, Martin; 1. Joe Root for captain. I have rarely seen a young player who so upsets the opposition! I know GS was very brash too, but a team in our state of transition can do without inspiring opponents! 2. Moeen should, and can only, show us his joy of spin if he is first selected as a top order batsman / second spinner. That is what he is, and from that Headingly innings, what a batsman he is, personally think him better than Robson, Ballance or indeed Root in potential. 3. There is nothing inspired about MSD as a test captain! I am dreading a summer of eulogies by all media to this man; great limited over finisher, good if sometimes quirky limited overs captain, decent keeper but not the best in India, useful test lower middle order batsman, with questionable dedication in that form of the game. Can anyone fault this description of MSD? If not, won't you also get fed up of hearing about how cool, charismatic and awesome he is for a whole summer?!

  • Puffin on June 28, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    The more I see and hear of Cook, the more I think there's something rather robotic about him, that's okay for a PR spokesman, but for a sports captain? No, I don't think so.

  • Yorks1 on June 28, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    Martin Williamson on these same pages on his article on Fred Trueman's first test at Headingley tells of a tactic that would have Cook never being able to count sheep again. Len Hutton, both captain and opening batsman, made five bowling changes in the first hour! Imagine trying to set a field for that Mr. Cook!

  • Chris1881 on June 28, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    Not sure Root is the right choice as captain. His sledging of SL struck me as a kid trying to prove himself among the big boys.

    No one is the current 11 is an obvious candidate.

    England needs a Darren Sammy. A wholehearted leader of men who hungrily seized an opportunity which he maybe felt he would never get.

    Foster? Reed??

  • steve48 on June 28, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Nutcutlet makes an excellent point. How much pressure does Cook feel under to stay on and repay the outrageously inappropriate vote of confidence he received, including the clearing the decks of potential miscreants to facilitate Cook's leadership, to which they pinned all hopes for English cricket on? The poor bloke might actually feel unable to quit for fear of embarrassing them!

  • Philip_Gnana on June 28, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Stubornness stems from pride. Pride can be a good thing when you are being positive. Alaistair does know whether he is sitting and standing at the moment. The back to back defeats do not seem to have seeped in to him yet. The thumping in Australia was big enough for anyone to consider their long term standing as captain, but not with Cook.

    This stubborn spirit is only going to filter through and all will be sticking their heads in the sand and hoping the good days will come along. The series against India is going to be tough with many youngsters and talented pacemen in their ranks.

    Tactically outsmarted on and off the field by Angelo Matthews. Ian Bell in my opinion looks the part.

  • steve48 on June 28, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    Good article, but please read KP in the DT for a real insight into the problems Cook is facing, I certainly had more sympathy for our captain after I read it. If you lack the time, or interest in what KP has to say, the one thing I took away was how little on field help Cook now has. He describes JA and SB as self absorbed, points to Priors own form problems making him less help, and doesn't even bother to mention Bell! Some may take the column as sour grapes, just as Warne 'has an agenda' in some eyes. Read the content, however, and take in the commonsense analysis, rather than read with your own agenda, and both columnists back up their criticisms well, and give us readers 'outside cricket' much needed understanding of how our team has imploded so disastrously.

  • Nutcutlet on June 28, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    I have little time for Shane Warne the person, but his cricketing brain is admirable and often isightful. His both barrels attack on Cook's captaincy is, IMO, fully justified. There is simply nothing to praise in his handling on the team on the field and nothing, but nothing, to change that impression in the utterances he makes when confronted by the Fourth Estate. I feel genuinely sorry for Cook - and that's not a comfortable sentiment to hold when speaking of the captain of the England team. He couldn't be trying harder; his integrity is beyond dispute; his commitment is absolute, but he is in no sense a captain. Even if he begins to score good runs again, that won't suddenly make him a good captain. He has no feel for the job; it's not in his DNA. Would you ask a labrador to round up sheep? Would you ask a shire horse to race? So why is Cook still there? Because Giles Clarke & Downton have nailed thier colours to his mast - and they, being all wise, cannot be wrong, can they?

  • Bluey74 on June 28, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    Anyone familiar with ''The Peter Principle' knows the dangers of promoting your most skilled exponent to a position of leadership. In short:

    1. They may not be leadership material; and 2. Their skills that were formerly so highly valued may be lost or diminished

    It can be a double-blow and certainly appears this way with Cook.

    Some sports can get away with a token appointment of captain. Not cricket though ... it is so crucial

  • jackiethepen on June 28, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Martin Crowe has merely indicated why he only survived as captain for 16 Tests. Root is still struggling to cement his place in the side after being over exposed at No 2 and 3. He should be allowed to concentrate on settling down at 5. Precedence is poor argument because Root is nothing like Smith.

    Cook was picked because he was a tough opener etc. But unfortunately one doesn't lead to the other. He has no natural ability as captain so he is fighting against his lack of skills all the time. It is hard going for him and the team. Any decent coach would have spotted it years ago when Cook became ODI captain. It was masked by the reasonable success of the ODI side. But Test cricket is a different matter. Poor captaincy really can lose you the game.

    Clarke lost games but everyone could see he was a skilful captain on the field. Change of coach and those skills became paramount. The ECB backed Cook on Flower's recommendation. Moores has inherited the problem.

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    england can be great .aproach some south africans and aussies .a good spinner from india also to play for them.

  • BradmanBestEver on June 28, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Martin Crowe is correct.

    It will be a very long hard road back to competitiveness for the English cricket team - the journey is being made more difficult by the lack of positive, bold action being taken by the responsible parties - such inaction is commonplace in decaying regimes

  • Clyde on June 28, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    England cannot now be successful unless they do it by attacking. Does it matter that they lose in the attempt? Cricket has become more more bureaucratic, and particularly in England. ECB attitudes seem to have crept on to the field. Cricket needs to be player-led, by players who attack. Attack does include the blunting effects of Boycotts and Lawrys. Positivity is another useful way to put it: for example, a batsman's correct, comprehensive and accomplished defence to a good bowler. The English players have been adrift in a powerful, dragging Sargasso Sea of those who are not actually on the ground. Lately, we see signs of new players who can make their way out, who can succeed through their own enjoyment of the game, who won't allow their talents and willingness to be made grey and conforming. Yet, why it is that there is always someone willing to front a press conference? Surely there must be days when naturally truly free players would let the media know they could go to hell.

  • Rajeshj on June 28, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    I disagree with some of the assessments by Martin... First of all, I felt Cook was right in saying that he never quits.. particularly when a 5-test series against stronger Indian team is due in 10 days time.. Probably Cook could have said that he would re-think after the Indian series.. Also Joe Root, Robson and Ballance are just too inexperienced and its tough to say whether they would survive another 3 or 4 seasons.. And I doubt if Martin was really thinking with his head when he says to give captaincy to Joe Root.. In Australia, with all those failures, Joe Root appeared the most timid cricketer you would see on the field.. I don't think he has much captaincy credentials at the moment to be considered for that job.. Eoin Morgan or Butler could be likely candidates who are worth a try..

  • Webba84 on June 28, 2014, 5:06 GMT

    Anybody watching could see that bowling in 10 over spells was killing Broad and Anderson. If, after watching Johnson get bowled in 4 overs spells all summer Cook still cant make such a simple adjustment on the field I wouldnt put him in charge of a school team.

  • Jaggadaaku on June 28, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Don't forget to mention that it also worked for MS Dhoni at the similar age.

  • A.Kessell on June 28, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    The issue is not with the copious media availability of the players, it is the employer of the players who does not wish to deal with the potential fallout of players speaking their mind while still wanting them to indulge in public relations. Of course it's not the easiest needle to thread, if Allistair comes out and says more or less what Martin has written then the ECB has to trot out some goon to tell the world that Cook only speaks for himself, shouldn't be taken out of context, review to take place ect ect. If they don't, and let Cook have the final, poignant word, they will be lambasted by the press with headlines like; England in Chaos, Cook out of control, which only worsens the problem for the ECB. One would like to think that most media outlets woud only do such a thing out of retaliation to endless streams of 'taking the positives' and other such non speak. We of course know that their are enough opportunist out there to resign such thinking to the more fancifull.

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  • A.Kessell on June 28, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    The issue is not with the copious media availability of the players, it is the employer of the players who does not wish to deal with the potential fallout of players speaking their mind while still wanting them to indulge in public relations. Of course it's not the easiest needle to thread, if Allistair comes out and says more or less what Martin has written then the ECB has to trot out some goon to tell the world that Cook only speaks for himself, shouldn't be taken out of context, review to take place ect ect. If they don't, and let Cook have the final, poignant word, they will be lambasted by the press with headlines like; England in Chaos, Cook out of control, which only worsens the problem for the ECB. One would like to think that most media outlets woud only do such a thing out of retaliation to endless streams of 'taking the positives' and other such non speak. We of course know that their are enough opportunist out there to resign such thinking to the more fancifull.

  • Jaggadaaku on June 28, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Don't forget to mention that it also worked for MS Dhoni at the similar age.

  • Webba84 on June 28, 2014, 5:06 GMT

    Anybody watching could see that bowling in 10 over spells was killing Broad and Anderson. If, after watching Johnson get bowled in 4 overs spells all summer Cook still cant make such a simple adjustment on the field I wouldnt put him in charge of a school team.

  • Rajeshj on June 28, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    I disagree with some of the assessments by Martin... First of all, I felt Cook was right in saying that he never quits.. particularly when a 5-test series against stronger Indian team is due in 10 days time.. Probably Cook could have said that he would re-think after the Indian series.. Also Joe Root, Robson and Ballance are just too inexperienced and its tough to say whether they would survive another 3 or 4 seasons.. And I doubt if Martin was really thinking with his head when he says to give captaincy to Joe Root.. In Australia, with all those failures, Joe Root appeared the most timid cricketer you would see on the field.. I don't think he has much captaincy credentials at the moment to be considered for that job.. Eoin Morgan or Butler could be likely candidates who are worth a try..

  • Clyde on June 28, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    England cannot now be successful unless they do it by attacking. Does it matter that they lose in the attempt? Cricket has become more more bureaucratic, and particularly in England. ECB attitudes seem to have crept on to the field. Cricket needs to be player-led, by players who attack. Attack does include the blunting effects of Boycotts and Lawrys. Positivity is another useful way to put it: for example, a batsman's correct, comprehensive and accomplished defence to a good bowler. The English players have been adrift in a powerful, dragging Sargasso Sea of those who are not actually on the ground. Lately, we see signs of new players who can make their way out, who can succeed through their own enjoyment of the game, who won't allow their talents and willingness to be made grey and conforming. Yet, why it is that there is always someone willing to front a press conference? Surely there must be days when naturally truly free players would let the media know they could go to hell.

  • BradmanBestEver on June 28, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Martin Crowe is correct.

    It will be a very long hard road back to competitiveness for the English cricket team - the journey is being made more difficult by the lack of positive, bold action being taken by the responsible parties - such inaction is commonplace in decaying regimes

  • on June 28, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    england can be great .aproach some south africans and aussies .a good spinner from india also to play for them.

  • jackiethepen on June 28, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Martin Crowe has merely indicated why he only survived as captain for 16 Tests. Root is still struggling to cement his place in the side after being over exposed at No 2 and 3. He should be allowed to concentrate on settling down at 5. Precedence is poor argument because Root is nothing like Smith.

    Cook was picked because he was a tough opener etc. But unfortunately one doesn't lead to the other. He has no natural ability as captain so he is fighting against his lack of skills all the time. It is hard going for him and the team. Any decent coach would have spotted it years ago when Cook became ODI captain. It was masked by the reasonable success of the ODI side. But Test cricket is a different matter. Poor captaincy really can lose you the game.

    Clarke lost games but everyone could see he was a skilful captain on the field. Change of coach and those skills became paramount. The ECB backed Cook on Flower's recommendation. Moores has inherited the problem.

  • Bluey74 on June 28, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    Anyone familiar with ''The Peter Principle' knows the dangers of promoting your most skilled exponent to a position of leadership. In short:

    1. They may not be leadership material; and 2. Their skills that were formerly so highly valued may be lost or diminished

    It can be a double-blow and certainly appears this way with Cook.

    Some sports can get away with a token appointment of captain. Not cricket though ... it is so crucial

  • Nutcutlet on June 28, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    I have little time for Shane Warne the person, but his cricketing brain is admirable and often isightful. His both barrels attack on Cook's captaincy is, IMO, fully justified. There is simply nothing to praise in his handling on the team on the field and nothing, but nothing, to change that impression in the utterances he makes when confronted by the Fourth Estate. I feel genuinely sorry for Cook - and that's not a comfortable sentiment to hold when speaking of the captain of the England team. He couldn't be trying harder; his integrity is beyond dispute; his commitment is absolute, but he is in no sense a captain. Even if he begins to score good runs again, that won't suddenly make him a good captain. He has no feel for the job; it's not in his DNA. Would you ask a labrador to round up sheep? Would you ask a shire horse to race? So why is Cook still there? Because Giles Clarke & Downton have nailed thier colours to his mast - and they, being all wise, cannot be wrong, can they?