The Ashes 2013-14 November 5, 2013

Cook stands by his record

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Alastair Cook admits there are times he could be a more imaginative leader, following the latest round of Shane Warne antagonism that caught the England captain's attention and even raised his blood pressure a touch. But Cook was content to defend his leadership based on a record of 13 Test matches without a defeat and series wins over India and Australia entering the return Ashes series down under.

Warne has made some sport of baiting Cook for "negative" tactics on the field, in contrast to the more romantic inclinations of Australia's leader Michael Clarke. He kept up his criticisms throughout England's 3-0 series victory during the northern summer and raised them again while promoting the coming battle. Cook conceded his captaincy style was not always the most dynamic, but stated that the results he had achieved were a greater vindication than any favourable opinion.

"It doesn't seem times have changed at all since last summer," Cook said, somewhat wearily. "It's old news, we had pretty good results in the summer as well. It's not surprising, being Australian, trying to get into the England camp, I think everyone can see that. It is what happens when England play Australia. It hasn't changed since the summer and we don't expect it to change over the next couple of months.

"I've always said I'm trying to learn on the job from experience and there will be times where I could be slightly more imaginative and think slightly differently if the situation arises," Cook said. "We've had a pretty good run so far as a Test side. In my first year as a Test captain we've won away in India which wasn't done for a long time, won a series against Australia and I think those are things we can be very proud of as a side.

"I keep saying it, it's all about results. In sport it is pretty black and white. In cricket you can draw but most of the time in sport you win or lose and luckily at the moment with the players we've got we've done quite a lot of winning and that's what it's about, the now, how we are preparing for another big challenge, winning in Australia."

An international cricketer can often be judged by how he responds to public criticism, whether it be a question of how personally he takes it, what he proceeds to do on the pitch or whether or not he holds a grudge towards those who expressed or published it. Cook said it was impossible not to be affected by words as terse as Warne's, but that he was proud of how he had dealt with that element of a career in the public eye thus far, while also continuing to pay attention to the areas of captaincy that Warne cannot glimpse from the commentary box.

"One of the skills you need as an international cricketer compared to being just a county player is having to deal with this situation," Cook said. "There is a lot more interest in what's going on and how you handle yourself is whether you make the grade or not and over a long period of time I think I have handled it pretty well. When someone makes a comment about you it does change your blood pressure slightly. No-one in the world can say it doesn't but I'm pretty confident and pretty skillful at being able to handle it because over the past seven years I have done it pretty well.

"At the end of the day results are the most important things. That's how your judged pretty much as a captain. There's two sides of it, the man management side of it, back in the dressing room, back at the hotel, how you handle certain individuals, and there's what happens on the field as well. That's the very public bit of captaincy."

Cook has regained flexibility in his back following the stiffness that ruled him out of the opening tour match in Perth, and will walk out to toss the coin for the Englishmen against Australia A in Hobart on Wednesday. So prolific against Australia on his last visit in 2010-11, Cook is hoping to improve upon the run of indifferent scores he managed earlier his year in England.

"It's nice coming to a country where you have scored a lot of runs in the past, it doesn't count for anything now though," Cook said. "Any batter knows if you walk around a ground where you have scored runs in the past it gives you a better feeling than not scoring runs. You always have to prove yourself as a batter. There's always someone saying last time he didn't score runs. Situations don't change. The difference is probably that I'm now responsible for the team."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 11, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    How many test matches did Warne win as Captain anyway?

  • dummy4fb on November 8, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    don't forget vaughan started out as a tactically unimaginative captain...

  • dummy4fb on November 6, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    Clarke the best captain? They've won 1 Test all year!!

  • Diaz54 on November 6, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    Not an issue at the moment.....it is the results which count. He will coming into firing line if he losses the serious through por captaincy. Should not speculate about this at this stage.

  • JG2704 on November 6, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    @ Mitty2 - Actually agree re Cook being generally over defensive. Eng have talked about their hunger to close the gap on SA but in my mind have played like a side more intent on keeping the number 2 position. In one of the home tests vs NZ , Cook's overcaution almost undid the bowlers good work in turning a likely win into a nailbiting win because luckily the weather wasn't as bad as forecasted and Eng bowled NZ out in double quick time in the 2nd inns. I always get the feeling that Eng's policy is to go for a nailed on draw above getting a likely win. However this comes from above - as already mentioned - Strauss was no different. Is the defensive approach working - at times yes. It probably worked in the last Ashes series where negative tactics comb with weather may have saved Eng in the 3rd test and led to a manufactured declaration and nearly a win in the final test. Mind you , his man management and the way he's united the dressing room is definitely a plus

  • Mitty2 on November 6, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    @JG2074, no I must have missed my good friend optic's comment. He/she really only seems to comment in retaliation to others, doesn't have anything productive/positive to say? Maybe just a little bit insecure. To be fair, it's hard to keep both eyes open as during the Lord's test after Lunch I had both eyes closed as staying awake to see us get smashed is rather futile especially when I had an unhealthy hatred of Haddin building up every time Root lay bat on ball. I've always taken you as the one of the most objective Eng fans so I'll just respectfully keep my distance with a differing opinion. Cook is a defensive captain - no doubt. But he has an extremely talented team and the safety first option isn't necessary especially when you have so many fighters on your team. Anderson/Swann/Broad all over 200 test wickets but do they ball to attacking fields? No. Why not? They're proven and they'd take more wickets. I stand by it: Cook had every one on the boundary against a no.11. Really?

  • Liquefierrrr on November 6, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    So there we have it England supporters - your own captain admits he's a defensive, unimaginative skipper. He does this in his typically verbose, boring and politically-correct way, but he definitely does.

    He's the beneficiary of being an ordinary, unimaginative and one-card-trick skipper of a good team. A team good enough to beat India away and beat this regenerating Aus side.

    Good to see Warne get under his skin, the English fans, media and biased commentators would have it that Cook's blood runs ice-cold at all times, but he's just as flappable and prone to sting as anyone else.

    England's bowling depth looks out to sea, they better pray the starting XI (which is very good, better than Aus) stays fit else we'll see Simon Kerrigan part 2.

  • wellrounded87 on November 5, 2013, 23:27 GMT

    I think england's success has a a lot more to do with the playing group they've got rather than Cook's captaincy.

    It's clear to anyone with eyes that he's a boring safe captain that has no killer instinct, no gumption and as a tactician is lacking in a few areas. But lucky for him the playing group is good enough to beat any side in the world on most days on talent alone.

    He seems to be a good leader off the field also which is a plus but let's be real about it. If you swapped Cook for Clarke on the field England would be a much better side and Australia would be far worse off than they already are.

  • Wayne_Larkins_Barnet on November 5, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Yeah lunge, Clarke is cowering behind that mountain of runs he has scored. What a bizarre comment. Warne made the same comments about Cook's captaincy during commentary during the last series, making some very sound technical points in the process. It is hardly stirring is it? Believe me, Warne gets plenty of attention away from cricket so it would hardly matter to him. I don't think the England camp would care one little bit and I'm sure the Aussies know that too.

  • PrasPunter on November 5, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    well i really dont care about what he does with the meaningless ODIs. He is a very good test player and i would want on my side any time. Got to admit this. And he did awesome in india inspite of they going with their usual bag of tricks.

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