The Ashes 2013-14

Cook stands by his record

Daniel Brettig

November 5, 2013

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Alastair Cook watches his bowlers endure a tough day, Western Australia Chairman's XI v England XI, 1st day, Perth, October 31, 2103
Learning on the job: Alastair Cook says he is proud of his run as Test captain © AFP
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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."

Real Time Snicko set to be edged out

  • The possibility of Real Time Snicko making its debut in the Ashes is diminishing by day with the initial ICC assessment of the new technology not due to be finished before the series and the governing body understood to be unwilling to sanction any use ahead of schedule.
  • The system, which allows almost instant use of the audio and pictures synced together, has been billed as the most accurate way to determine if a ball has been edged rather than Hot Spot and the stump microphone individually.

  • There remains a chance that Hot Spot will be available after talks between Warren Brennen, its inventor, and Cricket Australia resumed after they have previously stalled over costs.

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

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Posted by   on (November 11, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

How many test matches did Warne win as Captain anyway?

Posted by   on (November 8, 2013, 13:20 GMT)

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

Posted by   on (November 6, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

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

Posted by Diaz54 on (November 6, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

Not an issue at the 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Front-Foot-Sponge 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

What has he even bothered responding to that clown Warne anyway? It is clear Warne simply backs his mates at every turn, and nothing more. Cook's record is fantastic and he should have simply said "its not worth responding to".

Posted by whoster on (November 5, 2013, 14:46 GMT)

Well, four unbeaten series out of four since Cook took over the reigns - including the mammoth feat of winning away in India and a 3-0 Ashes victory. Even when England aren't at their best and are behind in a game, they show incredible resilience and fight to avoid defeat. Certainly, I hope to see Cook become a little more aggressive and intuitive with his captaincy, but his first year as captain has been hugely successful.

Still, give Warnie the odd scrap to feed off, and he'll take it. He should perhaps be concentrating his attention on Australia, but having a pop at Cook's captaincy will always be likelier to fufil his desire to be in the spotlight.

Although Warne was part of team of great inividuals, they were also renowned for being hugely difficult to beat if they weren't at their best. England may not have the same talent at their disposal, but they sure aren't any easier to beat.

Looking forward to more silly propoganda from Warne throughout The Ashes.

Posted by Front-Foot-Sponge on (November 5, 2013, 14:09 GMT)

Anyway, others nonsense aside, Warne was very upfront about his thoughts on Cook's captaincy and gave legitimate reasons, on commentary, that made a lot of sense. I'd take Cook's win record over Clarke's tactical superiority and the former does seem to have a tight dressing room but I hardly think Warne is playing any games here. Warney has always called it like it is (to him) and whether we agree or not doesn't make much difference at the end of the day. My opinion is that England are boring but on the back of 3 Ashes defeats if we win and all we have to put up with is being called boring I'll take it!

Posted by landl47 on (November 5, 2013, 13:22 GMT)

I think Cook knows that Warney is an entertainer who likes to stir things up. He wasn't a test captain so has no record himself to justify his remarks and a simple comparison of Clarke's record with Cook's comes out in Cook's favour.

Cook didn't have a huge amount of captaincy experience when he became England captain, having been in the England side since he was 21 and not playing many county games (players like Cook, Bell and Broad, who have been in the England side since they were very young, have had to develop in international games, which limits their experience in some areas). He'll improve tactically, but already he seems to have the knack of gaining respect from his side. It's plain that whatever Clarke's strategic skills, and I admire his on-field tactics, he's had problems in the dressing-room.

This England side under Cook doesn't quit. They win or draw games they look like losing. I can pay Cook no higher compliment than to say the Aussies under Benaud were the same.

Posted by Guernica on (November 5, 2013, 13:03 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding I'm sure Cook only responded because he was directly asked about it. It's all part of the media game of trying to create some kind of needle in the build up. Just like the previous headline declaring Warne 'attacks' Cook, when all he did was make a few comments on his captaincy that he'd already made before. Just want the actual cricket to start.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 5, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

@ODI_BestFormOfCricket on (November 5, 2013, 11:20 GMT), who cares about ODI stats? This is an Ashes Test series. That said, since coming back into the ODI side as captain, Cook's record has been excellent, with a significantly increased strike rate.

Posted by JG2704 on (November 5, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding on (November 5, 2013, 11:30 GMT) I think to be fair - re the Oval game - the series was lost at that point. Clarke full on gambled to win a game that his side were in the box seat for the first 3 days. Had they won it would have restored some pride and self belief and had they lost I don't think it would have knocked too much out of them as they could always fall back on the knowledge that they were well on top before the weather came and made the only way of getting a result being the way he tried

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (November 5, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

@dunger.bob, I dont mind, as you say Atherton did the best with the resources available, he wasnt a great batsman but was solid (a couple of outstanding innings Vs Donald at his quickest stand out).

A very astute tactical captain was Vaughan, used a lot of innovative field placings in 2005 to cut down scoring, and had the bowlers to back up the plans.

I also agree that you look out the box when things dont go to plan and the more desperate you are the further out of the box you go, but sometimes you can be too desperate, a classic example was bowling to Ashton at trent bridge in the first innings, England looked too far out of the box to find a solution rather than sticking to the paln. The Oval is another example where Clarke and Australia didnt read the game properly and went too far out of the box to try and win then had to resort to negative tactics when it started to go wrong and england looked to be coasting to the target.

Posted by ODI_BestFormOfCricket on (November 5, 2013, 11:20 GMT)

@villageblacksmith where is your cook's odi stats mate.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (November 5, 2013, 10:30 GMT)

@dungerbob… I was responding to the comment made on here by today's winner that Cook was ,,, ''nowhere near to modern cricketers like sachin'' ,,, There was no mention by me of his captaincy or future greatness, just a pointer on where he is (and has been) in relation to the big name mentioned… pretty close is the answer by the cricinfo stattos…. moving forward I wdnt dare to guess but as any share brochure says… past performance is no guarantee of future performance… but he has certainly faced adversity a few times before as a player and then strode on thru the record books… and he has already in his short captaincy, going 1-0 down in India ??? then winning 2-1?? ref captaincy it's as benaud (and others no doubt) say, being a good captain is 90% luck … and luck is generally being in the right place at the right time… with the right team… And not having a big head, and so he is happy to agree a little with Warne, and openly admit he is learning his way.. so good him as you people say!

Posted by Rahul_78 on (November 5, 2013, 9:40 GMT)

Cook has emerged as an able leader in his captaincy career so far. Credit should be given to Cook on the way the transition from Strauss to his era has happened without any major hiccups. He has been good at handling the characters like KP and obtaining optimum performance from his XI as is shown by his record. He has conquered India in India which not many leaders in the world can boast of. Only thing he has to prove is how he will lead in case his team is put under huge pressure and he goes down 1-0 or 2-0 in a series. He looked bit rattled when Eng lost to India in Champions trophy. We haven't yet seen Cook the captain under pressure. But with the team he has on his hand and Andy Flower in the dressing room he should be able to handle it. As for Clarke irrespective of how imaginative he might be on field, cold facts are Aussies have won nothing under him recently and his man management skills have been questioned now and again by past players, colleagues and media alike.

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 5, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

@ YorkshirePudding : I'm on the prowl tonight and willing to argue about anything, so watch out.

I reckon the old adage 'necessity is the mother of invention' applies to cricket pretty solidly. If you're desperate you're more likely to start looking outside the box. A funky field placing, a surprise bowling change, kicking the square leg umpire right in the nuts, anything. Cook doesn't have to do that much because he and his players are rarely desperate. He's got a good team around him and no matter what anyone says it helps a whole ship-load. .. An illustration of that is Mike Atherton. He was, I thought, a top notch batsman who captained a modest team. In a stronger team he might be regarded more these days for his captaincy skills. .. He tried his best and did an excellent job for his country imo, but I doubt anyone else thinks the same about him down here. .. In short, a shot-hit team can make any mug look like a genius.

Posted by Montague_Withnail on (November 5, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

There was a time when Warne's post-retirement sledging annoyed me, but ever since Durham, I love it. Every time he opens his mouth to have a go at Cook now it's another opportunity to remember how he was silenced in the commentary box after having criticised the introduction of Bresnan into the attack. Sweet, sweet moments.

Posted by JG2704 on (November 5, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

Re Cook as an onfield captain , I'd say he's very unimaginative etc but is he any different from Strauss in that aspect? As already touched upon by JMC/JTP in this thread and me for quite some time , Cook/Strauss have more been onfield supervisors so in a sense when Flower is praising Cook's captaincy he is really praising himself. However he does seemed to have (re)unified the team and seems to be a great influence on the players which should not be downplayed. He has had a mixed record as a test captain. Winning in India followed by a struggling draw in NZ sums this up.

Posted by JG2704 on (November 5, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

@Mitty2 on (November 5, 2013, 5:24 GMT) re

" having 9 men on the boundary against fifth and sixth/seventh (NZ) teams"

What does that mean? Also did you respond to Optic's comm. on the Warne thread re Clarke having loads of men on the boundary for Root or did your other eye miss that too?

@Narkovian on (November 5, 2013, 8:36 GMT) The slow scoring rate/neg tactics probably worked FOR Cook in the last Ashes. Of the 2 drawn games these tactics probably helped save the games and even almost led to a manufactured win in the last test. However I get your points. Even Eng fans will get more satisfaction from the way Vaughan's team of 2005 played the game than of how the 2013 side goes about the job and that side won the respect of everyone both for that series result and the way they went about it.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (November 5, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

I'm really suprised that Cook and the england team responded, he should have just let it go.

In the end all that matters is whether you win or not not how you win, and sometimes you can have too much style over substance, as the Aussies proved in the summer, lots of innovative thinking yet still didnt win a game, and even risked losing the series 4-0 through rash batting and declaration at the oval.

Posted by featurewriter on (November 5, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

I'm an Australian and a proud Aussie cricket supporter, but I have admired Alistair Cook as a cricketer since he was a teenager. Shane Warne (as much as I admire him as a cricketer and tactician) never captained a national team. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise when you have no position to defend. As far as Cook is concerned, it's probably best to remember Peter Drucker's famous quote about leadership: Leadership is about results. So far, Alistair Cook's results indicate good leadership. I'm looking forward to a great Australian summer of cricket.

Posted by Narkovian on (November 5, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

Many good qualities about Cook, no doubt. But their is definitely a BORING edge to the ENG team. Last summer didn't exactly set the world alight did it? ENG were a far better team than AUS, but batted as if they were minnows , hanging on for dear life. Look at Cook's scoring rate ( and a few others too) during the series. Talk about "grinding". Sir Geoffrey Boycott scored quicker all those years ago and he got dropped for slow scoring. And that was when scoring rates were slower than today in general !!

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 5, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

@ VillageBlacksmith : I completely take your point about Cook the batsman. That's a tremendous record and who know's what he'll end up doing. He could, for example, end up as the most prolific of them all. Personally, I don't think so. I reckon he's an early bloomer who will start to fade soon, but then again, what do I know. Either way, his current batting credentials are not in question. In the words of an ageing but still attractive semi ex-pat, "we should be so lucky".

Still, Cook the batsman is not Cook the captain. There are questions about his adaptability as the on-field leader simply because he rarely has to stray from the same old schtick. It's not his fault, more of a side effect of success.

Like I said in an earlier post, we Aussies won't be convinced until we see him under pressure on the scoreboard. Of course that means we have to play a lot better than we have been. So, in an ironic twist, Cooks rep. as a captain down here won't be made until he fails. Strange but tru

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 5, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

@jackiethepen on (November 5, 2013, 8:01 GMT), I don't think you are either but I certainly don't want my comments to be seen as an attack on Andy Flower. He has undoubtedly done a lot for this England team and is one of the reasons for their success. If they are a bit one-dimensional though, that is in good part down to him. His approach has worked in most situations but I think the Pakistan series in UAE is a good example of where they needed to adapt and just seemed not to try. While the Pakistan bowlers were probably better than SL's, then following series against SL showed what the England batsmen could do if they adapted their approach. They started out playing just like they did in UAE and things went the same way. They started to change their approach in the second innings of the first Test but it was too little too late for that game. They played differently in the second game and reaped the rewards. Innovation is not always required but flexibility is key.

Posted by swauzzie on (November 5, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

Strange how nobody remembers that the Poms only just scraped home their series win (though of course yes 3-0 is 3-0) but it could just as well have been 2-1 to Oz had it not been for the english weather. Down under they won't be so lucky! I think that Cook is gonna get found out down under with his form of captaincy. If they win 1 game, they'll be lucky! 3-1 to the Aussies is my prediction. Onward & upward Ozzie ozzie ozzie oi oi oi!!!

Posted by thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on (November 5, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

I'm surprised Cook gave such a detailed answer to what was a pretty obvious and tedious bit of pre-Ashes baiting from Warne. Cook learnt his trade at Essex under the close eye of Gooch. Flower was also at Essex during that time. Gooch's tactics were simple, he won Championship titles by telling the bowlers to bowl at 4th stump all day. Gooch was not a showy captain, like him, Cook let's his runs do the talking.

Posted by class9ryan on (November 5, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

There's no point being imaginative if things are going fairly well for the Poms. England have enough experience to win against the Oz even in alien conditions as they have done before. The English team is morally stronger than Australia.

Posted by jackiethepen on (November 5, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

I agree with jmcilhinney that Flower is very controlling and I think the whole team knows it. KP's rebellion didn't come out of nowhere. Flower has also a bullying side when it comes to competitive atmospheres which doesn't naturally get the best out of players. He has fostered Cook, promoting him to captain and more or less dictates his moves from the dressing room. Cook though has a much better relationship with the players especially KP and Bell and Anderson who Flower used to ignore and sometimes attack in nasty public pronouncements. This doesn't happen now which must be down to Cook. Cook isn't a good captain on the field but behind the scenes he must speak up for his players. That has brought its own rewards.

Posted by shane-oh on (November 5, 2013, 7:45 GMT)

People really need to stop responding to Warne - it just encourages him to think that he is still relevant to the game. Why is this guy even in the news? Just a sad man, trying to convince people he still matters.

I think this is also an attempt to try and get Cook to alter tactics - which tells us that Warne doesn't believe the Aussie team are good enough to beat England unless they stray from their highly successful strategy. Somehow, I think Cook is a bit smarter than that.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (November 5, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

He Leads from the front, facing the first ball of the innings every innings, which is the polar opposite of Clarke who hides down at 5 or 6 to preserve his average. Cook is one of the, if not the, bravest captain in the world because of this and is an inspiration to his team. A sound tactician, a proven better captain than any side England have faced since he took over, and can only lead England from strength to strength. Last time he scored 766. I predict at least over 500 this time.

Posted by balajik1968 on (November 5, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

I think it was Deng Xiao Ping who said, "I don't care what colour the cat is as long as it catches mice". Cook's methods have yielded good results so far. Why fix something which is not broken?

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

@ODI_BestFormOfCricket Your screen name is enough to hint why you might hate Cook. Having a proper defensive technique and mental strength to bat for a whole day is definitely not the same as being one-directional and single minded. It's called being patient and focused.

Posted by Fan1969 on (November 5, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

As long as Cook can repeat the last Ashes scoreline of 3-0 or the last time they visited Australia scoreline of 3-1, England will not mind Aussie sledging.

England won all the important moments in the English summer even though the matches were closer than the scoreline suggests.

I think the same will happen again...3-1 to England.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

Ha ha Warney, good job he's not a very good captain or the 3-0 and 3-1 we beat you last 2 Ashes would have been 5-0. Perhaps it will be now you've inspired Cooky to be more bold. Thanks cobber!

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (November 5, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

@odibest form ofcricket…. you will probably win todays prize… So Cook is ''nowhere near to modern cricketers like sachin'' ???? This below is from cricinfo and they never lie…. ''Cook came good on a host of promises, scoring an incredible 766 runs in seven innings to anchor England's first series win in Australia for 24 years. In so doing, he went past 5,000 Test runs, having turned 26 on Christmas Day - the second youngest batsman to reach the landmark after Sachin Tendulkar. Two years later and further records had been broken as he became England's leading Test century-maker - hitting No. 23 against India in Kolkata, his third in three matches - and became the youngest player to pass 7000 runs.'' I should return to odi's mate….

Posted by Rowayton on (November 5, 2013, 6:38 GMT)

As an Aussie, I reckon this criticism of Cook's captaincy is over the top. When you are captaining the better side it's perfectly reasonable to hold it steady as she goes and wait for the other side to implode. It's worked, hasn't it? When he has a different team - say after KP, Anderson and Swann are gone, maybe he will captain differently. Who knows?

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 5, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

Shane Warne... God I miss him. It looks as though he's still got a solid stock delivery though. A bit loopy, got a late inward curve to it and a sharp change of direction at the end. All designed to confuse and chip away at the self confidence of his opponent. It's good to see some things never change.

On to Cook who is far more relevant than Shane these days, I put him just below Ricky Ponting as a captain. He's a top player and can obviously handle his troops off the field (probably better than Ponting in that respect) but he's blessed with a very good team that can win him games by using the same old formula over and over again.

If he had a poor team maybe he would be more imaginative through sheer necessity. If Plan A doesn't work you go to Plan B and so on. It's our job to put him under enough pressure to force him to do something different. If they can do that we should get a better idea of how well he thinks on his feet. By pressure I mean winning the First Test.

Posted by drpramit on (November 5, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

Aus batting is not upto test standards that is the basic reason for Eng's Ashes victory. Captaincy has nothing to do with that. Clarke as a captain hasnt done much wrong & cook as a captain hasn't done any thing magical. Aus will definitely have a bowling advantage in home conditions but their batting may let them down. So overall its going to be a fine battle with 60-40 in Eng favour

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 5, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

I do think that a great many people, mostly outside England, underestimate the influence of Andy Flower on this England team. I think that it's almost certainly greater than any other international coach in terms of control because that's his nature as a coach, even if it wasn't so much as a player. Not to say that Cook and Strauss before him would otherwise be flamboyant captains but the slow and steady approach comes first and foremost from Flower. Both Cook and Strauss will have learned a lot from Flower and will naturally take on many of his attributes. If Cook had had more flamboyant role models then I don't doubt that he would be a little looser as a captain. We may even see that to an extent if and when Ashley Giles takes over the Test coaching role. Giles is no tearaway himself but I don't think that he's as controlling as Flower.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (November 5, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

which bit of 3-0 don't the aussies understand…

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 5, 2013, 6:27 GMT)

@Cameron Jonesy on (November 5, 2013, 5:53 GMT), as has been said, there's more to captaincy than what happens on the field. The fact that England have won may not have a lot to do with the difference Cook has made on the field but undoubtedly owes something to his off-field contribution.

Posted by ODI_BestFormOfCricket on (November 5, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

Cook is not a attacking captian and also lacks innovation. He is defensive. What england got is good team otherwise they will be exposed.

As a basman, Cook is nowhere near to modern cricketters like sachin, lara, pointing, kallis, sangakara. Above mentioned legends are good in both odi and test. But cook is one-directional, defensive, single minded batsman, his biggest weakness. He is 80's type of test batsman, take too many balls to score runs and lack of varieties in his strokes, makes him not suitable for odi matches. AB devilliries, who is (same era) is miles ahead of cook. AB's adaptability, stroke making abilites are cheer class, modern and innovative. Cooks needs to change according to situation and demand.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

Well England won in India whereas Aus got hammered. So can't fault Cook here

Posted by Mitty2 on (November 5, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

@Cameron Jonesy, so he doesn't lead from the front, doesn't have the obligation of uniting and motivating the team...? But on a lighter note if he was captain of the '07 team he would have put the keeper on the fence as well ;)

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

That England have won has nothing to do with Cook's captaincy, its that they have a good team. Make Cook captain of the 2007 team and they would have done worse

Posted by BatsmanWhoBowls on (November 5, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

I don't really care what Cook does, so long as England's over-rate isn't so poor that Geoffrey Boycott gets bored watching it. And I'm expecting more from Clarke as well, I'm not saying Cook's the only culprit. We can all understand (although perhaps not enjoy) circumstances such as the slowing of overs in the last hour of a very close test match, but if there's another series where England or Australia, or both, start wasting time for entire sessions or days, it will leave fans the world over with a feeling of anticlimax and dissatisfaction. And that's not what anyone wants.

Posted by PrasPunter on (November 5, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

Even though an Ashes adversary, I respect Cook for what he is. A pretty calm man, a highly effective opener and above all , a very very good Test opener. But Hey , come November 21, I will find you with the opponent's camp.

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (November 5, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

Don't worry about Warne rather worry about whenl Smith and co come play a series in England..... ask Hussein, Vaughn and Strauss about how that one pans out.

Posted by Mitty2 on (November 5, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

Cook's a calm character, and although he certainly has looked toothless on the field at times - having 9 men on the boundary against fifth and sixth/seventh (NZ) teams doesn't help - he to me does a far more important job of uniting the team and keeping everyone on the same page - which Clarke certainly struggles at. Cook handled the KP saga brilliantly and considering the team's results since, to me, he's a very good captain. But that's because, as said in Ed Cowan's article, the real and most important part of captaincy is after play finishes, in the dressing room, training, etc. The divisions with Clarke + Katich, Arthur and Watson at separate times indicate that he's not a good captain, and certainly his bias in selections was not good in his behalf (selecting Wade because he's his mate, not selecting SOK) didn't help.

But, the discrepancy in the off field captaincy is as large as the on field captaincy. Clarke constantly showed up Cook in this department, but still Eng won 3-0.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (November 5, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

It seems like Warne was successful in what he was wanting to achieve - plant a seed of doubt in Cooks mind.

Warne. One of the masters of the mental side of the game.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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