The Investec Ashes 2013 August 13, 2013

Cook is a strong leader - Flower


Andy Flower has praised the captaincy of Alastair Cook as a crucial factor in England's success in the Investec Ashes. England secured a series win over Australia in Durham on Monday and are now unbeaten in their last 12 Tests and last four series since Cook was appointed.

While Flower, the England team director, admitted the side had not played to their true potential over the first four matches of the series, he was full of praise for the team's attitude and the calm direction provided by Cook.

"I don't think we've played our best cricket in the series," Flower said. "But what we have done is been resilient. We've held ourselves well in pressure situations.

"Cook's captaincy has been excellent: strong in the dressing room and out in the field. He made some decisions that turned the game, such as bringing on Bresnan, who got Warner straight away. He's been maligned in some areas, I've heard. I'm not sure what is said off the field but we judge ourselves by our own standards.

"As a Test captain he is still a young man but he has led the side brilliantly. He's a strong leader and he's made some really good decisions in this Test series."

Cook's leadership has been heavily criticised by some, with former Australian legspinner Shane Warne a persistent negative voice. Indeed, Warne took to Twitter on Monday to say: "Cook is having a horror with his captaincy in the last two Tests. He set the tone early being very defensive and negative today."

Warne was also critical of the decision to bring Bresnan back into the attack on the fourth afternoon of the game. But Bresnan claimed the breakthrough wicket of David Warner with the fourth delivery of a fine six-over spell that also included the wicket of Shane Watson.

Flower also praised the contribution of Stuart Broad, who claimed 11 wickets in the match and produced a top-class spell on the fourth day as England claimed nine wickets after tea. But he admitted the Ashes tour to Australia will present further challenges and require England to adapt.

"It was nice being part of that afternoon session where Broad and Cook turned things around for us," Flower said. "Broad's spell of bowling was outstanding, showing real competitiveness, flair, nous and heart. They are all great qualities that reside in some of these very fine players.

"Playing in Australia will be a bigger challenge and we've already got some of our planning in operation. It will be a tough series and conditions will be very different. South Africa went there last winter and nearly lost to a very similar team to the one we've faced.

"We won in India last winter and that was a good example of adapting to very different conditions. We'll have to do that in Australia if we are to thrive out there."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on August 14, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    @Lliam Flynn on (August 14, 2013, 15:55 GMT) I think results have under Cook been mixed.

    Winning a test series in India , esp after the thrashing in the 1st test was amazing. India have always been an icredibly difficult team to beat on their own turf. Drawing 0-0 in NZ - which should have been 1-0 to NZ - was disappointing. 2-0 vs NZ at home was predictable but I suppose it seemed better due to the closer series in NZ. Winning 3-0 against Aus is an excellent scoreline - if flattering. All in all I'd say Cook has been a lucky captain and Eng under Cook have been better than the detractors have them down as being but not as great as some of the cheerleaders make out

  • dummy4fb on August 14, 2013, 15:55 GMT


    I totally agree with all you have written. Let's all not get too carried away and hagiographic over Cook. As pointed out half of the much-lauded English non-losing streak came against New Zealand (not knocking NZ but if you are going to prolong a winning streak you would choose the world #8 ranked side) and they were pushed very close in at least two games. Oz probably objectively got the short end of the decisions/DRS in the most recent series and had the rain stayed away Eng were about a coin flip chance from losing the Third Test. The Eng bowling and fielding appears to be set to rigid plans (why has Root bowled just 14 overs this series?) and when things don't go according to script the team shuts down. Clarke is forced to make bold plans because he needs to mix it up and take risks to get regular wickets to prevent the chase being too high. On the other hand, with a settled side of players with decent averages, Cook doesn't need to do anything extraordinary to win.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 14, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    @Karl Jenaway, Dhoni an attacking captain, did you not watch his field settings when in England and Aus in 2011, and again when england played India at the end of 2012, he was so defensive, he made Strauss look like an attacking captain, which really says something.

  • 5wombats on August 14, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    @SreeramR (August 14, 2013, 10:47 GMT) rubbish. I suppose those 3 Innings victories by England in Australia in 2010/11 were unworthy and lucky as well? What did you think of England's performance in India recently? Good wasn't it? Did you see it?

  • SreeramR on August 14, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    It was absolutely lucky for the English to win the Ashes.... A totally undeserving team... Helped by DRS and Australia's poor performance.....

  • 5wombats on August 14, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Thank you @sachin_vvsfan - I was going to reply to @PTtheAxis - but you said it better than I could. A captain is as good as the team. Fleming is an excellent example to use. I always thought he was a great player and captain. I'm not sure that Cook is that good a captain - he works to a "formula" and just follows the formula. A lot of England fans find this frustrating, but to be honest - this isn't a great England team; it doesn't have the power to force the issue like the Old Australia or West Indies. Instead this England team play percentages and try to play to their strength which is in the bowling/attrition columns, and Cook presides over this. As you rightly say Cook was immense in India and did what needed to be done when others could not whilst at the same time captaining the side in very hostile conditions. Even now he's only been captain for less than a year. Perhaps in time he will develop a style more of his own. We'll see.

  • JG2704 on August 14, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    I'd say that so far he's been a lucky captain - 3 instances

    1 - in NZ when BM (IMO) should have made Eng follow on and NZ def batted on too long as was proven when Eng saw out the final session wit Prior , Broad,Jimmy and Monty

    2- vs NZ at home - when Cook ignored the weather forecast and a combo of Eng bowlers bowling NZ out quicker than expected and the weather being a little better than anticipated saved his blushes

    3 - vs Aus (3rd test) - when Eng were obviously saved by rain

    I think the top 2 examples show the difference between being lucky as a captain (in Cook's case) and unlucky (in BM's case) when both captains made decisions which cost/could have cost their sidees a win

  • JG2704 on August 14, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Difficult to judge in a way. From a pro Cook point of view , his debut series in India was a baptism of fire and after a poor 1st test where Eng also made an atrocious bowling selection he and Eng turned it around and he led by example. However since then , I'm not so sure. On a positive point Eng won a couple of games they looked like they might lose vs Australia so he must have done something right. I will though say that of the 12 match unbeaten run , only the 3 matches in India were what could be described as above par. Eng would have been expected to win at home vs Aus (which they're doing) , at home vs NZ which they did and away vs NZ which they failed in and would have lost had BM not lost it as a captain To me Cook is more of a Flower Robot - more of a supervisor than anything else and is generally too defensive which is great when it's working but like Strauss before him , I'm not sure he has it in him to change tact when necessary

  • JG2704 on August 14, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan on (August 13, 2013, 13:49 GMT) Agreed. Some captains have better tools to work with than others. Personally I still prefer Clarke as a captain. I thought Mccullum's captaincy in the away NZ series was excellent apart from the 3rd test where I still believe he should have made Eng bat again and (as proven) batted on for too long , but I liked his aggressive intent

    @Ramachandran Narayanon (August 13, 2013, 14:44 GMT) If your reckoning is true then it's true of all cricket nations bar maybe SA. Maybe Eng batsmen are just that little bit less brittle and bowlers a little bit more up to the mark than other nations

  • PTtheAxis on August 14, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    england have a much stronger team and still the series has been very close. that tells you all you need to know about cook's captaincy. give clarke this england team and cook this oz team and there will be a complete rout. who will rout who is selfevident. cook is getting to be in dhoni mode. chasing the ball and no imagination. if england have gotten wickets its just because of bowlers bowling unplayable balls rather than any field setting pressure. even if the plan is to bowlshort balls into the ribs for pup etc there have been no close catchers (forward short leg etc) to be seen anywhere. any decent batting side will take this england side to the cleaners and aussies showed that in the 1st innings of 3rd test.