England in West Indies 2008-99 January 24, 2009

Cook named Test vice-captain

Cricinfo staff

Come in No. 2: Alastair Cook will be Andrew Strauss's right-hand man for the Test series © Getty Images
Alastair Cook has been named as England's vice-captain for the Test leg of their West Indies tour. Andrew Strauss, his captain and opening partner, made the announcement as he named the team to play a St Kitts & Nevis XI at Warner Park.

England have not had an official vice-captain since Andrew Flintoff was in the role during the 2007 World Cup, a position he was stripped of after capsizing a pedalo in St Lucia. Cook's role is still on an informal basis, but he will take charge of the side if Strauss needs to leave the field at any point and it puts him in position to captain a Test if Strauss is injured.

"It is a very unofficial position, but it is another chance for me to gain some valuable leadership experience and help Straussy in any way I can," Cook said. "He will need support not just from me but from the other senior players as well and we do have a lot of leadership experience in the dressing room with three other guys who have captained England."

After the upheaval of recent weeks Strauss appears keen to have clear lines of authority in place and the choice of vice-captain seemingly came down to Cook or Paul Collingwood. Cook has been earmarked as captaincy material from early in his career, but has had little chance to try the role at county level because of his England commitments. In choosing him as Strauss's second-in-command for the four Tests, it is another clear break from the leadership team under Moores.

Collingwood had put his name forward for the role a couple of days ago and was probably considered the favourite given his captaincy experience with the one-day side. But he had his problems when he was leading the limited-overs team, most notably the controversial run-out of Grant Elliott during the ODI against New Zealand at The Oval. He has also spoken about how captaincy affected his game and was dropped against South Africa last year before saving his place with a century at Edgbaston on his recall.

"I want to be able to go out and 100% concentrate on my game," he said earlier this week. "It is hard enough with the technique I've got, I guess, playing and trying to succeed without thinking of too many other things."

Cook, who is also part of the Test management committee that Strauss has formed, takes on his position of added responsibility after a frustrating 2008. Although his return of 758 runs in 12 Tests, at an average of 36.09, is respectable enough, it hides the alarming regularity with which he has failed to build on promising innings. He struck eight half-centuries, but his highest score was 76 and he fell between 60 and 67 on five occasions.