Cook (Finally) Resigns As Test Captain

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After being given the luxury of six weeks to decide his future, Alastair Cook has finally decided that he has no future … as captain at least. He announced today that he’s stepping down from the role. Giving in to his critics can’t have been easy but it’s undoubtedly the right thing to do.

Although the captaincy never really suited Cook – it always struck me that he was made skipper because of his background and squeaky clean image rather than an ability to lead and inspire – he ended up captaining England in more tests than any other player. It’s an odd statistic as I doubt even his greatest cheerleaders would describe him as anything other than an adequate field general.

In my humble opinion captaincy was a role Alastair never looked comfortable in. The often repeated cliche that he ‘leads from the front’ says it all. He was never one for inspirational speeches or tactical masterstrokes – all he could do was go out there, bat all day, set an example, and hope others followed. It’s the very minimum a test cricket captain should provide. In fact, it’s the minimum every single senior player should provide.

So how will history remember Cook? It’s no surprise that Andrew Strauss, his philosophical twin, today described him as ‘one of our country’s greatest captains’. This is pure hyperbole of course. Cook the captain might be lauded for his longevity but everyone knows he’s a long way short of being England’s greatest. Indeed, a big reason why Cook captained England for so long is because there simply wasn’t anyone else. Indeed, this is probably the slogan that should be etched upon his captaincy’s gravestone.

The truth is that Cook was both a success and a failure as England captain. He was successful because he kept scoring runs (albeit fewer centuries) in the role. This is no mean feat. His performances with the bat in India back in 2012 were nothing short of superhuman. He should also be remembered for leading England to Ashes wins at home in 2013 and 2015, plus that surprising (if a tad fortuitous) victory in South Africa a year ago.

However, Cook also endured humiliation at the hands of these foes. The recent tours to India and Bangladesh were a shambles that ended in embarrassment. Cook’s flaccid captaincy and poor form with bat played a big role in these capitulations. Meanwhile, although Alastair led England to some team successes against the Proteas, his form with the bat against South Africa’s fearsome pace attack has always been subpar – averaging 31 in eight tests away from home and just 35 overall.

What’s more, Cook’s Ashes record is also extremely mixed. Although he skippered the side to wins in the last two home Ashes series, and played brilliantly down under in 2010/11, he averages just 29.6 with the bat at home against the old enemy (with zero centuries). And as a captain, he’ll mostly be remembered for that horrific 0-5 whitewash in which England completely fell apart both on and off the pitch. We need no reminding that Alastair was the only person at the heart of that debacle who survived.

The fact Cook survived the fallout of that Ashes disaster made me simultaneously admire him and somewhat resent him. I really think that KP-gate would have buried most men. The fact that he weathered the storm, and kept plugging away, despite a huge amount of criticism, says a great deal about his resolve. The fact he survived, and briefly helped to turn the team’s fortunes around, is extremely impressive.

However, unfortunately I can’t forget the way the establishment rallied around him either – especially as there seemed no reason, other than favouritism, why they should do so. Having put Cook on a pedestal for the duration of his career – and who can forget Giles Clarke’s stomach-churning remark about Alastair coming from the right sort of family – the ECB seemed to portray him as a champion of virtue and an antidote to the evil Pietersen. Not for the first time in his career, Cook was afforded luxuries other players never get. Why? Well, perhaps we should take Giles Clarke at his word.

Although Cook survived this saga, which was surely one of the most embarrassing political fallouts in English cricket’s history, the end has finally come three years later. Once again he was given a rare luxury (the ability to choose his own fate over a lengthy six period) but I won’t let this cloud my assessment of Cook’s tenure. After all, the bare statistics speak for themselves:

Alastair Cook led England to the second (equal) most test wins ever

Alastair Cook led England to the most test defeats ever.

There is no escaping this legacy. Cook’s record is mixed. Was he a good captain? No. Was he a terrible one? No (although he was occasionally terrible). Should he be applauded for steering England through some difficult times? Both yes and no. After all, the storm after the Ashes whitewash was partly of his making.

I guess I’d summarise Alastair’s tenure like this: over the last ten years Cook has become a fact of life of English cricket. He was anointed as England’s latest FEC (future England captain) at an early age – despite showing no particular aptitude or desire for the job – and he got the chance to fulfil his destiny when Andrew Strauss stepped down. As far as I’m concerned he did his stint in charge and now he’s gone. It’s that simple. I won’t remember him fondly but I won’t say ‘good riddance’ either.

My ambivalence might seem strange for someone who has written extensively about Cook over the years. And yes, it does seem a bit odd. The truth is that I’m too conflicted to write either a eulogy or something less flattering.

As an England supporter I’ll always be grateful for Cook’s runs. We’d have been lost without him (especially in recent times). However, I’ve always found English cricket’s infatuation and hero worship of Cook extremely cringeworthy. And I don’t think it’s always been deserved – although ‘deserved’ is the wrong word because Cook never asked for any of this adulation. I guess the exaggerations and the hyperbole just irritate me.

The bottom line is that Cook has always been a good but not great batsman. And he’s always been a very average captain. But in the coming days I fully expect to read reams of tripe comparing him to Mike Brearley and WG Grace. And therein lies the problem. The hype around him – an adulation I’ve always found a touch bizarre and a little nauseating – has ruined Alastair Cook for me.

And am I the only one who finds it weird that they haven’t named Cook’s successor? They’ve only had six weeks to make a decision. It’s almost like the country needs a period of national mourning before we can gradually, reluctantly, and with heavy hearts, finally move on.

Anyway, at least Alastair can now go back to doing what he does best – opening the batting. And at least we can put this debate about his leadership qualities, and the precise amount of iron in his rod, to bed. At last.

It’s not before time. Anyone else would’ve been asked to resign immediately after Chennai.

James Morgan

146 Comments

  1. I think Cook’s a good man who has had a lot to contend with as England skipper, aside from purely cricket matters. That he coped so well with those off field matters, whilst keeping both his own counsel and his dignity, speaks to the character of the man, for me.
    I’ll remember his captaincy for the 2 Ashes wins & his series wins in India in 2012 and SA last year – particularly the Ashes win in 2015 and the SA series win as England’s chances had been comprehensively written off by some in both of those series before a ball was bowled.
    I wish him well and hope to see him scoring runs as England’s opener for years to come.

      • I would keep Cook an an opener. We’ll need his experience out there at the very start of every innings down under this winter.

      • Here Mr Morgan re his background. How did having a mother who is a teacher and a dad who works for BT, give him a head start against other candidates. As for squeaky clean, I didn’t know a pre requisite for the England captaincy was being a drunken, boorish, egotist. Oh hand on we had two of those already did we not. Flintoff and Pietersen.

            • I like Cook staying as an Opener as it separating him from Root so the there is more chance of a young player batting with an experienced player. Although I accept with England top order performance it will only be a matter of 15 mins until it won’t matter

              • Well if its Hameed he opens with than maybe the top order will right itself. We really haven’t had a top class opening partnership since Strauss went. But Hameed, looks the part. So here’s hoping that its the start of another beautiful relationship

          • Giles Falconer on

            I don’t think it fair to harp about Giles Clarke’s comment about Cook’s family background, unless you are discussing Giles Clarke. As far as we know, Cook neither asked for such a comment, nor has ever mentioned it.

      • Jennings has the technique of a 4 or 5, not an opener. I can see him in the test side but to open with him (except in extremis) would be a mistake.

  2. I think it’s more or less inevitable that, if he wants the job, Root will get it. I’m not sure that’s the best choice (we know little of Root’s captaincy skills), but there aren’t that many others in the frame. Not sure if Moeen would want the job or has the experience. I would, however, caution against an automatic assumption that Root should get the limited overs jobs too (if Morgan steps down). I’d give those to Buttler, who seems to have a knack for it (I’d give him the test job too if he was a guaranteed selection).

    • There are 4 possibilities for skipper ( I rule out Broad as unable to guarantee fitness with knee tendonitis, Anderson as too near the end and Stokes as unsuitable for too many reasons to list). The possibles are Root, Ali, Bairstow and Woakes (as they have solid test places and are the right age and fitness does not seem an issue).

      I generally think skippering from behind the stumps is a big ask (although I know several have done it). But I cannot see a strong argument for Bairstow in terms of proven captaincy potential and I would certainly not want him to give up the gloves (unless to Billings). Root and Ali have no captaincy record although it seems Root is pencilled in under the ‘buggins turn’ principle. They also have shown flaky decision making as bats which may be reflected in captaincy decisions. The only established player with a proven captaincy record is Woakes, who led the Lions to victory in Sri Lanka on what was praised as the happiest, most united England touring side in a long time. He also seems to have avoided any ties to particular cliques in the changing room and is always said to have a very even temperament.

      I would make Woakes captain (and have a wide smile on my face as the suits in Lords grind their teeth on hearing the brummie accent).

  3. A prime example of the “one of us” appointment syndrome that bedevils so many areas of life in the UK. He was a good batsman and, on his day, a very good one. However, his day became ever more infrequent and he often scored more slowly than was in the team’s best interests – crease occupancy without a good strike rate is of very limited usefulness in the modern game. As a captain, he was at best poor and often very poor, captaining by numbers and almost totally lacking in imagination and flair.

    • I’m not sure I completely agree with that, at least not in the last few years or so. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that “dasher” Alex Hales was chosen to be the counter-weight to Cook’s obduracy.

      What actually happened was that Cook scored much more quickly than Hales and Hales turned out to be mostly rubbish!

        • I would suggest that he had an easy enough start. But when the KP saga started, he was pilloried by an increasingly deluded and in some cases, deranged group of people. That period was the start of his viiification. He should have resigned after the 5nil. Whitewash, I wonder how he would be viewed now

  4. I don’t think he has given the luxury of waiting 6 weeks to decide his future. It was more that they were waiting for the odi and t20s to be over.

    A great opening batsman and an average captain of, in the absence of any credible alternatives, what was at times a fairly average side is how he should be remembered.

    • Ire? Is something other than unremitting praise considered Ire? I think you might have just underlined my point.

      Cook’s done nothing imho. Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve repeatedly absolved Cook from blame (even during the KP saga when I said he was in a weak position and no real alternative but to back the board). I’ve always seen him as a good foot soldier who is loyal to English cricket and is a model employee. I blame others (the ECB and certain members of the media) for creating a cult (for want of a better word) around him. None of which he asked for. It wasn’t Cook who said he was England captain because ‘he’s from the right sort of family’. I feel sorry for him in many ways.

      • indeed he didn’t, but his detractors brandish around like he said it himself, but as I said above, how does having a teacher as a mum and a BT worker as a Dad, give you the right sort of family. I don’t recall him being to the manor born.

        • Not on here they didn’t. He was privately educated both as a chorister and after. Mr Clark was responsible for the the unsavoury mantle thrown round his neck b. Cook wasn’t a Captain and was a disaster for England Cricket. A good batsman yes indeed. Captain? No. Lack lustre Strauss chanting Cook as victorious. Well he would wouldn’t he. England Cricket has always been about Establishment. All those who “play” the game ala ECB will do well. Buck the Establishment and watch the proverbial fly.

            • Why do you have to be so offensive with your comments. I am not blaming Cook but it is that to which Clarke was referring. That is the point.

              • So Clarke was referring to Cook getting a scholarship, and that made him worthy of being England captain So did Athertons or Gowers background impact on them getting the job.

      • oh I don’t think anyone should feel sorry for Cook. Record run scorer, record century maker, Ashes winning skipper in two series. Wins in SA and India. Records that may not be broken for a long time. He will play for another 2 or 3 years, form permitting and take those records onwards on upwards. So I think Cook will not be looking for you sympathy

  5. I will add that I still find his role in the defenestration of Pietersen inexcusable. It is a captain’s job to manage his team and ensure the most talented members remain part of it – not conspire with others to sack them over some petty incident. How different the matter would have been handled under Brian Close, Ray Illingworth or Mike Brearley – and how England would have benefited.

      • I am sure a man they used to call illtollah, would have been really reasonable after Kapers was caught texting the other side insults about his captain

        • totally agree Nick, can you imagine how Close and Illingworth would have reacted. Just had a thought, how do you think Boycott would have reacted to textgate. Now that would have been something to behold, would it not

          • I think the reaction of ‘Popeye’ Peter Willey would have been even more interesting given that he was the player who threatened to insert his bat up Botham’s rear end if he didn’t behave – and Botham wisely listened (as you would with someone who could reputedly bench press 300lbs.

  6. It is all very curious. Strauss was a good captain, with a team strategy (dry bowling, quickish scoring, sharp fielding) that worked for him, with the resources at his disposal (at least until he was undermined by Pietersen). Cook was not a good captain, and the good results that came during his tenure felt like the resources delivering results despite the lack of leadership. So the Strauss eulogy feels misplaced, if sincere.

    The absence of an instant appointment of Root (or some other candidate) must reflect misgivings about overloading the side’s best batsman, when he has little experience of captaincy to help the management guess whether this is a good bet. Root may himself have misgivings (none in public, though).

    The selectors know that it is a problem of the elite system that it denies captaincy experience to identified future internationals. If Cook were not soldiering on as a batsman, there might be room in the side for an experienced captain, although this is not a fashionable idea, and outside candidates are not thrusting themselves at the selectors. That said, Keaton Jennings is a dark horse, in that he has credentials in both diciplines, albeit not as much as one might like.

  7. People talk of all the special treatment they feel he has received but he has been captain for so many Tests because there has been no genuine alternatives since the Strauss era side feel apart. Even KP supporters are not suggesting he could have been Captain? Prior could have had a good if he body hadn’t been destroyed in service to English Cricket. Bell was never seen as captaincy material by the press even when Cook was at his worst in 2014.

    Even now the era that began in 2014 has scarce options with the volume of Cricket England play pace bowlers will never be appointed Captain. So its down to the top seven of Root eho has played 53 Tests and the next is Bairstow with 38 who has only just received his first Central Contract. Moeen Ali on 37 who has to change role every Test and then Ben Stokes on 32 before a long drop to Jos Buttler at 18.

    England are unfortunate that James Taylor a man they had groomed for Leadership has been forced to retire but even he wouldn’t have been able to talk over from Cook until around now anyway as he would have needed to establish his own place in the side.

    • Re “Moeen Ali on 37 who has to change role every Test”:

      Captaining the side is one of the few positions he hasn’t done, so surely his ever-changing role means he’ll be asked to do that at some point?

      Or maybe combine it with t’other role he hasn’t had a go at yet: Moeen Ali as wicketkeeper-captain, anyone?

      • Meanwhile at ECB Towers

        “Moeen why do you want the job?”

        “Well it was only this and groundsmen I hadn’t had a go at and I thought if I was captain I could finally answer the question of where my best batting position is instead of saying I will bat where ever the skippers asks”

        “Ok Mo what is your position on the declaration?”

        “Love them, would for it even if we were only 200 ahead and Jimmy was knackered”

        The interviewers wispier among themselves “Well that won’t do, what is Beefy Botham going rail against on Sky Sports”

        Speaking to Moeen again

        “That for coming in, we will see if Mick Hunt is ready to retire and call you back in then”

    • “Bell was never seen as captaincy material by the press”

      And there you show your naivety. The (main steam) press are the ECB message-promoters and they were at their height in 2014.

      Frankly I’d have been happier if they were rolling dice to choose the captaincy so poor was the incumbent. But no, Cook had to be protected and propped up at all costs. FFS – he was still the one day captain then for the same end. This isn’t a smear of Cook, just facts. As opposed to the factoids which large numbers of cricket fans seem quite happy to swallow by the gallon.

  8. People keep giving him credit for those ashes wins, but they were on decks that the aussies simply couldn’t bat on. The 2015 series, wasn’t it a record for the fewest amount of sessions before an ashes series was decided? And in 2013 the Aussies sacked their head coach a week before the first test!

    Strauss calling him one of the greatest English captains of all time is beyond hyperbole, how do you even begin to measure that?

    • England added to the speed of the series by totally collapsing in both the second and fifth Test. The overall quality was poor but it was very entertaining which must count for something

        • The winning really added to the entertainment, mainly due to getting to listen back to Shane Watson and Steve Smith at the IPL saying who England wouldn’t get close and they couldn’t wait to win in ‘Their backyard’

          • couldn’t agree more. I remember that press conference where Smith stated that he had all the bases covered and he couldn’t see beyond an Aussie win. Still, I will be down under again this winter for another month or so of banter and colourful exchanges with my antipodean chums.

      • Definitely true in England’s contribution, but it was and wasn’t entertaining for me. There just wasn’t the ebb and flow of a test match, everything was over too quickly. The entertainment was seeing Aussies capitulate and England capitulate slightly less worse but it lacked the tension, relief, belligerence and fightbacks I associate with test cricket

        • I think we were all spoiled by the 2005 series. We now expect them all to go to the wire, with a blinding catch, or an astonishing ton or over changing it all. Never seen a series like it. Have to say i did watch some of it from behind a sofa, especially the Edgbaston test.

    • Indeed Gav, what would Strauss know about cricket or captaincy. Not a clue really. He took England to No 1 in the world , won the Ashes down under, all on a fluke. He only scored 20 tons for England as an opener as well. I mean the nerve of Strauss coming out with an expert opinion, whereas you are a font of cricketing knowledge and genius are you not.

      • Calm down William just because I have a different opinion on Cook does not mean I do not rate anything Strauss has contributed to English cricket – I called his comment hyperbole because it is! How do you measure what the “greatest of all time” actually means? By reciting Strauss test record? I don’t think so. Perhaps take 5 minutes walk outside to cool your head before flying off the handle responding to points that weren’t even made?

        • I am totally calm Gav, I just find it strange, that here we all are, commenting on a sport we love. But not one of us have an iota of the ability of those we tend to disparage, or the knowledge for that matter. Just saying, that your opinion is just that, the opinion of someone who has all the cricketing knowledge of one of Struass’s setters. No offence intended of course

          • Well perhaps just engage in some actual debate with the rest of us instead of running to defence of the precious England elites. I have an opinion on what is hyperbole, or does knowing what hyperbole is only attainable with an international cricket career? How about explain why you think Strauss is correct with saying he’s the greatest of all time rather than saying I have no right to an opinion because I’m a nobody?

            • what precious English elites am i defending. As for you being a no body, i didn’t say so much. i just stated that if we were all so knowledgeable, why are we on here instead of coaching or playing the game at a top level.

              • well in my humble opinion, and its Uriah Heep humble, i don’t think Cook ranks in the top 10 of England skippers.

              • Strauss said “He deserves to be seen as one of our country’s great captains.” – I don’t know why – because of 2 home ashes series I guess, but I’ve already gone over why I think that’s a bit of a push giving cook’s captaincy the credit

      • This is beginning to deteriorate now. Let’s cut out the insults. Cricket is a game of opinions and debate makes the world go round.

        • It’s no problem for me, but it does seriously detract I guess for other people. I like this blog as it generates pretty healthy debate like I get chatting to randoms at a ground – where it’s civil and informative. I do think though that it’s reflective of what the Cook era and reaction to it is a bit telling as it seems to be defined more by the in fighting and dividing the England camp into separate parties rather than the actual cricket itself

          • Gav, i am not a fan of Cook the skipper, not in the slightest. But what gets me, is this hysterical witch hunt that has circled about his head since he took over the job. Its just not cricket in my view. I was a KP fan from the get go. I witnessed his fifty at Lords and his Ashes winning ton at the Oval. He was without a shadow of doubt, a dyed in the wool genius. But he thought he was bigger than the sport and the team. So who to chose as skipper, I will go for the one who upsets the equilibrium of the side. So I held my nose and thought Cook the only choice at the time. I am glad he is gone and hope he will carry on as an opener and scores shed loads of runs for a few years yet.

            • Personally I don’t remember the negativity when he was appointed captain, I remember a lot of people accepting it would be a while for him to grow into the role as he hadn’t had any captaincy experience before that. Infact, he was instrumental in bringing Pietersen back into the side. It never felt like we got past the “he’s just learning” stage

              I do think his leadership was weak though on that horrific Ashes tour down under. The ECB had people sat in on team meetings making reports about Pietersen looking fairly disinterested during a meeting. The ECB report was almost as farcical as their attempts to just tell everyone to shut up complaining and accept that they had sacked him. A strong captain would be telling them this is his dressing room and he can be trusted with knowing if they should or shouldn’t be in the side, pull the player to one side and encourage/discipline him and then decide enough’s enough. But they had to send an underling instead.

              The whole thing was the ECB’s mis-management and rank amateurishness mixed with their utter contempt for the ordinary cricket fan, but nobody left that tour with any credit. I felt it was a good moment for a complete change after such a dismal tour, easily the most miserable tour of my cricket following life

              • have to agree with a lot of what you say. That tour was a disaster and his skippering was pathetic. I am amazed he survived it to be honest. Your comments re his rehabilitation of KP always makes me wonder why so many of the KP supporters are on Cooks back, seeing that he was instrumental in getting KP back into the side. I mean without that, we wouldn’t have witnessed that fantastic ton of KP’s in India, surely on of the greatest scored there or anywhere for that matter. As for dismal tours, well i took my son down for the 2006 tour and we know what happened there. Still we got to watch some great cricket, Gilchrist going for the fastest ton in Perth, Cook’s ton in Perth and Warnes’s 700th wkt at the MCG. I suppose sport is all about wanting to see the true greats in action even if its against the side one supports and that side is getting a tanking. Other than that, it was a great tour for my boy and i. Plus i am off again this winter for this series as well. Cant wait , should be a cracker

          • That’s a good point Gav. Perhaps this is Cook’s legacy. A divided team and fan base? It’s all quite strange as Cook himself is quite vanilla (in both a good and bad way)!

            • well I support England no matter who is in charge. I don’t believe in the cult of personality in any walk of life. Plus I am lucky enough to have a large does of perspective and like Kipling said, I can treat the twin imposters etc etc James

            • James, you, above all, should recall that Jonathan Agnew has told us that Pietersen’s rehabilitation after text-gate was driven not by Cook but by Flower. Then again, Nick Hoult at the Telegraph, who has a very good record on such matters, reported at the time that the ECB’s hand was forced by legal considerations. The truth, like so many thing relating to Pietersen’s downfall, may never be known, though the credit does seem to oscillate this way and that depending on who is in most need of a headline. All of which ignores the question, why was Pietersen so ostracised for an offence that was neither admitted nor proved? Hence Hoult’s entirely believable story.

      • Northern Light on

        William seems to think that one’s opinion is pretty worthless if one has not played test cricket for England.
        One wonders why William comments on cricket at all, since one assumes William is not a current or former test cricketer.

        • Not really, i just stated that we all gave opinions on sport as if we are all experts, when in fact all we are somewhat well informed fans. That’s all.

  9. Perhaps the establishment rallied around Cook because he is/was a decent person, doing his job to the best of his ability, under difficult circumstances. That is not ‘favouritism’.

    • I’m sure he’s all those things Jenny but it’s a bit hard to ignore Clarke’s comments. That was a game changer for me. Looking at the way the ecb has operated over a long period of time (decades) it’s not always a meritocracy and politics often comes into it. Sad to say.

        • I think Cook was one option. But there were other senior players around at the time (Prior, Bell, Broad etc). I’ve never said Cook shouldn’t have been made captain. I fell into the ‘he’s got no experience and see how he does camp’. What slightly bothers me is the process by which he was anointed (despite having no experience) and the fact that he’s stayed in the role for so long. I don’t dislike Cook personally at all, I just don’t like what I perceive as the special treatment he’s had over the years – both as a bat and a captain. In my opinion he’s always had a longer rope than other players. We can speculate as to why that is.

          • well for whats it worth, I don’t think there was any other choice at the time. Bell maybe, but Prior or Broad, not for me I’m afraid. But as for growing into the role, I personally think he should have gone after the 5 nil whitewash. I don’t know how he survived that one. I honestly believe he took his present decision because it was in the process of being taken out of his hands. But for me he will always be an extremely fine batsman, who admittedly, did not face the great bowlers of yesteryear. His ton in Perth was against McGrath, Warne and Co. But that was his only ton against all time greats. But if you had given him all this at the start of his career, I bet he would have snapped your hand off. I quite like him personally, as he was ever so nice and chatty to my young lad when we met up in Australia. Came over a really nice down to earth bloke.

  10. “We need no reminding that Alastair was the only person at the heart of that debacle who survived”.

    Except of course Andy Flower very much survived – he was moved sideways into a job he’d made clear he wanted anyway.

    • Do you think Flower wanted to step down as coach? Personally I don’t but it’s possible I guess. He had talked about time away etc and the desire / need to skip games etc.

      • They had Giles coaching the ODI side but not really in charge to lower Flower’s Workload so its not a big leap to think he was thinking about the end.

        On the one hand I feel that the Flower legacy has rather been lost the T20WC win, talking over a side in chaos and guiding them to an Ashes win 6 months later against an proficient Australian side and then going on to World No 1. Maybe its because the perceived wisdom is that is methods were a bit draconian plus KP is had used his PR skills against him and Flower hasn’t been able to or not wished to fight back.

        Certainly the 5-0 loss has stuck to him longer than Fletcher who also ended on a 5-0 loss in Australia and that tour was not without incident with reports Flintoff was drunk at practise sessions.

        • re you comments about Flintoff being drunk at practice. My son and I were down for that series. We were eating lunch in a quite delightful restaurant near the Rocks in Sydney just after the 5th Test. Got chatting to the manager and his bar manager who told us that Freddie had to helped out of the bar on the eve of the 5th Test, He had been having a late supper with Ian Botham.

      • He knew what a pig’s ear he made of the situation in Australia. Far easier to get a decent job out of the limelight. I don’t however believe Flower would ever leave a job of his own volition. Still he did alright. He was part of the acceptable establishment.

  11. He didn’t ask to be captain, but he could at least have shown the position the respect it deserved by at least trying to be good at it, or pretend to care about it.

    At no point in his tenure did I ever think he would have swapped personal success for team success, which is pretty much the bare minimum you would expect of any captain.

    The captaincy for Cook was just a way to avoid getting dropped, and thus allowed him to pursue the only thing he ever cared about – personal statistical milestones.

      • Cooks number 1 priority:

        In his autobiography Cook explained that as a kid all he cared about was batting, “and I did not want anything getting in the way of it”.

        Cook’s thoughts on the relative importance of captaincy vs scoring runs:

        “My efforts would be better directed towards trying to get runs for the team, than trying to be a young Mike Brearley.”

        Cook reflects on what he considered to be the most important aspect of a team performance:

        “the biggest thing for me was that I batted for five hours in the first innings for 142.”

        • so from a ghost written biography, and those very ambiguous sentences, you have deduced that he only took the captaincy in order to avoid being dropped and be a record breaker. I say, there are vacancies at Scotland Yard for such perceptive fellows as yourself.

          • Autobiography which is entirely different from a Biography. Cook said it and therein lies the heart of the matter. Why you have to be so offensive to ABs comment is beyond me.

              • I cannot see where AB made that inference at all. If Cook said it was his number one priority then that is what he meant.

        • @AB
          ‘In his autobiography Cook explained that as a kid all he cared about was batting, “and I did not want anything getting in the way of it”.

          You quoting, in a vain attempt to deride him, something Cook said when he was a kid is very, very funny. Although I’m fairly certain you didn’t mean it to be.
          Still, good to know you read the book.

          • Such a silly comment. Cook wrote this in his Autobiography. Do you seriously think he would have said that had he not meant it? Just utterly daft.

            • @Simply Shirah
              You’re seriously telling me that what people say as children should be re-visited on them as adults?
              Really?

        • Such a silly comment. Cook wrote this in his Autobiography. Do you seriously think he would have said that had he not meant it? Just utterly daft.

        • Therein lies the problem for Cook. It was a terrible mantle for Cook to carry forced upon him by Clarke. Clearly it wasn’t really for him, but he would have seen it as an honour. However Clarke used him and he was the one to suffer most at Clarke’s hands. Clarke’s comment: from the right sort of background and right sort family was probably the worst mantle for him to have to carry. If anyone needed to be shown the door it was Clarke.

          • Thanks very much, Neil – those quotes of AB’s take on an entirely different meaning when read in context. Strange that AB didn’t put the link in his comment….

  12. Why is Stokes not being mentioned more as a potential captain? I know that injuries make him a risk but is he not the exact kind of character who could inspire all? His attacking mind set and ‘anything for the team’ attitude might be exactly what this lot need? He also has the balls to stick up to Broad and Anderson.

    Root seems an obvious choice but I wonder if we will see him still smiling and enjoying the game the way he does in a few years time if he takes it?

    Its worrying that none of the new crop have decent experience captaining in the counties before they take the most important job in English Cricket…

    • Reckon its just a workload issue, with already having to work on both batting and bowling to a specialist standard and he most also do a fair bit of fielding work given he is one of the players they try and move to the important positions. Plus who really wants Ben Stokes doing the bean counting jobs?

    • I know that intelligence and good judgement are not always needed in a captain but I find it hard to see a man who breaks his hand punching a locker as a good choice. For me Stokes comes into the Flintoff category – somewhat overrated based on occasional winning performances (with too many failures in between) and with a dodgy temperament.

  13. Captain of our first home series defeat against Sri Lanka, and first Test defeat against Bangladesh.

    Easily the worst England captain – from a tactical, leadership point of view – since the 4-captain debacle of 1988 gave us Chris Cowdrey.

  14. This news was expected and is completely the right decision.
    The results of the last 12 months made his position untenable.
    It’s been a rollercoaster ride under cook, I will leave it to others to dwell on the negatives, for know on the day he stepped down I’d rather remember the positives.
    Being called one of our greatest ever captains does seem a little OTT, but not many have series wins in India and South Africa under the belt.
    Also the small matter of 2 home Ashes wins.
    He (and many other) may never better his first series in charge, leading from the front by scoring runs in the series win in India.
    That first innings ton in a losing cause was instrumental in showing the others that there was nothing to fear.
    His critics always point out he was poor tactically, but England always out a strategy to follow. That doesn’t encourage out of the box thinking whether capable or not.

    I think Cook has held on for 12 months too long, but now he has gone it’s time to look forward. I think Root will make a cracking captain, and I hope he has his former captain back in good form helping him set up test match victories.

  15. How about this for an interesting idea? Bring back Ian Bell as stand in captain until Root is ready. Bell now has captaincy experience for his county; has much more test experience than any of the potential others in the top eight; and would hopefully sure up the middle order a bit.

  16. Cook was an ordinary captain, great bat and a better than average slip fieldsman. Putting the captaincy behind him, he now has the rest of his career to see where he fits in history, which will be kind.

    Australia are sad that he has resigned…..

    Fancy being an England captain and compared to WG disGrace – WG was a cheat and a disgrace, yet weirdly many people stick him up on some mighty pedestal. Unless that pedestal is longer than it appears…….

    • There is a great tale about Grace, Doug. It seems he was batting on a very windy day. He was bowled by one that just kissed the top of the off stump and the bail after a second or so fell out. Grace turned to the umpire and said “Very windy today isn’t it” To which the Umpire replied “indeed it is, watch it doesn’t blow your hat off on the way back to the pavilion “

    • That’s because WG Grace has the finest test record in the game. 22 tests – no dismissals. Not even Bradman can boast that

      • He was a one. I do find it quite strange, the Victorian attitude regards cricket. You know, play up and play the game, walking, all that cricket is meant to represent, the essence of sportsmanship and all that. Yet old W.G. who was meant to epitomise all of that, cheated like it was going out of fashion.

  17. A true Vic ‘Splinters’ of a post, without even the ‘Marks’ of a ghost
    The annointing of Cook and his all disappointing Craptaincy
    Held our team as it evolved back once ,twice, thrice, muddled mediocrity, the score
    But decisions he was involved in, revolved in derision, Comma Cnut, MSM bores
    Should have been sacked for the lack of leadership in 13/14 Aus
    Wasn’t because, because, because?
    Should have been sacked after this winter’s patheticity
    Wasn’t, because, Comma, MSM, complicity
    Nice family, never a leader (should have picked Alice)
    She’d have shot the elephant in the room, no malice 🙂

  18. James, you don’t mind if I call you James. Can you imagine what blogs like this one would be like if they were around at the time of the start of World Series Cricket. The Grieg issue alone would have made the KP issue pale into insignificance. As for rebel tours. Well I think you would have run out of space

    • I suppose as we live in this time of dreadful social medial we will never know how exercised the public really was or how divisive all those rebel tours, WSC, Boycott not touring, actually were. Do you think that the Cook, KP, saga is the most divisive incident to happen to English cricket or is it just one of those moments in time, that I have just mentioned, that will be forgotten about?

  19. If Eoin Morgan was on the test team he could be a good captain. Root seems well equipped for the job but will the captaincy affect his batting?

  20. Pete Cresswell on

    Cook won 41% of tests in charge, lost 37% – By comparison
    Strauss won 48%, lost 22%
    Vaughan won 51%, lost 22%
    Hussain won 38%, lost 33%
    Brearley won 58%, lost 13%!

    Filtering out England captains with <10 tests in charge (leaving 31 captains), Cook has the 10th best win %, and the 10th worst loss % #stats

    And if you filter out draws (since they've become much less common in the last 20 years), his win:loss ratio is 52.1% – 17th out of 31, 1 behind Nasser Hussain (granted, ahead of all of the poor sods who lead England through the 80's and 90's slumps – Gower, Gatting, Gooch, Stewart, Atherton). Vaughan and Strauss are 7th and 8th,

    Speaking as a New Zealand fan, I'd have loved it if Cook was a Kiwi batsman. As a captain, not so much.

  21. Great to see those captains’ stats from Patrick above. Oh for an England captain with Cook’s powers of concentration at the crease and Mike Brearley’s emotional intelligence, man management skills and tactical nouse. Obviously, Brearley had some great players to captain, but I agree with Patrick above. Cook has been a solid, good opening batsman over many years but he hasn’t been a great captain. I think Neil was right too about Cook staying on for a year too long, it has been a bit dismal these last 12 months. England are in a bit of a mess, too many batting collapses and poor performances, it will not be easy against the talented South Africans later this year. I think the ECB will go for Root and I wish him well and hope that he will rise to the challenge, not suffering a loss of form. Cook will need to make lots of runs too, if he has a terrible series against SA then he shouldn’t go to Australia for 2017-18 Ashes.

  22. Amazing how lacking in cricketing knowledge some of these posts are ….. A captain is very often only as good as the tools at his disposal …… nobody takes into account that when Cook took over the reins he did so not only as Strauss retired but more crucially Swann also, and despite the commendable efforts of Moin trying to step up, the lack of an international class spinner makes it impossible to compete in the sub-continent …. couple that with the constant failure to adequately replace Strauss at the top order and the failing at no 3 of Ballance and others plus the loss of Pietersen due to his own constant petulance and adverse affect on the changing room that left no option but for his sacking ….. often left England recovering from 3 down for not very many …… at the end of the day Cook never sought the Captaincy but there was nobody else more suitable, he made the best of what he had and should be commended for not only seeing the team through a tough transitional period but also (& another fact easily overlooked on here) captained the team to an ashes win against ALL odds when nobody gave them a prayer ….. I hope Root does well and his batting is not adversely affected by the burdens of responsibility and that Cook helps him with a mountain of runs over the next few years …… as to when Cook should step down from the test team for good well the answer is easy …… when England have 2 openers as good or better than he is

    • Madaboutcricket on

      Agree a skipper is only as good as the players but when said skipper can’t lead enough to even have said best players on th pitch….

      England now have a test team full of white ball players and a few over rated players.. hardly through transition

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