Broad waiting in the wings as Cook’s grip on captaincy weakens
Any fan of Test match cricket could wax lyrical for hours about the 10 days of action the England and Sri Lanka series produced.
Ask for Alastair Cook’s views and, perhaps predictably, he’d likely rank playing dull cricket and winning the series (or drawing it) above being the losing captain in a seriously entertaining encounter.
Therein lies the problem. Cook is no longer allowed to think like that.
After the now famous “Woeful Winter” in Australia, England want to try and copy Michael Clarke’s vibrant cricketing blueprint.
During sections of the Sri Lanka series they managed an Aussie imitation, but it was never with Cook on the field. They scored their first innings runs at Lord’s at 4.40-per-over and accelerated towards a declaration in the second dig of that match impressively despite a middle-order collapse.
Cook wasn’t a part of either because he’s desperately short of confidence with the willow. His form – which has seen him go 12 games without a century – means the glare on his outdated captaincy style glows brighter than the side’s supermarket-sponsored whites too.
Bodyline tactics, sledging and mankading are all dotted along the history of this “gentleman’s game”. The concept of allowing a teammate to reach a milestone before declaring is perhaps the only true gentlemanly act in the game, and Cook’s pandering to Joe Root at Lord’s lacked cutting edge.
Then there’s the Lord’s lost overs, the refusal to declare late on day four in London and the frankly naive tactics the Essex man employed at Angelo Mathews for almost all of Headingley’s fourth day.
Sri Lanka’s first ever series win on these shores tempted a determined plea to continue as skipper from Cook and, considering the ECB picked him over Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen, his time isn’t quite up. But it’s coming close.
A natural successor among the ranks there isn’t. What there is though, is an aggressive senior cricketer with leadership experience who is far better equipped to put England’s new philosophies in place.
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