England’s summer may have started in dismal fashion, with their test series defeat to Sri Lanka following hot on the heels of Ashes humiliation last winter, but the 3-1 series victory over India certainly took the heat off Alastair Cook’s men and took some pressure off the captain. Now, however, a poor start to the ODI series has seen renewed calls for the Essex batsman to step down as limited overs captain. After a summer of shabby treatment in the media this seems to be one step too far.
Calls for Cook’s test match resignation following the humbling second test defeat to India at Lords came thick and fast. Former test captain Michael Vaughan suggested that Cook should stand down and take some time away from the game for his own well-being and to ensure that his career as an England batsman was extended. A similar call was also made by Geoffrey Boycott who highlighted Cook’s own poor form with the bat (a top score of just 28 in the first four tests of the summer) and suggested that his position in the team could become untenable.
Thankfully for Alastair Cook, and England, the hosts won the last three tests of the summer and the captain regained some of his batting form hitting three half centuries in his four innings. Despite this test-match turnaround, however, England’s defeat by 133 runs in the second ODI has seen Alastair Cook’s captaincy publicly called into question again- this time by his former teammate and ‘so-called friend’ Graeme Swann.
It is difficult to see what publicly criticizing Cook will achieve. He has already demonstrated his resolve once this summer and will fight to the death to hold on to his job- he will not go just because former teammates have called on him to resign. The constant criticism undermines Cook and will further damage morale and confidence within the camp. It is impossible to blame Cook for England’s results without also criticizing his players.
It is possible that Swann thinks that Cook thrives on criticism and ups his game to prove doubters wrong. Whilst this certainly seemed to be the case in the test series it is hard to imagine the trick working twice. Having played under Cook, Swann knows the England captain better than most and must appreciate the effect that his harsh words will have on his former teammate. Swann must also appreciate the job that Cook is trying to do leading an inexperienced team, decimated by retirements, forced absence and injury, against quality opposition.
No England cricket fan enjoys seeing their side humbled in the way that they were in the early part of the summer but it is time for the most respected voices in the game to stop airing their dirty laundry in public. Those with a view and a direct line to Cook should offer their support and guidance in private, not continue to undermine confidence in his leadership. Continued calls for Cook to quit will achieve little in improving England’s on-the-field fortunes.bet365 are currently offering odds of 4/1 on England turning the ODI series against India around.