Alistair Cook’s role as England captain has been under scrutiny for some time now following the Ashes whitewash in December last year, the test series loss to Sri Lanka at home, and finally for his somewhat negative tactics at times against India in the opening test this summer. This build up of poor results have lead many pundits to question his captaincy or even call for his axe. Is this the case or is Cook still the man to continue to lead this fresh-look England side forward?
Ultimately, Cook’s role as England captain is very much hinged on this summer of cricket. If in the next four tests against India he makes some runs and gets a series win, then all of this pressure and scrutiny that he is currently receiving will just disappear. It must be remembered that Cook is captaining a young and re-building England side, with the average age being just 25 and 6 of the side only receiving their first England call ups within the last 2 years. Therefore, many of the pundits who have recently been criticising Cook perhaps underestimate the challenge that he is currently undertaking, just think of the players that England have lost in the last few years due to injury or retirement; the likes of Strauss, Trott, Pietersen (that’s a whole different story), Swan and Bresnan.
However, although Cook does have a difficult challenge in his hands, there are perhaps too many ifs and buts in some of the choices he has made recently in his captaincy to suggest that he could be doing a better job. The ifs include the decision to drop Kevin Pietersen from the England squad: would he have made a difference to England’s recent results- personally I think not. Another if includes Cook and the selectors decision to keep the faith with out of form wicket keeper Matt Prior: if they had gone with the inform Jos Buttler would that have changed England’s fortunes? The buts include Cook’s frankly awful form with the bat, some of his questionable field’s in games and what seems a negative and defensive mentality, with it often seeming that the skipper would much rather take the safer option of a draw rather than risk the game for a victory at times.
Nevertheless, despite the recent criticism from the pundits, it is still felt by many that Cook is the right man for the job. Wether that is because people still have confidence in him, or because many struggle to think someone who can replace him we will never know. Ultimately, confidence breeds confidence, and if Cook can find confidence with the bat, then he will be more confident in his captaincy, if he is more confident in his captaincy then that confidence spreads throughout the team and ultimately gives the England side more of a chance of victory. Cook needs time to find a purple patch again, and therefore it’s not the time for Captain Cook to walk the plank just yet.