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England captain Alastair Cook finds a strong and unexpected support in an Australian — Peggy Zaman, a former tennis player, now settled in the US.
I’ve really had enough of all this banter and disparaging remarks about Alastair Cook’s captaincy in the recent Ashes tour. I’ve loved Cook since the first time I saw him. Before you start creeping out, it’s not that kind of love; I’m almost old enough to be his mum!
Cook’s accomplishments are remarkable for a 29-year-old. He announced his arrival on the world stage with knocks of 60 and 104 not out at the age of 21 on his Test debut. He then went on to score 1,000 runs in his first year. He became the youngest Englishman to reach 1,500, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 Test runs. In the 2010-11 Ashes campaign, he scored the second highest number of runs ever (766) in an Ashes series by an Englishman. The run-feast included a maiden First-Class double-hundred (235 not out), besides two other big hundreds.
Cook took over as England captain when Andrew Strauss retired in August 2012 and led his country to its first Test series victory in India since 1984-85. During the tour, he scored three Test centuries, reaching a total of 23 Test centuries for England. Cook was later awarded an MBE by the Queen.
Despite the lack of runs in the 2013-14 Ashes, Cook has age on his side to supplant Sachin Tendulkar as Test cricket’s highest run-getter. Cook is incredibly mature. He has resisted the temptation of dating semi-naked, toothpick models and married his childhood sweetheart. Strikingly handsome with dark brown eyes, Cook’s perfectly-chiseled jawline and pearly set of teeth makes him look a real dasher. He is England’s version of the 1990’s Aussie player Brendon Julian, but with a lot more matches and runs under his belt.
Cook has a fantastic temperament. One has never seen him emotional on the field. You never see him jump into the arms of his bowlers, wrapping his legs around their torso in happiness when the bowler gets a wicket. He plays the game in a very dignified manner and is a great ambassador not only for English cricket but for the game itself.
Cook should ignore all the degrading and negative comments from former cricketers and the public. When history looks back at this series, it will say Alistair Cook’s team lost 0-5, not Andy Flower’s. It’s not Flower’s decision whether Kevin Pietersen or anyone else is in the team; that decision should be Cook’s, who has to stop being a ‘Yes’ man.
Perhaps, both Flower and Pietersen need to go. Thankfully, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann are out of the team. England needs to discard a few more senior players who neither have the drive or the dedication to play hard for their country. A captain can only do as much as his players are willing to put out.
Currently the intensity level is non-existent in this English team. Most of the England players are out of form and some should have been on the plane back home with Swann. It will be less stressful for Cook with a more peaceful environment. England needs to bring in new players and strengthen the camaraderie factor. Youngsters like Ben Stokes have already proved how tenacious and talented they are. England needs a hungrier lot like Stokes. Here’s wishing Cook and his team all the very best of the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) ahead.
(Peggy Zaman is a former professional tennis player who represented India. Cricket is her first passion and she has in-depth knowledge of the sport. She is also a corporate lawyer and is undertaking an LLM specializing in intellectual property, fashion and sports law. She has a strong interest in legal issues in cricket. Peggy resides in the United States with her husband and three young kids)
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