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Alastair Cook should take decisions and be more assertive with his captaincy, says Shane Warne

Shane Warne believes that Alastair Cook (above) should be more assertive with his captaincy © Getty Images
Shane Warne believes that Alastair Cook (above) should take guidance from past players © Getty Images

Jan 8, 2014

Legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne known for his tactical brilliance gave his views on Alastair Cook’s captaincy and noted that he can take advice from past captains.

Shane Warne wrote in his column the Telegraph, “Cook has an opportunity right now to put together an off-field team he believes in and the England and Wales Cricket Board should let him decide who he wants in or out. Then Cook should sit with the selectors and suggest the players he wants to be part of the team.

Warne on how Cook can take advise from past captains to improve his captaincy skills, “I hope his off-field team contains Michael Vaughan in some capacity too as England  look to pull themselves together after an embarrassing Ashes series in Australia.

“In recent years England have shut the door on former players and followed their own instincts. Fine, but nobody knows everything about this complex game, ” he stated.

Warne praised Michael Vaughan’s captaincy during 2005 Ashes series and said, “The best England team I played against was Vaughan’s in 2005. The brand of cricket they played was exciting and aggressive.

“They had excellent strategies for Australian batsmen who were at the peak of their powers and were brilliantly led.

“He probably does not want an official role but could act as a mentor to Cook, who is lucky there are so many ex-England captains on hand to offer advice. Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, David Gower and Mike Brearley can all help to expand his knowledge, ” he stated.

Warne continued, “But he should not restrict himself to just English voices. Mark Taylor was a brilliant captain and Cook has another few weeks in Australia for the one-day series, giving him the chance to speak to Tubby.”

Warne recollected on how New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming had taken help from former Australian skipper Ian Chappell with regard to captaincy and wrote, “One of the first people Stephen Fleming consulted when he became captain of New Zealand  was Ian Chappell and he had a close relationship with Taylor as well. Fleming went on to become an excellent captain and Chappell’s advice was invaluable.

“I don’t think it would occur to Cook to ring someone like Chappell because he is from a different era, but his knowledge about cricket is deep and he knew how to lead a team.

“Taylor and Chappell are Australian but they would be willing to help Cook if he called and asked to take them out for lunch to pick their brains.

“Cricket is a family. I do not know anyone who would turn him down if he came asking for help, but he has to take the initiative and make the first move. When you are on the inside sometimes you do not see obvious changes that can be made.

“You live and breathe the same thing every day, which is why it is nice to have a diverse group of people to consult, even if just for confirmation that you are doing the right thing.  This is Cook’s moment to be bold.”

Warne also said that Cook should be more assertive and take crucial decisions, “He has already said publicly he wants to continue working with Andy Flower, but he has to make sure he plays a full part in the regeneration of the team and not allow the coach to dictate. The wins and losses go against Cook’s name.

“If England do not improve then Cook will be out of a job within six months, so if he is going to carry the can, he has to make sure he has the final say on the major decisions the team face. Take charge, Alastair, and build a cricket team of people you want by your side.”

England middle order batsman Kevin Pietersen has come under heavy scrutiny for his failures in Ashes 2013-14 series. Warne though, supported Pietersen and believed that he should be elevated to take over the role of being the vice captain of the side. He wrote, “I find it incredible that Kevin Pietersen could be a scapegoat. He did not have a great series, but he was not alone in that.

“Like Vaughan I believe elevating him to the vice-captaincy would get the best out of him for a couple of years. His relationship with Flower is not good but the coach should go before Pietersen.”

Warne wrote that England shouldn’t be tempted to make wholesale changes for their next series against Sri Lanka. He wrote, “I would not make wholesale changes for England’s next Test series against Sri Lanka in May and June unless a couple of young players, such as a Jos Buttler or Sam Robson, make a strong case for inclusion between now and then.

“I would leave Ian Bell at three and bring Joe Root in to bat at five. Pietersen stays at four and Michael Carberry deserves another chance to open with Cook.

He continued, “He did pretty well facing Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris with the new ball and it was not easy for him that at the other end was a captain struggling for form, burdened by leadership and unable to help him to make the transition from county to Test cricket.

“He should be given the chance to face Sri Lanka and India  this summer, which will be easier assignments. Jonathan Trott should not come back in yet, and neither should Matt Prior.

Warne spoke about England’s young leg-spinner Scott Borthwick and said that he deserves a longer run in the side. He wrote, “Scott Borthwick, the leg-spinner, deserves another chance, unless someone else makes a big impression on the Lions tour or takes wickets at the start of the county season, although that time is always hard for spinners.”

Warne also found time to give his opinion on Australia’s upcoming tour of South Africa, “As for Australia, the trip to South Africa  next month comes at a great time.”

“They can lay claim to having the best bowling attack in the world. They have young guys such as Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird and James Pattinson waiting in the wings.

“Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are good, but South Africa do not have Jacques Kallis any more and they lack a quality spinner.

Shane Warne concluded by writing, “Australia’s batsmen need consistency and will be tested but they should be on a high from the Ashes – only George Bailey’s spot at No 6 is open to question. They have a great chance to build a team that can go back to No 1 in the Test rankings.”

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