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Shane Warne: Alastair Cook responsible for ‘worst day’ of international captaincy

Alastair Cook captained England to a 1-0 Test series defeat against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Alastair Cook captained England to a 1-0 Test series defeat against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

London: Jun 27, 2014

Australia great Shane Warne has launched a fresh attack on Alastair Cook‘s leadership abilities, saying he should either quit the England captaincy or take a break from all cricket. Warne said Cook was responsible for the “worst day” of international captaincy he’d ever seen during the course of England’s 100-run second Test defeat by Sri Lanka at Headingley earlier this week.

“There are three ways to go with Alastair ‘Cooked’ Cook,” Warne wrote in his column in Friday’s edition of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“Everyone sticks their head in the sand and just allows things to keep going as is and hope he finds form with the bat and by a miracle discovers some tactical brains from somewhere. Two: he steps down from the captaincy to concentrate on his batting. Three: the most radical of all, he has a complete break away from the game.

“Lots of people, including me, think it is time for him to step down as captain.”

It is now more than a year since Cook scored the last of his England record 25 hundreds, a sequence that includes leading the team in their 5-0 Ashes 2013-14 series loss in Australia.

“He does not know what to do and because he is in a rut with his form it makes life a lot worse,” Warne said.

England’s defeat at Headingley on Tuesday gave Sri Lanka a 1-0 win in the two-Test series after the tourists clung on for a draw at Lord’s. The match slipped from the hosts’ grasp on the fourth day when a superb Test-best 160 by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was followed by an England collapse to 57 for five.

England’s last-wicket pair of century-maker Moeen Ali and James Anderson took the match to the penultimate ball before Sri Lanka sealed victory. But during Mathews’s key eighth-wicket stand with Rangana Herath on Monday, England seemed more interested in getting the latter on strike than dismissing the Sri Lanka captain.

And Warne said: “On Monday at Headingley I witnessed the worst day of captaincy I have ever seen at international level in almost 25 years in the game.

“It was horrific, and I am not the only one singing that tune,” added Warne, whose tally of 708 Test wickets is the second-highest of all-time.

“He just does not get it. Everyone watching could see the game needed a change of pace; bowl the spinner or make the seamers try and actually get Angelo Mathews out. You just cannot bowl the same stuff over after over like he did — good captains try things and are proactive, not hopeful.”

Prior to the second Test, 29-year-old opening batsman Cook said “something needs to be done” about the constant criticism he’d received in three years as England captain from leg-spin legend Warne.

But Warne, insisted his comments weren’t motivated by personal spite or a desire to destabilise England, Australia’s oldest cricket rivals.

“This column is not a personal attack and never has been, Alastair. Mate, you need to improve tactically or England need someone else in the job.

“And I am not the only one saying it. Please speak to [former England captains] Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and other successful captains who were tough, ruthless and got it.

“Also, if I was an Aussie cheerleader, as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) thinks I am, I would not be criticising Cook. I would be saying keep him in the job because that would be the best thing for Australia during the Ashes next year.

“I have always been open to talking to Alastair, like I always have with any other player from any country, if they wanted a chat over a beer.”

Cook is now set to lead England into a five-Test series against India starting at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on July 9.

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