Alastair Cook © Getty Images
Alastair Cook’s form in 2014 has been a concern. His poor run is a worry for England ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015 © Getty Images

Apart from leading the side, Alastair Cook has not done anything significant as a batsman in the last couple of years in limited-overs cricket to assure England solidity at the top of the order. Keeping the World Cup in mind, the wretched form of their captain is not helping England at all, says Devarchit Varma.

The last time Alastair Cook scored a century in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) was way back in June 2012, at The Oval against West Indies. Since then, Cook has played as many as 41 ODIs.

He has certainly chipped in with his contributions here and there — scoring eight half-centuries in this period — but has not performed as much as he would have liked. Had he not been the captain, such a long dry run with the bat at the top of the other certainly would have been treated as a matter of urgency and concern, and even perhaps axing from the national side.

But unfortunately, England continue to turn their face away from problems rather than tackling them and finding solutions. In 20 ODIs they have played this year they have lost 13. Cook has played in 16 of them, averaging below 30 and scoring one half-century, against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston. No side can afford to have an under-performing batsman at the top of the order, and with the World Cup impending, Cook’s poor run is only worsening England’s situation.

With teams such as India, South Africa, Australia as well as Sri Lanka taking the standard of the 50-overs format to a different level, England have found themselves out of contention many a time even before they have walk into a contest.

The first ODI against Sri Lanka this year was a good start for England, where they came very close to winning and starting an important series on a positive note. But the familiar batting collapses in subcontinent haunted England once again; as expected, it started with the wicket of Alastair Cook, who consumed as many as 17 balls to score only 10.

There are no doubts about Cook’s intent and his vision as England captain, but as the saying goes, action speaks louder than words. Time and again Cook has reiterated that he is the right man to lead England out from slump and help the young bunch of talented cricketers to become a part of a strong team and culture.

However, apart from the backroom work and the words spoken, he has not done anything substantial on the field — especially as a batsman. The English captain has received criticism from all corners, and despite the flak that he has taken because of his poor run with the bat, Cook continues not only to lead England but also open the innings in all formats he plays. There is nothing wrong with the captain opening the innings, but how long can England tolerate to see one of their openers flopping persistently?

Critics and experts are not ranking England very high; to make matters worse, they are touring Sri Lanka, who have been waiting quietly like a pack of hungry lion in their den to pounce upon the prey. England, with the current set-up, is nothing more than a sitting duck. If at all things have to improve, they have to be initiated by their captain Cook; that too, by scoring runs. One step at a time.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)