Alastair Cook has had a long lean run © Getty Images
Alastair Cook has had a long lean run © Getty Images

London: Former England captain Andrew Flintoff has said struggling current skipper Alastair Cook deserves fans’ as he goes through a “blip” in his career. Left-handed opener Cook, who only turned 30 in December, has scored an England-record 25 Test hundreds. But he not reached three figures for England in a Test for more than a year-and-a-half, with the ongoing first Test against the West Indies in Antigua — his 110th — seeing the Essex batsman dismissed for low scores of 11 and 13. But Flintoff, who bowed out of Test cricket when playing in the same 2009 Ashes-winning side as Cook, said the criticism of his former team-mate was unjustified.

“I get fed up of people having a go at Alastair Cook,” Flintoff told Sky Sports News on Thursday as he helped to launch this year’s English domestic Twenty20 Blast competition at Edgbaston, where he came within one boundary hit of winning the 2014 final with Lancashire.

“I was captain when Alastair came into the side,” the former England all-rounder added. “I got a lot of things wrong as England captain, but the one thing I got right was picking Alastair Cook. He’s one of England’s finest ever players. If you have a career spanning more than 100 Test matches, there are going to be blips along the way.”

Flintoff added: “But Alastair  will get through this. I’d like to see people outside the England team backing the lad. “It’s nice some time when you get a bit of loving from people, and I think that’s the only thing that’s missing with Alastair at the minute.” The 37-year-old Flintoff is uncertain as to whether he will return to Twenty20 action with Lancashire this season, having made a comeback in 2014 — five years after his retirement.

But he was more forthcoming regarding the England future of another former team-mate, Kevin Pietersen. The South Africa-born batsman was controversially axed by the then England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) hierarchy last year following the team’s 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.    But with a new set of officials now in charge at Lord’s, the 34-year-old Pietersen, himself a former England captain, has been given hope of an international recall should he make sufficient first-class runs with Surrey. “He wants to play Test cricket again, but he’s going to have to state his case,” Flintoff said. “You can’t just walk into a side — there are lads, especially in the batting order, in possession of places and performing.” READ: Kevin Pietersen scores ton for Surrey