Alastair Cook’s stint as England cricket captain had run its course before the drubbing in India.
Losing to Bangladesh, no matter how far that country has progressed was the low point of last year, a year which had more low points for English cricket than many before. Well it had more defeats.
And then they got thumped by India. Maybe it was good that Cook stayed on for that debacle so that it wouldn’t taint the incoming captain.
But would it have been such a debacle with another man in charge?
Cook’s distrust of spinners since Swann retired and his lack of anything remotely resembling a plan other than spread the field and hope, didn’t work. Someone with a plan, any plan, a plan of attack, might have.
And that’s the problem with Cook’s captaincy and why he can’t be ranked as a great England captain. Yes, count the number of wins but he did captain more than anyone else – see Beckham and England caps, no unfair Cook a far better player than that. And yes there was good series wins, the pair of Ashes victories and the previous tour of India.
In the early days it worked. Smack a load of runs first up, then rotate your fast bowlers at one end while Swann bowled maidens and took wickets at the other. As the runs dried up for him and the team and one end was leaking them when Swann departed, things started to drop.
A nice bloke, a good man manager, great with his team mates, they all played for him. Well it’s true for most but what post-Swann spinner wasn’t crushed by his captaincy. Moeen did OK but Rashid had come on leaps and bounds until Cook abandoned any pretence of trusting him or wanting him in the side.
Chucking the ball to Anderson, hoping all the conditions he needed to take wickets were in place, or Broad, hoping he could be arsed to do anything but try and bounce ’em with half trackers, wasn’t working so well. Stokes might have got him out of trouble, occasionally.
Struggling to find an opening partner didn’t help and that’s why he has to stay on as a player. He’s needed at the top of the order and should have a good few years in him. Two were brought through and looked to have worked over the winter. That could make a decent top three, so Root doesn’t have to keep going up and down the order, he can have a nice settled, middle order place in the order, giving him time to recuperate after time in the field before getting his pads on. Unless they carry on like they did in 2016, being four or five down with 20 to 30 on the board.
I say Root, it has to be Root. Who else? And from what little he’s done when Cook has been off the field and Root, being vice-captain, has taken over it shows there’s going to be a bit more life in the captaincy.
Something more than the tired, clapped out, plan A. Something more than just doing it by the numbers. Players moving in the order depending on how the game is panning out, not rigidly sticking to the places written on the team sheet. Not bowling A for so many overs, then B for so many overs, then back to A for so many overs. And not shouting scatter to the fielders as soon as a four is hit.
Cook did at least get one thing right, helping get rid of Pietersen…