LONDON: Stuart Broad yesterday insisted that Alastair Cook remained the right man to lead England in Test cricket as he all but disclaimed his own chances of leading his country in the five-day game.
England recently went down to a 1-0 defeat in a two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka, with Cook’s highest score in four innings a meagre 28.
That meant the left-handed opener had gone more than a year since scoring the last of his England record 25 hundreds, while his performance in the field on the fourth day in the second Test at Headingley — which Sri Lanka went on to win by 100 runs — led to criticism from the likes of Shane Warne and Geoffrey Boycott.
However, Broad — England’s Twenty20 skipper — said he was looking forward to seeing Cook get back amongst the runs in a five-Test series against India which starts at the Nottinghamshire paceman’s Trent Bridge home ground next week.
“I certainly think Cooky is the right man for the job now and once he gets one hundred under his belt I think he’ll get many more — I’m just looking forward to that hundred celebration when he does it,” Broad said at a news conference in London organised by series sponsors Investec.
“He’s a relaxed guy, there’s a few of us who have played long enough to know we’re in a stats and results-driven business so when you’re not scoring runs or taking wickets you expect a certain amount of flack.
“That won’t change until he scores a hundred and Cooky knows that.
“Obviously winning Test matches helps with his captaincy but even if we’re winning and he’s not scoring hundreds he’ll be getting a certain amount of stick.”
While India’s Kapil Dev and Pakistan’s Imran Khan enjoyed some memorable victories as a Test captain, England — with the notably unsuccessful exceptions of Ian Botham and Bob Willis — have rarely entrusted the honour to a new-ball bowler such as Broad, who would then face the issue of when best to bowl himself.
“As a fast bowler, captaincy is quite a tough thing over the long format of the game,” said Broad, who along with top-order batsman Ian Bell would be one of the most obvious successors to replace Cook as Test skipper.
“(West Indies’s) Courtney Walsh did it for a little bit, Bob Willis did it for a summer, (South Africa’s) Shaun Pollock.”
Broad, a dangerous lower-order run-scorer, added: “I do think Test captaincy is more suited to a batsman, who can stand at slip and get a feel for the game.”
Former India left-arm spinner Ravi Shastri, a member of the 1986 side that won a Test series in England, compared Cook’s position to that of David Gower, who 28 years ago was replaced as England captain by Mike Gatting during a 2-0 defeat in a three-match campaign.
“David Gower, another left-hander, was under tremendous pressure, so as an Indian player we would want this debate to carry on with Alastair Cook,” Shastri, speaking alongside Broad, said.
“All the players in our dressing room said was ‘don’t allow David to get any runs in the first Test or in the first three innings, let the pressure build,’ and it built.
“He lost his captaincy after that and India won the series.”
Turning to Cook, Shastri said: “He’ll get through this and get loads of runs for England and break all records.
“But do you want a captain who is not playing freely or do you want Alastair Cook, as a batsman, to go out and play freely and get runs for England?” AFP