This week’s Ryan Review focuses on one of the most annoying news stories to surface in the world of sport over the last week or so. Today we are focusing on the story and speculation surrounding the captaincy of England’s test captain, Alistair Cook. We currently sit here on the eve of the 5th and final test in India and the man who I would describe as – the greatest batsman England has EVER had (quote me) is being questioned and scrutinised beyond belief.
For me this is what English sporting fans and media do, they build up players to be great then tear them down without a second thought. Usually, when players give up their captaincy they walk away from International Cricket and if we push our world class opening batsman out of the door we are a joke of a sporting country. Let me break it down for you, Alistair Cook is the youngest player to ever score 7,000 runs, 8,000 runs, 9,000 runs and 10,000 runs in test cricket. He is 2 runs short of 11,000 test runs as it stands and he has the most test centuries for England, more than Botham, more than Gatting, more than Pietersen, Strauss, Trescothick, Flintoff, everybody. And it isn’t just with the bat where he contributes, in the 139 test matches he has played for England he has 140 catches to his name and let’s not forget his infamous 1 wicket in only 18 balls he has ever bowled in test cricket. A true legend of English cricket. But yet, there are calls for him to step down as captain. Step down as captain in a side currently being beaten in India, in Indian conditions that we aren’t prepared for throughout the order. No thanks.
If our minds are made up and Cook isn’t the man to lead us forward (fools!) then I hope and pray he decides to stay in the side as a ready and willing batsman, as he is still a huge asset to our side in the top order and in my opinion he is the ideal man to partner and nurture England’s new wonderkid Haseeb Hameed. At the ripe young age of 32 Cook still has a lot to offer in the England test side and in a – CLICHE ALERT – transitional period that England cricket is going through our batting line up is full of younger and more inexperienced players. With the chopping and changing we have seen this winter England are yet to find their perfect batting line up. In an ideal world Cook remains as captain and can build ahead to a packed 2017, culminating in another Ashes triumph (hopefully!). The next best scenario is Cook drops the captaincy but stays in the side (something South African batsman AB De Villiers has done recently) opening with Hameed. Runs galore!! Naturally, his replacement would be the King Joe Root. Cook would be a more than competent and noble assistant to the Yorkshire man. Together they can oversee the land and bring the likes of Keaton Jennings, Ben Duckett, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow into greatness.
It will be a difficult rebuild for an ageing England side following this defeat in India no matter who is captain but the last thing England need to do is force out their greatest ever batsman and player when he has a few years left in the tank for sure. Every single time Cook has been written off down the years he comes back with a flourish and produces. That level of consistency and mentality is frightening and pretty un-teachable; only the players themselves can react to hard times and react under pressure to reap the rewards. In his time playing for England, Cook has an average of 46.60 made up of 30 centuries, 12 of which make him man with most test centuries scored by an England captain – but yet people want him out. Madness. I will end with a nautical metaphor, Alistair Cook is the man to steady the ship whether he is the captain or the helmsman steering the captain and their vessel to glory.
England’s Winter Tour in India 2016/17 Dates:
5th Test: 16th -20th December, Chennai
1st ODI: 15th January, Pune
2nd ODI: 19th January, Cuttack
3rd ODI: 22nd January, Kolkata
1st T20: 26th January, Kanpur
2nd T20: 29th January, Nagpur
3rd T20: 1st February, Bangalore