Friday, January 29, 2010

A shyness that is criminally vulgar

The problem with Alistair Cook as captain, is that it's very difficult to perceive of him as captain.

Tortured logic, I know, but let me try and explain.

Think back at recent English skippers. After a few tests you could almost see the ones who would make a decent captain - through their attitude and demeanour on the pitch, their record with their county and the general way they went about things.

Vaughan - very clever, excellent tactical brain and quietly dominant.
Nasser - Sparky and feisty - exactly what England needed at the time.
Athers - Similar to Vaughan, slightly more cerebral.

All three of them were talked about as 'future England captains' (Atherton from about the age of 15 if you take the 'FEC' story seriously) and when they were it made perfect sense and you could actually picture them as England skipper.

The two recent standout exceptions are/were Botham and Flintoff - but that's a whole different story. With both, you doubtedly their tactical ability but accepted that they lead from the front and seek to lead by example.

But Cook? Sorry, but it just doesn't compute. 'Shy' might be a stretch (though any excuse for a Smiths related headline) but you never get the impression that he's doing anything more than what he has to out on the field - keeping his own counsel and generally staying below the radar. Andy Flower has spoken of him being 'impressive in the dressing room', which sounds both risque, and very much like the 'looking good in the nets' bullshit that Duncan Fletcher was oddly addicted to.

When he first appeared on the scene, I celebrated on this very blog (and other peoples) that here was a batsman who could become the true heir to Sir Geoffrey. Not the rentaquote quality that often descends to simplistic boorishness and, sadly, xenophobia, but the single minded determination to occupy the crease for as long as possible and accumulate runs.

After a few years of plenty, he got found out by bowlers as being iffy outside the off stump - and has only really recently recovered, by totally remodelling his technique. Do England really want to jeopardise all of that by making him skipper?

What's the rush? Cook hasn't even skippered his own county side for heavens sake, so why not let him give that a try at the start of next season and build up some experience.

After all, he might not actually like being captain. I can speak from experience here and say that some people don't, and actually prefer to spend their time down in the ranks - happy to give their point of view when asked, contribute to the team ethic and atmosphere, but otherwise concentrate on their own game. You need a certain mindset and attitude to be a decent captain, and it's no particular shame if you haven't got it.

Why not let Colly do it in a caretaker role for a couple of tests?


Brian Carpenter said...

Great title - and I agree with virtually every word.

I just can't shake the feeling that he's not going to be very good (but I hope I'm wrong).

Anonymous said...

Shyness is nice but shyness can stop you from doing things in life you would like to.