Cricket: ‘Decision time for Cook’

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Alastair Cook must work out whether he can rediscover his batting groove whilst captaining his country, says Nasser Hussain.
Cook has failed to score a century in his last 26 Test innings following his dismissal for 10 to the seam of Bhuvneshwar Kumar on day two of the clash with India at Lord’s.
And former England captain Hussain feels the opener may have to reconsider his role as skipper in order to get back into the form that has helped him accrue 25 Test tons.
“Cook’s batting has gone downhill and I think he has got to seriously look at his position as captain and whether he needs it dragging him down,” said the Sky Cricket pundit.
“You only have so much energy in your day and because he is not a natural leader I think he is putting so much into his leadership and only leaving a little bit for his batting.
“If he didn’t turn up at The Ageas Bowl next week, would England miss him as a captain? Not really. But they are missing his guaranteed runs.
“I am sure there is a hundred just around the corner but he needs to decide whether he can get that hundred as captain.”
And another former England skipper Mike Atherton believes the current situation with Cook ‘cannot go on indefinitely’.
The Sky Sports pundit adds: “It’s gone on long enough. England have had an horrendous winter losing the Ashes five-nil, when his captaincy and run-making was poor, and that has continued into the summer as well
“It just feels it has reached crisis point now. Something may have to give soon.”
As for Cook’s chances of turning things around at Lord’s this weekend, Atherton went on: “It’s easy to say get some runs but it’s harder to do.
“Teams have started to work him out. They are giving him nothing to cut and pull, and nothing off his hip.
“They are pitching the ball up and getting him to play forward. It’s a real struggle for him. Run making is hard work and it’s taking a lot of mental energy from him.
“He’s not a natural instinctive captain and leader of men either and that’s also using up a lot of mental energy. He’s going to be a weary man at the moment.
“That’s why something has to give eventually. If you’re not getting runs and the team’s not winning – and England are on their worst run, a non-winning streak, since 1992/93– that combination cannot carry on for ever.”
England ended day two in London on 219-6 and trailing their opponents by 76, though their plight could have been worse if not for a second successive Lord’s century for Gary Ballance (110).
Andrew Strauss – who, like Ballance and Jonathan Trott, reached three figures in his first two Tests at the Home of Cricket – feels the hosts underperformed with the willow on a batting-friendly track.
And the ex-Middlesex man says Cook’s charges will now be looking nervously at the patches of rough that are beginning to develop on the wicket as they prepare to bat fourth.
“There is still a bit of green so the odd ball is moving around but you are looking at this pitch as a batsman now and thinking ‘I can score runs on this’,” said Strauss.
“The ball is coming through a bit quicker so while that makes it harder for the batsmen to react if there is a bit of deviation, it means the ball is coming onto the bat nicely.
“The indentations are not as pronounced as they were in Thursday afternoon with the heavy roller having gone on the pitch and the track is now very dry and dusty, which is unlike Lord’s.
“Lord’s doesn’t tend to turn but there is a lot of rough and that will get bigger and bigger as the game goes on and become difficult for England’s left-handers in the final innings.”
Twirler Ravindra Jadeja could, therefore, be India’s ace in the pack when England bat again but it was Kumar (4-46 from 23 overs, with nine maidens) who posed them most trouble in their first knock.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly saluted the 24-year-old for dismissing Cook, Sam Robson, Ballance and Ian Bell, fresh from collecting 5-82 in the opening Test stalemate at Trent Bridge.
“Kumar doesn’t have the pace to keep bouncing you but on this pitch it has worked for him to keep the ball on a good length,” said Ganguly.
“He sticks to his limitations and utilises them to the maximum and he could have been even more dangerous on Thursday when the pitch was greener.”

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