Over the last few years, England cricket team’s most successful skipper, Alastair Cook, was wilting under stress and pressure. Long-time critic Ian Chappell had always called him a defensive captain, a weakness that began to surface quite frequently in recent times. Here’s a look at the recent series that did him in.
Nothing broke England’s morale more than the 2013-14 Ashes. The team was reeling under discord and disharmony. Off-spinner Graeme Swann retired midway, Jonathan Trott left the series due to mental stress, there were questions over Kevin Pietersen’s performance and Cook’s own performance was pretty ordinary: 246 @24.6. England lost all the five Tests heavily. The loss raised questions over whether Alastair Cook had run his course in the hot seat as he lost games when they had Australia on the ropes.
Jinxed by the Asians
In 2006 & 2007, England cricket team, surprisingly, struggled against Sri Lanka and India at home. Sanity returned under Andrew Strauss’ captaincy as the hosts beat Pakistan and India handsomely in 2010 and 2011 respectively. However, come 2014 and under Alastair Cook’s captaincy, the chinks against Asian teams at home returned. Sri Lanka levelled a 2-match series 1-1 with a win at Nottingham.
In the subsequent series, England bounced back with a 3-1 win over India after losing the first Test at Lord’s. In 2016 though, Pakistan drew a four-match series 2-2, winning at Lord’s and Oval.
For a captain, who led his team to a historic and surprising Test series win in India in 2012-13, the steep decline in performance in the subcontinent was surprising. They lost a three-Test series 2-0 to Pakistan in the UAE in late 2015. But the 2016-17 season drew the final nail. Alastair Cook couldn’t fire up his men and get the combination right on the tours to Bangladesh and India. They drew 1-1 with unfancied Bangladesh and got hammered 4-0 by India. Many times, Cook let the advantage slip as he’d done in 2013-14 Ashes series.
Not many cricket teams these days are scared to tour the West Indies. An ongoing fight between players and administrators over money has seen the West Indies slide. So it was surprising when at the start of 2015, England could only draw a series with West Indies 1-1. This was right after the ICC World Cup where England couldn’t even make the quarters. In early 2013 too, England had managed to draw a 3-Test series 0-0 in New Zealand.