By Louis Gibbon
It is fair to say that Alastair Cook did not leave his role as England captain at the top of his game. In his last few outings, he began to put down catches and England struggled with poor field settings, costing the team vital runs to a rampant Indian batting line up. It has become clear, that for Cook, distraction and disillusionment were taking over. As he resigned he stated ‘You can’t do this job at 95%’ and after such a disappointing series on Indian soil, this cannot be argued with. However, despite an upsetting end to his reign as captain, the fantastic job which Alistair Cook has done over the last five years should not be overlooked.
Despite the stress and responsibilities of the job, Cook always managed to main integrity, humility and composure. During the early part of the 2014 summer a year, which started with an Ashes whitewash and ended with a home series defeat to Sri Lanka and his removal as one-day captain, there was overwhelming, unfair criticism of the skipper. However, through this he remained cool and managed to bat his way out of trouble. Indeed, this has often been the case with Cook, as when his backs against the wall he almost always comes out scoring.
Cook was the only man for the job at the time when Andrew Strauss resigned from the captaincy role and overall justified his time and his selection as captain, showing determination and grit at the top of the order, relentlessly scoring runs and maintaining dignity and patience throughout. In total, he ended up scoring 4,844 runs as a Test captain; only five players have ever recorded more (G Smith, Border, Ponting, Lloyd & Fleming). A particular highlight for Cook must be winning two home Ashes series, as well as test victories against South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India.
Will Cook go down as one of the all-time great captains? Sadly not. His winning percentage of just 40.67 is the fourth worst of the six men to have led England in over 40 Tests. A humiliating whitewash in Australia, and bad defeats to Sri Lanka and India mean his name cannot be mentioned amongst the greats. Perhaps it has always been clear that he lacked the intuition and natural leadership of the great captains such as Michael Vaughan and Mike Brearley, but overcame his innate stubbornness through seeking advice.
Hopefully, he will go on to play for years to come and who knows, even surpass the great Sachin Tendulkar’s record. But, what is for sure is that he will be of great use for Joe Root to ask help from as he takes over the captaincy.
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