Monday, 15 December 2014
The Blaming of Alastair Cook
Don't blame Alastair Cook for having ambition.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for wanting to captain his country.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for believing he can play one day cricket.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for trying to take the opportunities that he's been given.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for keeping faith in himself.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for being stubborn.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for wanting to appear at a World Cup.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for being seduced by dreams of winning it.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for worrying about what the effects of not being ODI captain may be on his Test captaincy.
Don't blame Alastair Cook for getting out. He's not trying to.
In short, don't blame Alastair Cook for doing what he's doing, because in all honesty we'd probably do the same thing too. Or at least those with the mindset of an international cricketer would. Many of the qualities that irritate in defeat are the same ones that are essential to success.
Cook and his captaincy are a lightning rod for the frustration of watching England play ODI cricket, something that they have been reliably average at since about 1992. If Cook is not fit for purpose then the attention should be on those who are enabling him to stay in place.
What's going on with Peter Moores? How well is he doing? Is his vision for this England team any less prosaic than last time?
What about Paul Downton, iron-man decision-maker? How clear have the reasons - long-promised - for his big decisions become?
Both can give thanks for the crumbling of India last summer - and in fairness, the brilliance of James Anderson in toppling them. Without that series win, their reign would look grim indeed. A poor World Cup a year into their plots and plans would contextualise their efforts further.
No-one likes the sound of a stuck record, but the support of Alastair Cook as ODI captain has its roots in the post-Ashes meltdown. Blaming him for stubbornly believing he should be captain is like blaming Vince Neil for having a good time: it's simply the nature of the beast. Cook is there to compete, and that is what he is doing.
England's problem is not that Alastair Cook is ODI captain. England's problem is the thinking of those that have kept him there. They're the ones that see English ODI cricket in that way, distinct and distant from the rest of the world.