Sacking Cook is not a realistic way: Stewart

IANS    31-Aug-2014
Alastair Cook

London, Aug 31 : Former captain Alec Stewart feels that sacking Alastair Cook as England's ODI skipper just a few months ahead of the 2015 World Cup won't be the right step and asked the players not to be overcautious and unadventurous.

"England are staring down the barrel after yesterday's emphatic six-wicket defeat -- hard on the heels of the 133-run hammering they took at Cardiff. In the week when both Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan questioned Alastair Cook's place in the team and wrote off his team's chances of winning next year's World Cup, England have it all to do. They have a mountain to climb being two down with just two ODIs to play," Stewart wrote in his column in The Mirror.

With India leading the ODI series 2-0 and two matches still left, Stewart wondered if Cook and his team would be able to turn the tables on India and quieten the critics or will the summer of cricket finish on a whimper.

"Last week I asked England to be brave and take the positive options at every opportunity but what's been on show so far is the same old failings. Overcautious and unadventurous, repeating mistake after mistake. Watching England in this current series is exactly how England played back in the mid-1990s. England have to understand that the game has moved on and must be prepared to play a style of cricket that will worry the opposition," he said.

Stewart said it won't be wise to remove Cook as the ODI captain just before the World Cup, Feb 14-March 29, that would be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

"Any call for Cook to stand down will fall on deaf ears and I can understand why the selectors won't change things with just a few months to go before the World Cup starts. Fans have called for Cook to be taken out of the squad but it may not be realistic to change it so near the World Cup. The big challenge is to get this group of players playing without fear and being allowed to show off their talents," he said.

Slamming England batsmen for their inability to handle Indian spinners at Trent Bridge Saturday, Stewart said: "A below par score of 227 on a sluggish pitch at Trent Bridge was never going to be enough for the England bowlers to protect. With no batsman yet to score a 50 in the series, England have plenty to fret about. Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan are fine players but they could become vulnerable with Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali in the squad but yet to play."

Stewart said that if the batting still shows no signs of improvement then the selectors will have no choice but to experiment and throw in the likes of James Taylor, James Vince or Jason Roy for the seven-match series in Sri Lanka before Christmas.

"It won't give them much time to adjust to the international stage and judging a player on sub-continental pitches is far from ideal with the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand where the surfaces should have pace and bounce and a little help for the spin bowlers," he said.