India has won the second Test to take a 1-0 lead in the series with England. England has lost. Again. Cook has failed. Again. And yet, unless Cook decides otherwise, he has until the end of the series (three more Tests) to turn it around.
I’ve got nothing against Cook. The way he is handling himself under immense pressure if admirable. It reminds me a bit of Mark Taylor in his horror trot in 1996-97. Except for one thing: The Australian team was packed with champions and was winning everything. Make that two things: Mark Taylor was prepared to throw in the towel after the 1st Ashes Test in 1997 but it didn’t come to that and the rest is history.
Elite sporting teams stay strong by including the best of the best, no excuses. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Survival of the fittest. It is the national selectors’ job to make these hard decisions. I don’t understand why the matter is in Cook’s hands. It is traditional for England to appoint a captain at the beginning of a series, for that series but why? In 1997, Australian selectors prepared for the worst. Steve Waugh was elevated to vice captain in case Taylor had to be dropped during the series. Taylor himself admitted later that he would have quit after the 1st Test if he had not scored significant runs.
England has had a tradition of picking a captain and then picking the team. That dates back to pre-war days when a gentleman always had to be a captain. But this is 2014. Mike Brearley is the only English captain in living memory to have been picked as captain without genuine playing credibility and that was more than 30 years ago.
Not only does England have a dysfunctional captain and leadership, they have lost an opener who was until recently one of the world’s best batsmen. Every man and his dog is Tweeting that England needs a change. Not that the masses should necessarily be heeded but this time they might have a point. But it’s up to Cook and he is not going to quit. Meanwhile, India having won and away Test (at Lord’s of all places) now has a great chance to win an away series.