By Madhu Kshirsagar
Alastair Cook has taken umbrage at Shane Warne’s criticism of his captaincy. The latter has criticised Cook’s captaincy for the entire time he has been the captain; all through the past two years.
Most of Warne’s criticism is justified whilst some are just rubbing salt into the wound. Warne started taking digs at Cook when England played well under English conditions to beat the Australians 3-0 in 2013.
Despite England winning handsomely early on under Cook, Warne has been relentless in belittling the Englishman’s captaincy. That was around the time when Cook’s star as a batsman started fading. He did not contribute greatly with the bat in that series, measured by his own hitherto standard. He did appear to stumble through his role as captain albeit with criticism from several quarters; none more vociferous than Mr. Warne.
His subsequent tour of Australia was a disaster and the less said about the English team’s performance and Cook’s own performance the better. And to top it off he was again roundly criticised by the former Australian leg-spinner for his “unimaginative and boring” captaincy.
Shane Warne is the quintessential Aussie if ever there was one. He will dish out criticisms – fair or unfair – if it suits him. The only thing he hates more than curry is the English cricket side; so his bias is clear. He will use every trick in the book, and some not in the book, to destabilise the England cricket team.
Warne is a person who sees most things as black and white. You are either his friend or his foe. Many Australian cricketers, including Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh, have found him a handful and steered clear of him, having had to face his rants at various times in their lives.
Warne is a complex character, and is not very diplomatic. He makes friends as easily as making enemies. For this reason he was not considered captaincy material during his playing days. He rubbed too many people the wrong way and there were too many transgressions as a cricketer and as a person – too many to list here, but I am sure everyone is well aware of those. To have a cricketing brain is one thing, but to antagonize team mates and also walk a fine line on morality is quite a different thing altogether.
Alastair Cook comes across as a decent bloke – a fantastic opening batsman who is currently going through a bad patch. He may not have a great cricketing brain like Warne, but he is definitely a decent and steady captain. Warne was essentially a gambler during his playing days. The 29-year-old English captain has to be more enterprising in his approach rather than adopting some of Warne’s gambling style which comes across abundantly in his commentary and his ideas. International captains have to be more calculating, strategic and diplomatic.
Forget the fact that Warne’s voice is the loudest in pronouncing Cook’s captaincy as atrocious. Many decent cricket pundits think the same and supporters can also realise it. No doubt Warne is abrasive in his criticisms, but the fact remains that Cook has not displayed great imagination in commanding his troops. Moreover, his bad patch is making his captaincy worse.
But Warne seems to have definitely gotten under Cook’s skin, and that is not a good sign for Cook since the Australlian has achieved his objective!
Cook has to take the criticisms sportingly and in the right spirit and try to benefit from them rather than letting them get under his skin. It can be done. He needs to seek a good friend’s counsel.
Let’s face it, it is easy for ex-cricketers to be sensational in the media, but not as easy to battle batting demons and also captain an average team in an exceptional way.