Alastair Cook Must Quit for England to Stand Chance in 2015 World Cup

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Alastair Cook Must Quit for England to Stand Chance in 2015 World Cup
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

"Taxi for Cook!" Yes, England's humiliating nine-wicket defeat to India has confirmed it's time for Alastair Cook to catch a cab for a one-way journey into ODI retirement.

Indeed, Graeme Swann, like a Shakespearean villain, put the issue into the mainstream a few days ago, stabbing his former colleague and good friend in the back with a very public call for his head.

But the sheer futility of this latest loss should have the English cricket's big cheeses sharpening their axes unless another World Cup is to be written off before it has even begun.

Let's have a look at some of the underlying reasons that Cook should go and a couple of possible solutions.

 

Team Form

England's ODI record under Alastair Cook
Played Won Lost Tied No Result
62 33 26 1 2

This series defeat to India was Cook's fifth consecutive ODI series loss, a run that would've seen most industry leaders, inside and outside of sport, get the chop.

More worryingly, instead of his side gradually improving to peak at next February's show piece event, England appear to be getting worse.

Critics will point out that Cook led England to the summit of the ICC ODI rankings in 2012 and, just last summer, to the final of the Champions Trophy, which they lost to India by just five runs.

But the past is the past, and there shouldn't be any room for sentiment at the top levels of professional sport.

 

Individual Form

While Cook's 298 runs at 49.66 in the recent Test series against India hopefully indicate a resurgence of form in the longest form of the game, his white-ball style of play is old fashioned.

And a classical batting technique designed for timing and placement rather than power and improvisation has seen the left-hander struggle throughout this season's ODI phases:

Interestingly, career-wise his 3,039 ODI runs at a scoring rate of just more than 77 actually compares well to international rivals such as Australian skipper Michael Clarke who has 7,751 runs at 78.64 or, even further back, 1999 World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh, who scored thousands of runs at a rate of just 75.91.

However, the current situation dictates that England need a more dynamic presence at the top of the order. Someone who can intimidate the opposition, take advantage of the fielding restrictions and help his side get off to a blistering start—the complete opposite to what Cook's game is about.

 

The Alternatives

Some may say there are no obvious replacements for Cook and, in terms of top-level experience, there probably isn't. But the domestic scene is awash with young, aggressive batsman who could be the "next big thing" if they're given a chance to form a partnership with Alex Hales.

Hampshire's James Vince has been knocking on the door unsuccessfully for some time now and possesses a wide range of traditional and experimental shots. With several years of continued improvement on the county circuit behind him, culminating in leading his side to the T20 Finals this season, the 23-year-old is worth a look.

Currently ahead of Vince, though, appears to be Surrey's Jason Roy, who was recently called up to England's T20 squad. The hard-hitting batsman has won rave reviews this year and has scored at more than a run a ball in 52 List-A innings so far.

 

Summary

Should Alastair Cook lead England to the 2015 ODI World Cup?

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Cook faced similar criticisms to the ones he's facing now at the start of his international career and was indeed dropped from the ODI team for some time.

At that time, he went away to Essex, made his game more aggressive and scored heavily in domestic limited-overs cricket before successfully returning to the top of England's order with a bang. But, with the World Cup fast approaching, there is no time for such shenanigans here.

So, given the typically hard, high-scoring wickets of Australia, wouldn't it be great to see England go for all-out aggression and at least go down with a fight?

Come on, Cooky...put your feet up for the next few months or, more accurately, take a lucrative media job at the World Cup and concentrate on getting ready for the 2015 Ashes.

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