Cricket Statistics: Why Alastair Cook Should Be Dropped from England ODI Team

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Cricket Statistics: Why Alastair Cook Should Be Dropped from England ODI Team
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

In the wake of England's humiliating defeat to India at Edgbaston on Tuesday, nothing better epitomised how out of touch England are with one-day cricket than Alastair Cook's unwavering confidence in his team's methods.

"The strategy does not need to change," Cook said when asked about the home side's approach after the nine-wicket thrashing, per the The Guardian

"But we need to do it better," he added. 

You'll be hard-pressed to find a more deluded comment. While other countries have rapidly evolved in the 50-over game, embracing its fast-moving shift toward the essence of Twenty20 cricket, England have been left behind, still approaching one-day internationals with a mentality belonging to a different decade. 

To catch up to their rivals, sweeping changes need to be made to numerous aspects of the current England one-day side.

Dropping the captain should be the starting point of that upheaval. 

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

If you examine Cook's record in 50-over cricket, the major thing that jumps out at you is how unremarkable his statistics are for a limited-overs opener who debuted more than a year after the first Twenty20 International was played in February 2005. 

Alastair Cook's ODI Record
Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
85 3039 137 37.51 77.66 5 19

ESPN Cricinfo

Averaging below 40 and possessing a strike rate below 80, the England captain is far from the prototypical modern opener.

Not one to dominate attacks and unable to place extreme pressure on opposing bowlers, Cook's presence at the top of the order means England simply can't intimidate their rivals. 

To put the left-hander's record into perspective, you only need to look at the other prominent openers of his era, players who've scored 3,000 runs or more at the top of the order in one-day cricket since the turn of the century. 

Of the 20 opening batsmen to achieve such a feat, Cook's strike rate is 16th on the list, above only those belonging to Sourav Ganguly, Stephen Fleming, Upul Tharanga and Nathan Astle.

ODI Strike Rates for Openers Since 2000 (3000+ Runs)
Rank Player Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
1 Virender Sehwag 214 7518 219 36.49 104.72 14 35
2 Adam Gilchrist 203 7194 172 36.89 100.65 11 45
3 Sanath Jayasuriya 242 8213 189 35.70 91.77 21 35
4 Shane Watson 95 3882 185* 45.13 91.68 7 25
5 Hashim Amla 89 4531 150 55.25 90.00 15 24
6 Tillakaratne Dilshan 137 5549 160* 45.85 89.16 16 25
7 Gautam Gambhir 94 3367 150 39.61 86.48 8 21
8 Sachin Tendulkar 202 9040 200* 48.08 85.84 22 48
9 Marcus Trescothick 123 4335 137 37.37 85.21 12 21
10 Herschelle Gibbs 151 5104 153 36.19 85.13 16 20
16 Alastair Cook 85 3039 137 37.51 77.66 5 19

ESPN Cricinfo

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Much like his form in the Test arena, Cook's record in coloured clothing has also been on the slide since 2012. 

Without a one-day hundred since his 112 against the West Indies more than two years ago, the 29-year-old's numbers have been heading south for some time, seeing his average drop to just above 30 and his strike rate slump toward 70. 

Alastair Cook's ODI Record Since Jul. 2012
Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100 50
37 1106 78 31.60 72.66 0 8

ESPN Cricinfo

But continually selected into the side during that lean spell, Cook has been one of the most regular openers in one-day cricket across that stretch. 

Alarmingly, the Englishman owns of the worst strike rate in world cricket among those with 1,000 ODI runs or more at the top of the order in the last two years. 

ODI Strike Rates for Openers with 1000+ Runs Since Jul. 2012
Player Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
Shikhar Dhawan 37 1559 119 47.24 92.63 5 7
Quinton de Kock 22 1097 135 49.86 91.87 5 3
Hashim Amla 35 1675 150 52.34 86.83 6 6
Tillakaratne Dilshan 45 1859 125 50.24 82.99 4 12
Ian Bell 35 1378 113* 43.06 80.86 1 11
Rohit Sharma 37 1483 209 46.34 78.71 2 11
Ahmed Shehzad 29 1152 124 39.72 73.28 3 7
Alastair Cook 37 1106 78 31.60 72.66 0 8

ESPN Cricinfo

And the poor numbers don't stop there. 

Openers, of course, carry the most responsibility in one-day cricket when chasing totals, given the way required run rates can rapidly get out of hand amid sluggish starts.

While time can often be taken when batting first, the tempo of the game has already been set when the second innings arrives. Openers have no choice but to follow it.

In that regard, Cook's numbers during his two-year slump are dire. 

Alastair Cook's ODI Record when Chasing Since Jul. 2012
Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
17 421 78 26.31 67.36 0 2

ESPN Cricinfo

Michael Steele/Getty Images

As that record illustrates, the England captain has been woefully exposed since 2012 in the situations that demand the most from an opener. 

And more telling than the plummeting average is Cook's strike rate of 67.36—a figure descending toward Test level. 

In fact, from a strike-rate perspective, England's current leader has the worst record of all opening batsmen in world cricket (200-run qualification) when chasing a total across the last two years. 

ODI Strike Rates for Openers in Chases Since Jul. 2012 (200+ Runs)
Rank Player Mat Runs HS Ave SR 100s 50s
1 Aaron Finch 9 329 121 41.12 94.81 2 0
2 Quinton de Kock 9 209 84 23.22 94.57 0 1
3 Nawroz Mangal 4 213 112* 106.50 92.60 1 1
4 Kusal Perera 13 484 106 37.23 92.36 1 2
5 Shikhar Dhawan 25 985 119 46.90 90.69 3 4
6 Ajinkya Rahane 6 318 106 53.00 90.08 1 2
7 Chris Gayle 14 328 109 25.23 88.40 1 1
8 Tillakaratne Dilshan 23 980 115* 54.44 84.19 3 5
9 Gautam Gambhir 6 208 102 34.66 82.53 1 1
10 Martin Guptill 12 335 103* 33.50 81.31 1 1
25 (Last) Alastair Cook 17 421 78 26.31 67.36 0 2

ESPN Cricinfo

Thus, despite Cook's insistence that England's approach doesn't need to change, the numbers suggests it does, highlighting that the captain is a major source of the team's malaise in one-day cricket. 

Change, therefore, must start at the top. 

 

All statistics courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo

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