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

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  England captain Alastair Cook leaves the field after being dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India during the 4th Royal London One Day International match between England and India at Edgbaston on September 2, 2014 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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. 

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  England captain Alastair Cook leaves the field after being dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India during the 4th Royal London One Day International match between England and India at Edgbaston on September 2, 2014 in
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
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)
1Virender Sehwag214751821936.49104.721435
2Adam Gilchrist203719417236.89100.651145
3Sanath Jayasuriya242821318935.7091.772135
4Shane Watson953882185*45.1391.68725
5Hashim Amla89453115055.2590.001524
6Tillakaratne Dilshan1375549160*45.8589.161625
7Gautam Gambhir94336715039.6186.48821
8Sachin Tendulkar2029040200*48.0885.842248
9Marcus Trescothick123433513737.3785.211221
10Herschelle Gibbs151510415336.1985.131620
16Alastair Cook85303913737.5177.66519
ESPN Cricinfo

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30:  England captain Alastair Cook pulls the ball for four runs during the 3rd Royal London One-Day International match between England and India at Trent Bridge on August 30, 2014 in Nottingham, England.  (Photo by Gareth Cop
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
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
Shikhar Dhawan37155911947.2492.6357
Quinton de Kock22109713549.8691.8753
Hashim Amla35167515052.3486.8366
Tillakaratne Dilshan45185912550.2482.99412
Ian Bell351378113*43.0680.86111
Rohit Sharma37148320946.3478.71211
Ahmed Shehzad29115212439.7273.2837
Alastair Cook3711067831.6072.6608
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
ESPN Cricinfo

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30:  Alastair Cook  of England walks back to the pavillion after being stumped by MS Dhoni of India off the bowling of Ambati Rayudu during the third Royal London One-Day Series match between England and India at Trent Bridge
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)
1Aaron Finch932912141.1294.8120
2Quinton de Kock92098423.2294.5701
3Nawroz Mangal4213112*106.5092.6011
4Kusal Perera1348410637.2392.3612
5Shikhar Dhawan2598511946.9090.6934
6Ajinkya Rahane631810653.0090.0812
7Chris Gayle1432810925.2388.4011
8Tillakaratne Dilshan23980115*54.4484.1935
9Gautam Gambhir620810234.6682.5311
10Martin Guptill12335103*33.5081.3111
25 (Last)Alastair Cook174217826.3167.3602
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