Captain Cook set to discover fate

Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Alastair Cook’s reign as England’s one-day captain is expected to officially be brought to an end on Saturday.

News leaked out on Friday that Cook would not lead England at the World Cup, which takes place in Australia in less than two months’ time, with Eoin Morgan set to replace him.

A powerful combination of wretched results, even worse individual form and Cook’s vociferous and influential chorus of critics appear to have made it increasingly difficult for England’s selectors to stick to their guns.

A meeting in the midlands on Friday, at which they were expected to pick an initial squad of 16 for next month’s tri-series in Australia, to be trimmed by one for the main event, suggests Cook has paid for his poor run of form. The 29-year-old has made just one one-day international 50 in his last 22 innings.

Less than a week ago, England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton was still saying he would be “very surprised” if – despite his “miserable” form – Cook was not confirmed as captain on Saturday morning.

Another failure, and defeat, followed to make the margin of England’s series setback in Sri Lanka 5-2.

The selectors deliberated at length in September before naming him as captain in Sri Lanka and, in James Whitaker’s words, a “unique leader” who would unquestionably stay in charge for the World Cup too.

However, Cook conceded after his latest defeat that he could have “no complaints” if he was moved on.

Morgan’s case is championed by the loudest voices moulding public opinion but the Irishman’s batting form – since a purple patch in Australia last winter – is not discernibly better than Cook’s.

Kevin Pietersen continues to cast a long shadow and, although he seems certain not to be included in England’s 16-man squad, he again threw his hat into the ring.

The 34-year-old wrote on Twitter: “Great news that @Eoin16 is new England 1-day captain. Top player, leader and bloke. Hope I get to play for him.”

News of Cook’s removal was welcomed by leading figures within cricket, with former England captain Michael Atherton telling Sky Sports News HQ: “I think it’ll be a relief to Alastair.

“He can now concentrate on batting in Test matches at the top of the order. I don’t think Eoin Morgan is going to be in the Test side so he can concentrate on the one-day side of things.

“With England’s schedule next year, it’s horrific in terms of the amount of cricket that’s being played, so I think it’s absolutely right that we have split captains because I don’t think it’s physically possible for one man to do both things.

“I think it’s the right decision. It makes them look a bit silly, so in many ways a brave one.”

Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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