Nasser Hussain hails Alastair Cook’s tenure as England captain

Published: Monday 6th February 2017 by The News Editor

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Nasser Hussain has congratulated Alastair Cook on his record tenure of “the best job in the world” as England captain.

Cook has resigned at the age of 32, after 59 Tests in charge and with two Ashes series victories as captain.

Hussain, who himself resigned the captaincy more than a decade ago and handed over to future Ashes-winning leader Michael Vaughan, believes Cook was right to take time over his decision.

He also told Sky Sports News that Cook has been an outstanding role model for his sport in this country.

“As England captain, you’re more than just a leader,” said Hussain.

“You’re also an ambassador for your country, and I don’t think anyone can doubt what a great and fantastic ambassador for the game and the country Alastair Cook has been.

“He’s been a very dignified captain of England.”

Asked how tough a job it can be to lead England, Hussain added: “It depends what era you’re playing in. When you’re losing a lot of games, it’s a difficult job.

“But it’s the best job in the world, without a doubt.

“As a cricketer, being captain of your country – when you walk out at various venues, and the bloke on the tannoy system says ‘and now leading out England is Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Alastair Cook, it is the best job in the world.”

Cook’s final series in charge of the Test team was the 4-0 series defeat in India before Christmas.

Calls grew for his resignation after England collapsed to lose by an innings and 75 runs in Chennai in the final Test, but Cook insisted he would take his time over his decision.

Hussain, who like his fellow former England captain Atherton expects Joe Root to take over for England’s return to Test cricket against South Africa in July, believes Cook was right to avoid acting in haste.

“The England captaincy is not something you can do unless you’re fully 100% into it,” he said.

“He wanted the time to reflect on what was a very difficult year and very difficult few months in India. He’s obviously reflected on that and come to the decision he hasn’t got that energy you need.

“After four years – usually the lifespan of an England captain – he’s felt he doesn’t have that energy to take the side on.”

Instead, Hussain fully expects Cook to return successfully to the ranks and continue adding to his all-time national-record haul of 11,057 Test runs in his 140 matches to date.

An ex-Essex team-mate of Cook’s, he added: “He’s one of the most mentally tough cricketers I’ve ever known, and he’s obviously felt he’s run out of that mental toughness for captaincy – and he’s going to save that for his batting.”

It has come as no surprise to Atherton, meanwhile, that Cook has called time on his captaincy.

“Those of us who were in India at the end of the year saw the look in his eyes,” he said.

“He looked exhausted at the end of that … I think after four years in the job, he realised he’d had enough.

“Once you get to that point, you know yourself, and there’s really no reason for people to try to change your mind.”

Cook is renowned for his determination, and Hussain believes his resilience helped him make a success of a role which did not come easily.

He said: “Captaincy did not come naturally to Alastair – it took a lot of his energy. He made himself into a very good captain.

“It was a little bit like his batting. While it was going on, it wasn’t a work of art, a wow moment – but by the end of it, you looked at it and thought he got results.

“Here is a guy of incredible mental steel.”

Hussain warns Cook will have to adapt to his new situation – but believes he will be able to do so.

“I’m glad he took the time to make the decision … and I think this is just about the right time to do it,” said Hussain.

“They’ll be mixed feelings for Alastair this morning. It will be a weight lifted off his shoulders, but the next time he steps on to a cricket field as an England player it will not be ‘Alastair Cook, captain of England’.”

He does not expect a future with Root instead in charge of Cook to present any problems, however.

Hussain said: “I think Joe Root, when he looks at first slip and sees Alastair Cook there, he’ll be very grateful for so many different reasons – obviously his batting, but also the character of the lad.

“I’m sure Joe Root will lean on Alastair Cook. But it will be Joe Root’s side … if he gets the job.

“If it is [Root], I think he has the character to take the side on.”

Cook still has time on his side to make many more Test runs – a point emphasised by his long-term mentor and former England batting coach Graham Gooch.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Gooch said: “He’s a great man and he still has great things to do for his country.”

Published: Monday 6th February 2017 by The News Editor

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