Calcutta: Michael Vaughan has slammed England captain Alastair Cook’s “poor tactics” in the ongoing Lord’s Test against India and called for the ECB to consider taking the captaincy away from him.
Vaughan, in his column for the Daily Telegraph, wrote: “We have reached the stage with Cook when he cannot be enjoying cricket. You don’t when you are not playing well and the team is struggling.”
Cook’s role has come under increasing scrutiny after nine winless Tests and 26 innings without a century, his most recent failure coming in this week’s second Test against India at Lord’s.
Geoffrey Boycott and Alec Stewart have suggested that Cook can no longer handle the pressure of leadership.
“It is easy for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to say it is going to stick by him but it has to ask what is best for the team and for Cook. The ECB has a responsibility to Cook the person to do the right thing and if that means taking the captaincy away then so be it,” Vaughan wrote.
To drive home his point, Vaughan narrates his own struggles with captaincy and how he came out of it.
“I went through terrible moments opening the batting and captaining the side. I could not buy a run in my first series against South Africa and really struggled in Sri Lanka. It was killing me going to my room at night hating this job,” Vaughan wrote.
“I used to ask: ‘What am I going to say in the morning?’ You have to keep smiling and acting. Being able to act is an important part of being a captain. But sadly the more you act the more you are giving out a false message. I am sure Cook has been fine in the dressing room because he has been acting but in his own mind he cannot have felt in a great state over the last few months. Too much has happened…
“I reached a stage in 2004 when it took a very honest conversation with the coach at the time, Duncan Fletcher, to sort it out… He just openly, and in a very clever way, asked me if I was enjoying cricket and could I see myself scoring runs consistently at the top of the order with a team that was a challenge to captain.
“He looked me in the eyes over coffee and said what about dropping down the order to give yourself space and time to gather your thoughts and make the transition from captaincy to batting.
“I moved to No. 4 and hated it. I felt I had too much time to hang around the dressing room waiting to bat so I moved to three and found my niche. I was not the most consistent player but I found an inner peace to sit down and relax and put my batting cap on. That one chat with Duncan saved me as a captain. If I had been stubborn and carried on as before I would not have lasted in the job because my form would not have been good enough to stay in the side.
“I am now waiting for that Duncan moment to happen to Alastair. I do not see him as anything other than an opening batsman so moving down the order is not an option. The question should be do you think you can get back to the form you showed on that tour to India and captain the side?
“Would England miss his tactical captaincy at Southampton if he stood down? The honest truth is I do not think they would. But would they miss him if he suddenly rediscovered his form because he felt relaxed and free from the burden of captaincy? Yes.”