The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 13 , 2014
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Vaughan: I was wrong to ask for Alastair’s removal

- India made a huge mistake focusing on Anderson off the field: Botham
Alastair Cook

London: Former captain Michael Vaughan has admitted he was wrong to say Alastair Cook should be replaced as captain of England.

Vaughan had called for Cook to be replaced by Eoin Morgan after the defeat against India in the second Test at Lord’s last month. But he acknowledged that back-to-back Test wins in Southampton and Manchester, thereafter, showed it was a “fantastic decision” to retain the 29-year-old.

“No question, I was wrong in asking for Cook’s removal as captain,” said Vaughan on BBC Radio. “Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I said a break would’ve done him good. But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stood by him… Alastair, too, was strong and said: ‘I’m the man to carry this young team forward’.”

Vaughan, who captained England between 2003 and 2008, believes the first day of the third Test in Southampton may well have been a turning point for Cook. “Alastair got off to a great start by winning the toss, batted first and then went out there to play brilliantly and get 95 runs.

“There was a bit of fortune when he was dropped by Ravindra Jadeja at third slip on 15… I think that one catch is the real twist of the whole series. If Jadeja had caught Cook on 15, I really felt at that time, it would’ve been a disaster for the side.”

Legendary Ian Botham, too, was all praise for the turnaround Cook and his men made after the abysmal show at Lord’s. Senior pros getting back into their groove and their contribution in Southampton and Manchester has been vital to give England an unassailable 2-1 lead in the five-match series, Botham pointed out.

“It is really down to one thing — the contribution of the senior players. That is the only thing to change in this summer and now that Ian Bell, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Alastair are firing, England are winning.

“The big question is why it took them until the fifth Test of the summer to really get involved. Maybe it was the legacy of the winter and they were still a bit shell-shocked. Maybe it was the unfamiliarity of so much change at the same time.

“Whatever it was, it is not there anymore and when you put it together with the efforts of the younger guys who are blossoming into decent Test players, it is some combination then.

“They’ve got one more Test to go before a break from the format and I expect to see England going out on a high with another win,” Botham wrote in a column for an England-based newspaper.

Terming India a “broken team”, Botham feels India made a big mistake in focusing a bit too much on the James Anderson-Ravindra Jadeja spat. “India look a broken team to me and are there for the taking at The Oval.

“They fired their one and only shot at Lord’s and are now cowering against England’s onslaught. I think they made a huge mistake in focusing on Anderson off the field and their frivolous case against him has only served to fire up him and his teammates,” he wrote.

Botham, however, feels England do require able bowlers who can serve as ideal back-ups for Anderson and Stuart Broad. According to Botham, Ben Stokes is a better choice compared to Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes.

“England are by no means the finished article and they know that. There will be a few more ups and downs to come as the team grows, but there is one area I would like to see improved this week.

“The back-up pace bowling to Broad and Anderson hasn’t been that impressive since Liam Plunkett got injured, so I’d like to see Stokes given another chance. Stokes is a better bowler in my opinion than Jordan and Woakes, and his batting will come good.

“I don’t know why he was ditched after just two Test matches back this summer. But I think he would benefit from a decent run in the team and he will get better with it,” Botham stressed.

Meanwhile, Jos Buttler, who made his Test debut in Southampton, said he's grown in confidence post the two matches. “I'm delighted how I've started in an England shirt,” said Buttler. “And I've batted in two contrasting situations.

“It was a confidence booster for me to know I can play the type of innings I played in the last game. It was nice having batted here (in Manchester) already this season, with it being my home ground, and I was really glad to be able to be part of that partnership with Joe Root who played fantastically at the other end.

“I think one of the things that will be asked from me throughout my career will be to bat differently in different scenarios. I couldn't have wished for a better start — two wins from two and it seems like Test cricket is easy!

“No, seriously, it is just a great feeling to win a Test match, the best feeling of my career and long may that continue.” (AGENCIES)