Alastair Cook’s England legacy has finished after 57 Test Matches in charge of a nation that has given him some of his hardest moments of his international career.
It started with the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen for an Indian series which he was able to win thanks to outstanding performances from Pietersen and himself along with spinners, Greame Swann and Monty Panesar. Cook was named player of the series after amassing 562 runs across the four match series. It was undoubtedly a great moment not just in the history of Cook’s captaincy but the history of English cricket.
A side note from the India series was the birth of a star named Joe Root, whilst Root may well be Cook’s successor – it should be noted the players that have come to fruition under Cook’s captaincy. Tasked with rebuilding the side following the disastrous 5-0 loss in Australia, Cook was able to put together a side that was not only competitive in Test Match cricket but was able to transfer over to Eoin Morgan’s ODI and T20 side – his contribution in the fruition of these formats can not go under the radar especially considering his reign gave the likes of Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes and even Root the chance to shine on an international stage.
Of course a highlight for this rejuvenated England side was a 2-1 series win in South Africa which came months after Cook gained redemption by regaining the Ashes on home turf.
It is unlikely that we will see the end of Cook, and he will surely go past every batting record held by any English and maybe Test match batsman now the shackles are off. Cook must take a lot of credit for the rebuilding he has done and has surely left English cricket in a much better place than where he found it.
It’s crazy really how the constant criticism of Eoin Morgan among cricket fans keeps reoccurring. Morgan picked up a team on their haunches nearly two years ago and got it to a point where it has the belief to go and score 350 twice in India with the bat.
I agree that bowling has been tough this series, but take nothing away from Morgan – he has been sensational for the past two years in leading this side. His 102 from 81 balls in Cuttack for the second ODI against India will quieten the doubters for another series at least but it really shouldn’t. His twelve over stand of 93 with Moeen Ali really rejuvenated England’s chase of 381 in which they fell 15 runs short in the end. It is blatantly obvious to see that England are a better side with Morgan at the helm for the time being.
Moeen himself reiterated his importance to this English One Day side with an aggressive 55 from 43 balls as well as bowling six overs for just 33 runs in an innings where 381 was scored from 50 overs, it was mind boggling how Moeen especially did not bowl more overs as the solitary spinner in the English attack. It is easy to forget that Moeen is a batting all-rounder by trade but the job he has done of taking the burden of spin bowling has been superb in One-Day cricket and only exposed in Asia in Test Match cricket. It would be great if England had another Greame Swann coming through, but they don’t and Moeen does what’s required of him.
Featured in an earlier post, the question was asked about Sam Billings in the England XI. His chance may have opened with Alex Hales requiring an x-ray on the little finger of his right hand, Billings opened in Bangladesh when Jason Roy went down ill and could well gain an opportunity at the top of the order in the last ODI against India. Billings goes into the game after a 93 against India ‘A’ and widely regarded by some as an excellent player of spin – he should slot right in to this England team.
Meanwhile, Hales suddenly finds himself under pressure to perform. His 171 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge seems a while a go now and with him missing the Bangladesh series and not setting this series alight, could Billings take his place with a strong performance here? As doubtful as that may be, it will be interesting to see whether or not this point is a discussion come the West Indies series in March.