Alastair Cook opens up on captaincy exit

The former England captain said the drawn series against Pakistan last year created doubts over his ability to keep leading England.

Doubts solidified in Alastair Cook’s mind in the break between the third and fourth Tests against India in the season gone by.   -  Getty Images


Former England skipper Alastair Cook has opened up about his decision to step down as Test skipper, saying he started doubting his leadership skills after the drawn four-match series against Pakistan in 2016.

Cook had earlier this year stepped down as England’s Test captain after a record 59 matches in charge. Following his tour to the subcontinent, which included a maiden Test defeat against Bangladesh and a 4-0 loss in the five-Test series against India, the left-hand batsman faced a lot of criticism.

Middle-order batsman Joe Root was then appointed as England’s new Test captain, with Ben Stokes being named as his deputy.

Cook said the drawn series against Pakistan created doubts over his ability to keep leading England and that very thought never left his mind thereafter.

“I started questioning myself on certain decisions, not just tactically on the pitch, but with leadership in general,” quoted Cook as saying. “There is so much about this team. You don’t win an Ashes series (in 2015), having been such heavy underdogs as we were, and win them the way we did, and then go on and beat South Africa (in South Africa), like we did, without having a huge amount about you, but last year we didn’t push on from that. Not to beat Pakistan was disappointing. The question that I kept coming back to was, ‘Am I leading the team forward?’” he added.


Cook further revealed that he wanted to finish the captaincy against Australia during the Ashes. It was during the break between the third and fourth Tests in India in Dubai when Cook again started having the same question in his mind. “Sometimes getting away and outside the team bubble can help and our hotel was out in the sticks. We didn’t see any of the guys. When I came back, it was quite clear in my mind,” he said.

“Then came a couple of heavy defeats. By the time of leaving the field at the end of the final Test, I would have been very surprised if I captained again, though nobody knew that,” he added.

Cook, who was appointed as the captain in August 2012, is England’s most capped Test skipper so far, having led the side to Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa. The opening batsman also led the one-day side for 69 matches between 2010 and 2014, which is another England record.

The 32-year-old, who is just 118 runs away from going past Allan Border’s mark of 11,174 runs, will, however, have to wait a while longer, with England’s Test season not beginning until July due to the Champions Trophy being held in the U.K. in June.

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