Geoffrey Boycott said he feared Alastair Cook could be “hounded out” of the England captaincy after the team’s 100-run defeat by Sri Lanka in the second Test at Headingley on Tuesday.
After their 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, England installed a new managing director in Paul Downton, a new head coach in Peter Moores, and a new chairman of selectors in James Whitaker.
However, all three insisted it was vital Cook remained as England captain.
“Cook is too stubborn an individual to resign because he would see it as a sign of weakness,” England opening great Boycott wrote in his column in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper published Wednesday.
“Downton, Whitaker and Moores have hung their hats on him taking England forward, so if they were to sack him so quickly after all they have said about the new era, it would be embarrassing for them.
“They can be as supportive as they want and he can be as stubborn as he wants but if he fails with the bat in the first Test against India at Nottingham, which starts on July 9, and we lose again, then public opinion and the media will be so vocal he may be hounded out.”
After the match, Cook insisted he had no intention of resigning as captain even though 24 innings have passed since the opener scored the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds.
But Boycott was scathing regarding the tactics Cook had employed at Headingley, where Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews batted the tourists into a winning position with a Test-best 160.
“We are watching the same old rubbish and we cannot go on playing like this. We have to stop spurning chances to win. At Headingley, Cook gave a lesson in how to lose a Test match from a winning position. He had no imagination, no plan B and no different tactics as Angelo Mathews batted Sri Lanka into a winning position. It was just mind boggling.
“You have to have a feel for captaincy. You cannot go to bloody school or learn it from a book.” Boycott also accused James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s experienced new-ball duo, of bowling “absolute tripe”.
Michael Vaughan, also writing in the Telegraph, questioned whether Cook had it in him to be tough with his bowlers.
“We do not know what he (Cook) is like in the dressing room,” Vaughan, England’s 2005 Ashes-winning captain, said.
“As captain, you have to be hard with your mates if they are not performing. It is your job as a captain to get the ball out of their hands and give them a rocket when they have had a series of bad days.
“As a captain, you look at the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson and view them as your bankers. But they bowled too short, have been wayward, lacked rhythm and appeared jaded.”
Cook said that, despite controversially ditching all-time leading run-scorer Kevin Pietersen and being without senior batsman Jonathan Trott (stress-related illness) and off-spinner Graeme Swann (retirement), the impact of the Ashes debacle was still having an effect on a ‘new-look’ England team.
“Probably what happened over the winter is still there, getting hammered in Australia,” he said. “(There is) that lasting effect, even with a different side.”