Continuing his verbal duel with the England captain, Graeme Swann has suggested that Alastair Cook should miss the “turmoil” of inevitable one-day failures ahead to keep himself fresh for the challenge of regaining the Ashes.
“The Ashes is the biggest thing in cricket, let’s not forget that, and I am one of those that cannot give a hoot about the World Cup coming up if we win the Ashes,” Swann said.
“That is why I want the England Test team to be in the best possible shape, and I believe that is with Alastair Cook as a confident leader who is still brimming with the feelings of that India Test victory. I think that is going to bechipped away this winter, when I can’t see them winning many games,” the former off-spinner said on BBC Radio 5 Live.
England complete their one-day series against India at Headingley on Friday, after which they have a maximum of 12 more one-day internationals — seven in Sri Lanka before Christmas and the Tri-Series in Australia, also including India, in the new year — before their opening match of the World Cup, against Australia in Melbourne on February 14.
Whatever decisions are made, Swann believes it is imperative to England’s Ashes chances that Cook is not scarred by what he regards as inevitable one-day failures this winter.
“The whole reason I didn’t want Cooky playing in this series is that I knew the brand of cricket England were going to play. I knew it was not going to be enough and I don’t want him involved in all this turmoil when he had done so well to boost his stock levels after the Test series,” he said.
Cook remains determined to lead the side into the tournament, but the decision may be taken out of his hands if Paul Downton, the ECB managing director, and James Whitaker, the national selector, believe that change is necessary, The Times reported.
Swann and Cook were close as England team-mates, but their relationship has been strained in recent weeks after Swann’s retirement and his suggestions that Cook should not be playing one-day international cricket.
Cook responded by referring to Swann as a “so-called friend”, although they have tried unsuccessfully to contact each other by phone since.
Under Cook, England have lost five successive one-day series, including the present one against India, having fought back to win the Test series 3-1.
Swann has also been a regular critic of England’s strategy in one-day cricket, labelling their most recent defeat as “boring and embarrassing”, but, not for the first time this summer, Cook finds himself at odds with his erstwhile team-mate’s viewpoint and believes that it is the execution rather than the game plan that needs revising.