It's premature to talk about the end of Alastair Cook's England captaincy – bowing out after revenge Down Under and reaching No1 Test ranking would be a more fitting farewell

 
Chris Tremlett
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No1 Test ranking and avenging the Ashes whitewash in Australia are big potential goals for Cook and England (Source: Getty)

It would be fitting for Alastair Cook to continue as Test skipper, lead England to Australia next winter and right the wrongs of the previous tour Down Under, when we were mercilessly whitewashed.

I have seen it argued that if England lose the fourth Test against India, which starts on Thursday, then Cook should relinquish the captaincy and allow heir-apparent and current vice-captain Joe Root to assume the role.

The rationale for such a move is that Cook’s own performances have waned of late, that England have suffered a general malaise since beating South Africa 12 months ago and that a less formulaic skipper could get more out of the side.

Read more: Keaton who? Cook admits he barely knows new team-mate

Much of this debate boils down to how Cook feels himself. He is the one who has had the mental burden of being England captain since 2012 and only he knows whether it is affecting his batting and to what extent.

But as I have written previously, I was in the England dressing room during that torturous tour of Australia a few years ago and Cook’s captaincy has come on leaps and bounds since. He has done a really good job.

Just because Root is a great player, it doesn’t mean to say that he will be a great skipper. The captaincy might have an adverse effect on him, which would not be ideal presently when England’s top and middle order is in need of stability.

Cook and/or the England management will need to work out when is the right time for change at the top and how and when that can be achieved with minimal disruption. In my view, there are bigger priorities for England at the moment.

Cook not the reason for India's lead

There remain questions which need answering, not least about that top and middle order, and I believe Cook is the right man to help some of the younger players, the likes of Haseeb Hameed, to acclimatise to the Test arena.

Regardless of who was captaining the side in the current series, I doubt the result would be any different.

India have played the better cricket and have the better spin bowlers. The scoreline – 2-0 down with two Tests to play – is not down to Cook’s captaincy.

I also believe there is still plenty of growth left in this side, which has made considerable progress since the start of the 2015 summer when coach Trevor Bayliss was united with Cook.

No1 ranking a big goal

Claiming No1 spot in the world Test rankings is one of the challenges that lies ahead for England and I’m sure that is something which Cook, who turns 32 on Christmas Day, is driven to achieve.

That was a big motivation for his predecessor Andrew Strauss and his spell in charge and when that was achieved in 2011 it was an achievement he was extremely proud of.

I firmly believe that Cook has more to offer and I’m sure he would love to be Down Under this time next year rectifying the disaster which was the previous Ashes tour.

He would likely have at his disposal a better side, or certainly one with more confidence, and the climax of that series would be a more appropriate time for him to step aside, if of course that’s how he and the England hierarchy see it.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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