ENGLAND have rallied to defend Alastair Cook after Australia great Shane Warne fanned the flames ahead of the winter Ashes series by labelling the tourists’ captain “negative, boring and not very imaginative”.
Warne’s latest broadside, less than three weeks before the series begins in Brisbane, also called into question Cook’s leadership qualities during the summer Ashes, which England won 3-0.
But batsman Jonathan Trott, fast-bowler James Anderson and vice-captain Matt Prior were quick to defend the skipper, with the former insisting Cook’s unassuming exterior masked a respected strategist.
“To win 3-0, I don’t think the tactics were that bad,” said Trott. “I know there are people who think he is inept at it, but everyone in the changing room knows he’s well ahead of most people in that department.”
Anderson said Cook “leads by example and just drags everyone with him”, while Prior called the Essex opener “very strong mentally”.
He added: “There is always going to be scrutiny and the captain as a leader is always going to come under fire. He takes it all in his stride, and ultimately his record speaks for itself. He’s doing pretty well.”
The show of support comes as England prepare for their second tour match, against Australia A in Hobart, which begins tonight at 11:30pm British time. Warne also took aim at young England batsman Joe Root, who he argued was at risk of being “crucified” by Australia’s pace attack if left at the top of the order.
Root, speaking yesterday before Warne’s comments were published, insisted he would not be fazed by anything the hosts subjected him to.
“I’ve just got to make sure I prepare my game for every possibility. I need to cover all my bases and make sure I’m ready for anything,” said the 22-year-old.
“I’m sure the build-up will be more Australian-oriented and I’m sure I’ll be getting a bit of stick, but that’s all part of it and I’m looking forward to all of that.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I just can’t wait to get to that first Test and get out there and get amongst it all.”
Trott, who scored a century as England drew their opening tour match against a Western Australia XI last week, has vowed to improve on his summer Ashes displays, when he averaged 29.30. He said: “The hundred at Perth is exactly what I would have wanted.”