Cook defends Gooch after wielding axe on old hero

ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook yesterday relived the difficult telephone call he made to tell Graham Gooch his services were no longer required, though refused to blame his boyhood hero for the team’s recent deficiencies at the crease.

A failure to pass 400 runs in a Test innings since March 2013 and a disastrous winter Ashes series sparked a series of changes at the helm, with Peter Moores appointed to succeed Andy Flower as head coach.

News of Gooch’s departure, after two years in the role, was released just hours before Moores named his first England squad to play Scotland in a one-day international next week.

But Cook said the unenviable task of telling old Essex mentor Gooch he would not be part of England’s future was not a slight on his credentials.

“It would be very weak of us players to blame the coach. You’re the guy who walks over the line,” said Cook.

“We’re not blaming him for not getting 400. We felt we just needed a few fresh faces in the coaching staff.

“To make a decision on a guy I’ve had so much respect for, and the whole of England has, was tough.

“I was telling a man, who I used to go and queue up to get his autograph and hope he’d score runs, that it’s time to move on. I’ll remember that for a long time, it’s a very hard thing to do. But the calibre of Goochie especially, as a person, he was telling me: ‘I totally understand’.

“For him to say that, when a 29-year-old is telling him ‘we want to move on’, shows just why I hold him in such high regard.”

The notable addition to Moores’ first squad, set for action in Aberdeen next Friday, is uncapped fast bowler Harry Gurney, while fellow seamer James Anderson has been recalled to a one-day squad for the first time since June.

Batsman Joe Root is included in the 13-man party after recovering from a broken thumb, but big-hitter Alex Hales, England’s star of the World Twenty20 campaign in Bangladesh, has been overlooked.

The squad members will not be eligible for the County Championship matches beginning this weekend.

ENGLAND SQUAD

■ Alastair Cook
■ James Anderson
■ Ian Bell
■ Jos Buttler
■ Chris Jordan
■ James Tredwell
■ Chris Woakes
■ Moeen Ali
■ Gary Ballance
■ Ravi Bopara
■ Harry Gurney
■ Eoin Morgan
■ Joe Root