THREE games into his reign as England’s one-day captain and Alastair Cook could be forgiven for thinking his Test opening partner Andrew Strauss called it right when he announced his retirement from the 50 over game after the World Cup.
The appointment of a new captain – putting aside any individual feelings on Cook’s suitability for the role – ought to have ushered in a new dawn. On the evidence of what is turning out to be a very one-sided series, however, England are in danger of wasting a golden opportunity to move forward.
Losing to Sri Lanka is no disgrace, but being beaten by them having not attempted anything remotely different, both in terms of personnel and approach, is pretty criminal.
This England one-day unit is conservative, inflexible and built with worst case scenarios in mind. It’s great that Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan can all bat, but you don’t win one-day matches on the strength of your tail.
At a time when the best sides are experimenting and taking risks in order to win matches, Alastair Cook is relying on the same formula which brought about abject humiliation at the hands of Ireland and Bangladesh in the spring.
If England are to improve under Cook he needs to give himself more options, particularly with the ball, and that might mean making some incredibly tough decisions.
Jonathan Trott is a magnificent batsman but he simply doesn’t score quickly enough to warrant a place at No3 in limited overs cricket.
Cook and Trott batted magnificently together during the Ashes and have no doubt built up a solid friendship as a result. But captaincy, I can tell you from experience, is often about putting personal feelings and bonds aside. Axing Trott would send out the right message and dismiss suggestions that Team England is some sort of cosy club.
There are players, like leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who could add a bit of fizz and unpredictability. He might not be the answer but England are in desperate need of a fresh approach.