Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Legendary India batsman Rahul Dravid and former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith both believe that England made the right decision to sack Alastair Cook as ODI captain.
Cook was stripped of the captaincy and replaced by Eoin Morgan following England’s disastrous tour of Sri Lanka in November, where they were thrashed 5-2 in the seven-match ODI series.
“They tried to give him every single opportunity to try and correct that because they believe he was the right leader to take England into the World Cup,” Dravid said. “But his form was not good enough to warrant a place in the playing eleven. There were others exciting players. It was almost changing the way England plays cricket to suit one person and try and get him into the playing eleven. They hoped that he would get into good form. But once it did not happen, they made the change. Better late than never. It would have been really difficult for them to go into a World Cup with the captain in such poor form.”
Smith agreed with Dravid’s comments and added: “For me it was never was about selectors, it was always about team-mates. You are asking a lot from your team. You’re trying to get the best out of your team consistently. It’s very important that as a captain you perform yourself, that you lead by example – often that benefits your leadership.”
Both Dravid and Smith also feel that England made a grave mistake by terminating Kevin Pietersen’s contract at the end of the 2013-14 Ashes series, in which England were whitewashed 5-0 by Australia.
“You always look at how that player was managed,” Smith said. “Did they have a lot of discussion? Did they give him an opportunity to put things right and did he not listen? For me, I think it was a mistake. He was one match-winner in the team. What it boils down to is the mindset of the England team. It is very stats driven, lots of sheets of paper, trying to decide what’s the best way to run a team, the best way to play cricket. And it sort of lacks the instinctive style of play that KP has. They probably need more of that in cricket and less of the sort of run-of-the-mill, tick-the-boxes.”
Dravid also pointed out that Pietersen was the type of player who could take the game away from any opposition.
“In my opinion they made that decision a little too early because he’s been a great player,” Dravid said. “And irrespective of what your feelings are about him, he’s the kind of player that can impact a game, change a game. I mean, England’s one big ICC tournament success in the recent past has been the World T20 and Pietersen played a big role in that. He’s one power player, one X-factor that England had and I thought they would have tried their best [to keep him playing]. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t and we will never know the real story. But once they went down that path to change it at the last minute was never going to happen.”