Cricket: Ex-skipper Cook feels unfairly blamed for Pietersen's removal

Alastair Cook during the series against India in November, when he set a record for the most Tests (55) as England captain. Though his final series ended on a low with a 4-0 thrashing, he considers his time at the helm as "amazing" and an "incredible
Alastair Cook during the series against India in November, when he set a record for the most Tests (55) as England captain. Though his final series ended on a low with a 4-0 thrashing, he considers his time at the helm as "amazing" and an "incredible honour". PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Alastair Cook said he felt left "out to dry" by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over the Kevin Pietersen affair three years ago, while his decision to stand down as Test captain was due to the realisation that a new voice was needed in the dressing room.

Speaking for the first time since resigning on Monday - a decision that has left his vice-captain, Joe Root, poised to take over - Cook tackled the thorny subject of Pietersen's banishment from the side after the 2013-14 Ashes.

He admitted he had few regrets during his tenure but that the issue was poorly managed by his employers. "It was obviously a big part of my captaincy," he told Sky Sports.

"I felt like it wasn't handled particularly well by the ECB. I know I was the lightning rod for it, every person thought it was my decision. I felt I bore the brunt of that, unfairly in my personal opinion.

"As much power as you get as England captain, you don't have the ultimate decision on that sort of thing. Yes, I was part of the decision-making, as six or seven other people were. I didn't actually have that final trigger and I felt as if I was the only person who made that decision.

"I felt a little bit let down by the ECB by that one period, where they kind of let me out to dry a little bit. But that's all gone now. It's part and parcel of the challenge of being a captain."


Alastair Cook during the series against India in November, when he set a record for the most Tests (55) as England captain. Though his final series ended on a low with a 4-0 thrashing, he considers his time at the helm as "amazing" and an "incredible honour". PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Calling time after a record 59 Tests in a job he described as "amazing" and an "incredible honour", he pledged to support his successor and targeted four or five more years as the senior batsman in the side and a mentor to his younger team-mates.

"It was an easy decision because I felt, unfortunately, that I was done," he said. "After leading the team for 41/2 years it's time to hear a new voice."

BEARING THE BRUNT OF THE DECISION

Yes, I was part of the decision-making, as six or seven other people were. I didn't actually have that final trigger and I felt as if I was the only person who made that decision.

ALASTAIR COOK, former England Test cricket captain, on Kevin Pietersen's removal from the team in 2014 amid the fallout over a 5-0 thrashing by Australia in the Ashes.

Cook once again endorsed Root's credentials as captain, describing him as a "bloody good cricketer" whose record commands respect, but also mentioned Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler.

While describing them as "left-field" alternatives, it is clear from his words that a generational shift has now occurred and the dressing room is theirs.

His advice to the next captain?

"Enjoy the challenge of it. Be open to other people's ideas as well and get a good group of people around that you can trust."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-skipper Cook feels unfairly blamed for Pietersen's removal'. Print Edition | Subscribe