Out-of-Sorts England Captain Alastair Cook Gets Stuart Broad Backing

Updated: 02 July 2014 13:26 IST

England all-rounder Stuart Broad rallied around his skipper Alastair Cook, insisting he was the best man to lead the side at the moment.

Out-of-Sorts England Captain Alastair Cook Gets Stuart Broad Backing
England skipper Alastair Cook has come under heavy criticism after England's series loss to Sri Lanka at home © AFP

England allrounder Stuart Broad insisted on Tuesday that Alastair Cook remained the right man to lead in Test cricket as he all but disclaimed his own chances of leading his country in the five-day game. England recently went down to a 1-0 defeat in a two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka, with Cook's highest score in four innings a meagre 28. (England suffering 'Ashes Hangover', Says Kevin Pietersen)

That meant the left-handed opener had gone more than a year since scoring the last of his England record 25 hundreds, while his performance in the field on the fourth day in the second Test at Headingley -- which Sri Lanka went on to win by 100 runs -- led to criticism from the likes of Shane Warne and Geoffrey Boycott. (Cook Must Quit or Take a Break: Shane Warne)

However, Broad -- England's Twenty20 skipper -- said he was looking forward to seeing Cook get back amongst the runs in a five-Test series against India which starts at the Nottinghamshire paceman's Trent Bridge home ground next week.

"I certainly think Cooky is the right man for the job now and once he gets one hundred under his belt I think he'll get many more -- I'm just looking forward to that hundred celebration when he does it," Broad said at a news conference in London.

"He's a relaxed guy, there's a few of us who have played long enough to know we're in a stats and results-driven business so when you're not scoring runs or taking wickets you expect a certain amount of flack. That won't change until he scores a hundred and Cooky knows that. "Obviously winning Test matches helps with his captaincy but even if we're winning and he's not scoring hundreds he'll be getting a certain amount of stick."

While India's Kapil Dev and Pakistan's Imran Khan enjoyed some memorable victories as a Test captain, England -- with the notably unsuccessful exceptions of Ian Botham and Bob Willis -- have rarely entrusted the honour to a new-ball bowler such as Broad, who would then face the issue of when best to bowl himself.

"As a fast bowler, captaincy is quite a tough thing over the long format of the game," said Broad, who along with top-order batsman Ian Bell would be one of the most obvious successors to replace Cook as Test skipper.

"(West Indies) Courtney Walsh did it for a little bit, Bob Willis did it for a summer, (South Africa's) Shaun Pollock."

Broad, a dangerous lower-order run-scorer, added: "I do think Test captaincy is more suited to a batsman, who can stand at slip and get a feel for the game."

Former India left-arm spinner Ravi Shastri, a member of the 1986 side that won a Test series in England, compared Cook's position to that of David Gower, who 28 years ago was replaced as England captain by Mike Gatting during a 2-0 defeat in a three-match campaign.

"David Gower, another left-hander, was under tremendous pressure, so as an Indian player we would want this debate to carry on with Alastair Cook," Shastri, speaking alongside Broad, said. "All the players in our dressing room said was 'don't allow David to get any runs in the first Test or in the first three innings, let the pressure build,' and it built.

"He lost his captaincy after that and India won the series." Turning to Cook, Shastri said: "He'll get through this and get loads of runs for England and break all records. But do you want a captain who is not playing freely or do you want Alastair Cook, as a batsman, to go out and play freely and get runs for England?"

Broad called for all those found guilty of match-fixing to be given the same lifetime ban as handed down to former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent on Tuesday. The punishment, which was confirmed by the England and Wales Cricket Board, stems from one-day matches that Vincent admitted he helped rig in English county cricket.

His former Sussex team-mate, Naveed Arif, was also banned for life last month after admitting similar corruption offences. Broad's lone Test century, a superb innings of 169 against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010, was overshadowed by newspaper revelations that the Pakistani trio of then captain Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were ready to take part in the deliberate bowling of no balls in that match in return for cash.

All three were subsequently banned for a minimum of five years by the International Cricket Council. But Pakistani officials said last week they were hopeful left-arm seamer Amir, now 22, might return to domestic cricket before his worldwide ban expires in September 2015 under a new draft clause in a revised ICC anti-corruption code.

However, Broad said if he had his way, the Pakistani trio would not have a hope of a return, insisting that in the light of their case there was no excuse for "naivety" when it came to the issue of corruption. "There's no excuse now around awareness of match-fixing," Broad said.

"We sit through the most boring of lectures saying 'watch out for this' or 'watch out for that', helplines and all that sort of thing. We have to do it through the ICC protocol," the 28-year-old Nottinghamshire paceman explained. "We do it before every World Cup and any new player who comes into the side gets called into an anti-corruption meeting.

"There's no excuse for naivety any more so I don't really see why it wouldn't be a flat out life ban," added Broad, the son of former England opener turned ICC match referee Chris Broad. "That would scare a lot of people out of it, I'd hope. "A five-year ban, a 10-year ban? I'd pretty much make it a flat-out lifetime ban if I was in control. But I'm not."

Shastri said he hoped his country would follow the example of other leading cricket nations, including England, in changing the law to make fixing a criminal offence. "What India is pushing for in our country is to put something in the constitution that allows criminal prosecution," Shastri said.

"So it's not just a life ban. He should be sitting in the clink for seven, eight years. That would give any youngster the shivers."

Butt, Asif and Amir, together with their agent Mazhar Majeed, were jailed by an English court in 2011. The players were released in 2012. Earlier on Tuesday, Vincent admitted his guilt as he accepted the ECB ban, which will apply globally, by saying in a statement: "My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat."

Meanwhile, with Vincent under investigation by police, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White, while supporting the ECB ban, also said: "Unfortunately, and as has been well-documented over recent months, Mr Vincent is also involved in a different capacity with a British police investigation. As such NZC is unable to comment on matters which might yet need to be tested in a court of law."

ICC chief executive David Richardson, in "endorsing" the ECB's move, said the global governing body had a "zero-tolerance approach towards corruption". But with Vincent confessing his wrongdoing, the former South Africa wicketkeeper added the ICC "commend him for having the courage to finally tell the truth and to cooperate with the investigations".

Topics : England Alastair Cook Stuart Broad Cricket
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