Cook on defensive over his record as captain

Yorkshire's Joe Root and Gary Ballance in the nets at Headingley.
Yorkshire's Joe Root and Gary Ballance in the nets at Headingley.
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ALASTAIR COOK has lashed out at criticism of his captaincy by Shane Warne and said “something needs to be done” about what he claims are personal attacks.

Warne has long been an outspoken critic of Cook and even called for him to be replaced as captain before last winter’s Ashes.

The former Australia leg-spinner criticised England’s slow over-rate during last week’s first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s and Cook’s delayed second-innings declaration as the tourists clung on for a draw with nine wickets down.

Cook bristled at suggestions ahead of today’s second Test at Headingley that he could seek advice from Warne and other ex-leaders

Instead he allowed his anger to boil over as he made clear: “Something needs to be done because for the three years I’ve been England captain I have, in my eyes, been criticised for a hell of a lot.

“Yes, when we lose games of cricket, as a captain you get criticised, but I’ve also won a lot of games of cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain; I’ve won an Ashes, I’ve won in India away, and that’s what I’m proud of.

“So to be criticised for three years totally with those results I find quite hard to take, to be honest, and support and positivity is what this England team needs.

“The crowd at Lord’s were brilliant, the public there were fantastic, and a bit more support like that will hold everyone in good stead.”

Asked whether he thought the criticism was personal, Cook replied: “Yes, I think it is.”

Cook’s decisions are constantly dissected as they inevitably are with any England captain.

He is adamant he is doing a good job.

“As always, with cricket tactics, there’s a different way of doing it,” he said.

“Everyone will have a different view; that’s cricket. I’m doing it the way I feel is right on the pitch.

“That is the end of it.”

Cook’s authority has been further undermined by a run-scoring drought at odds with his status as one of England’s finest batsmen.

He has gone 22 innings without a Test century – his last was 130 against New Zealand at Leeds in May last year – and he managed only 17 and 28 at Lord’s.

“I need to get back to scoring as many runs as I can,” he admitted.

“It’s crucial, and I just have to keep working hard.

“I haven’t been converting starts into big scores, which I did at the beginning of my captaincy. That’s been the frustration, and I’m just doubly determined to lead from the front and get a big score.”

Despite criticism of his captaincy at Lord’s, which was far from confined to Warne’s lips, Cook was pleased at his side’s performance.

England had the better of events against a workmanlike side – one they should beat at Headingley, particularly given a favourable weather forecast.

“A lot of stuff’s been written over the last week but, from inside the camp, last week couldn’t have gone any better,” said Cook.

“Yes, we didn’t quite get over the line, but what we did, I was incredibly proud of. If we play that way every time in a Test match, when I’m captain, I will be incredibly proud.”

One of the reasons England failed to win was due to their lack of a world-class spinner.

The retirement of Graeme Swann has left a gaping chasm.

“It is a cause for concern and something we need to address as quickly as we can,” said Cook.

“We haven’t actually discussed that yet, with two new coaches having just come in.

“But we know we need a good frontline spinner to balance the attack as you don’t become a really good side without one.

“At the moment, we think this is the best side, so you might carry on seeing this side play until we feel that someone (another spinner) is ready.”

Cook believes the problem is deep-rooted. English pitches are rarely conducive to spinners, captains are often reluctant to use them, and the schedule makes it hard for them to develop.

“It’s an area that’s a concern in the English game,” said Cook.

“I think something like 12 or 13 games will be played in the County Championship by some sides before the end of June, and yet spinners don’t bowl that much until it gets hotter.

“So that’s obviously something we need to look at. Not just from an England team point of view, but the whole country.”