With friends like Graeme Swann, England captain Alastair Cook may feel he has no need of any enemies.
England suffered a massive 133-run defeat by world champions India in the second ODI in Cardiff on Wednesday, effectively the first of what is now a four-match series following Monday’s total washout in Bristol.
Opening batsman Cook made 19 off 33 balls as England, chasing a rain-revised target of 295 off 47 overs, were bowled out for just 161.
That came after India posted an imposing total of 304-6, with man-of-the-match Suresh Raina making exactly 100.
Former England off-spinner Swann, now a commentator with BBC Radio’s Test Match Special, said Monday that England “do not have a cat in hell’s chance” of winning the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
He also urged Cook, whose orthodox approach many pundits believe is ill-suited to the white ball game, to quit ODI cricket completely.
Until December, Swann was a teammate of Cook before dramatically retiring during England’s 5-0 Ashes hammering in Australia.
And coming towards the end of a season where several former England captains said Cook should resign as Test skipper, only for both he and the team to recover to beat India 3-1, Swann’s comments did not go down well.
“I don’t think it’s that helpful — especially from a so-called friend,” said Cook.
“He’s entitled to his opinion. [But] it’s not ideal for me, especially when you get through the summer I’ve had.”
Meanwhile Cook, whose self-confessed stubborn streak saw him continue as Test captain, was adamant he would lead the team at the World Cup, where England will try to lift the trophy for the first time in 40 years of trying.
“I am a little bit [disappointed] – because he [Swann] is a good friend of mine, and has been a supporter,” said Cook.
“It’s not helpful at this time, because I am going to be captain in this World Cup.”
For India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it was a welcome return to winning ways.
He had an excellent view of Raina’s century after the pair shared a fifth-wicket stand of 144, with Dhoni making 52.
“It was a fantastic knock,” said Dhoni. “It was important he stayed there, because he was one batsman who was set.”
England fined for slow over-rate
England have been fined for a slow over-rate during the second ODI in Cardiff on Wednesday, announced the International Cricket Council (ICC).
England captain Alastair Cook was fined 20% of his match fee and the rest of his side given 10% penalties.
“If Cook is found guilty of one more minor over-rate offence in ODIs over the next 12 months, he will receive a one-match suspension as per the provisions of the ICC code of conduct for players and player support personnel,” said the global governing body.
“The penalty was accepted by England without contest so there was no need for a hearing.” The series continues at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge ground on Saturday.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2014.