Alastair Cook has been in a circumspect mood as he approaches his 150th test. Cook’s England journey started back in 2006 in India and since then he has stood witness to various controversies that have developed. From an outspoken Kevin Pietersen being axed to first-round exits at World Cups, Cook has been around the block but now warns the Three Lions that they are facing a new test in the form of enhanced scrutiny away from the cricket pitch.
The former England captain rues the fact that the attention the England cricket team will be similar to the national football team now. Cook said, “It’s sad in one sense because, a bit different from football, we’ve always been able to go under the radar, enjoying playing cricket for England and also enjoy seeing the country we’re touring”. The world according to Cook has changed for good since September and it’s up to England to waste no time in adapting as, so he says, they can’t afford any more mistakes.
Cook is completely right of course and in his simple and effective way of summing up situations there lies a stark warning to his teammates. He may not be the captain anymore but the Essex batsman is a leader within the team and his words shouldn’t be disregarded if England are to win the trust back of the public. A more professional approach away from the cricket pitch could help England’s performance on it.
The Three Lions have been woefully short of the high standards they set for themselves and with the talent on show have done themselves a disservice. England’s odds of 25/1 to retain the Ashes says all any observer needs to know about the state of the 2017 edition of the Ashes. A flutter when England are staring down the barrel seems bold but stranger things have happened and Alastair Cook has referred to the Perth test as the biggest game of the England players’ lives.
England’s disciplinary issues leading up to the third test at the WACA have made for extraordinary reading and left many questions about the culture of the team. The murmurings of a drinking culture being prevalent within the squad has grown louder with more astonishing stories developing during England’s Ashes campaign Down Under. The latest incident involved Lions batsman Ben Duckett being banned for the rest of the tour after pouring a drink over James Anderson at a bar in Perth last week.
As far as Alastair Cook is concerned, everything changed for the England team after Ben Stoke’s well-documented incident outside a nightclub in Bristol. The only way forward is to smarten up and realise the focus on the players playing for England won’t go away. There was a time when England could tour a country and enjoy the sights and sounds without the glare of the media. Those days are now well and truly gone.
After all that has taken place in Australia over the last couple of months it is up to England to save some face with three test matches to go. A reaction from the team in Perth is more than likely and will be demanded by the English public. A series win may seem unlikely but there is still time for Root’s men to give Australia a bloody nose and not roll over.
If a whitewash does happen then heads are bound to roll in some form or another in the England camp. The postmortem will make for ugly reading and a scapegoat will be found. When Cook says the England players are playing for their lives he is not trying to sound sensational. It isn’t in Cook’s make-up to be and all he is doing is calling it like it is. With a whitewash comes the end of careers and Cook will know his time with England could also come to an end.
If England are to take heed of Cook’s advice and smarten up then there is a chance the 2017 Ashes doesn’t have to be a bloodbath for English cricket. England’s leading test run scorer is an old hand at surviving mass change within a team when it does happen and when he issues warning cries they should be listened to. If England don’t adopt a more streetwise approach there will be grave consequences ahead.