Graeme Swann has risked reigniting the wrath of Alastair Cook by once again declaring that the England captain should step down, but he has denied executing a witch-hunt against his former team-mate.
Test vs. one-day captaincy
Cook has endured a tough year, but has managed to come through relatively unscathed and with both the Test and one-day captaincies intact.
However, speaking to The Sun, former Notts and England spinner Swann called the one-day role a “poisoned chalice”, and has questioned Cook’s place in the shorter form of the game altogether.
Insisting his former side have no chance of winning a major tournament in the near future, he said: “I want England to play the exciting cricket they promised six months ago when Peter Moores took over as head coach.”
In spite of Cook’s marked improvement in recent England games, the captain’s style of play is undoubtedly better suited to Test cricket, but he remains determined to keep his place in the ODI squad.
As such, Cook has evidently been perturbed the by comments, and called Swann – with whom he played in three Ashes series’ - a “so-called friend”.
“He’s entitled to his opinion, but it’s not ideal for me, especially when you get through the summer I’ve had”, he told the BBC.
Swann is not the only one to harbour such views, with England great Sir Ian Botham echoing his concerns about their ability to play spin against the world’s top bowlers.
World Cup preparations
Swann has been looking ahead to the ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which gets underway in less than six months.
Cook’s team mates Gary Ballance and Ian Bell have also been accused of lacking the pace required for ODIs.
Ballance missed out on the second ODI, which the Three Lions lost by 133 runs, in order to play for Yorkshire in their unsuccessful Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-final against Durham.
Bell struggled, losing his wicket for a single run, but insists he is capable of improving his strike rate before next year’s tournament.
Paul Grayson, Cook’s head coach at Essex, declared the barrage of criticism against his player as a “witch-hunt” earlier this year.
Cook himself dismissed Shane Warne’s calls for his head as “personal”.
Eoin Morgan has been widely tipped to take over, with the Middlesex man having led England Lions in the past. Stuart Broad is another contender, but he has been forced to miss the current series because of an operation on his right knee. His captaincy in the T20 World Cup – which culminated in a defeat to the Netherlands – could also count against him.
Swann may have ultimately soured relations with his former team mates since retiring in the middle of last year’s Ashes, but his view is unlikely to sway the ECB, who appear to be backing Cook to the hilt.