To say that England’s cricketers had a forgettable winter would be quite the understatement.
Without the services of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, the Three Lions were blown away by Australia in one of the most one-sided Ashes series in recent years.
Joe Root’s men were handed a 4-0 drubbing by an Aussie team that barely had to break a sweat as they reclaimed the famous little urn.
After somewhat of a recovery in the limited overs series, England crossed the Tasmin sea where they once again donned the whites against an unforgiving New Zealand team.
The Kiwi’s won the series 1-0, with England again disappointing in the longer format, embarrassingly bowled out for just 58 in the first innings of the Auckland test.
After the misery of the winter, a helter-skelter summer represents a fantastic opportunity for Root and his merry men to dispel the ghosts from Down Under, with series’ against Pakistan and India ahead.
With Ben Stokes raring to go, and with their favourite Duke ball in hand, England will be confident of asserting their dominance over their sub-continent rivals yet again.
However, what will be of particular worry to Root and coach Trevor Bayliss is the form of England’s greatest ever batsman, Alastair Cook.
Cook has been struggling for runs for a while now and was nothing more than a passenger in New Zealand, reaching double-figures just once in four innings.
His efforts at The Ashes were rather underwhelming too - barring, of course, an anomalous double century at the MCG.
Speaking ahead of the first test between England and Pakistan, David Lloyd and Nasser Hussain admitted they were concerned about the form of the former captain.
Asked if he was worried about Cook’s current plight, Lloyd responded: “Yes, I am.
“He’s looked quite innocuous of late, so this summer is a huge one for him. It’s no good just quoting his statistics and saying he will come good: it’s time he scored some runs.”
Nasser Hussain, another former captain, echoed Lloyd’s sentiments.
“Cook might be slightly worried about himself, more importantly.
“As an opener he has to get away from feast or famine, particularly with the chopping and changing at the other end.
“You can only go to the well so many times but I will say it until the last day he plays cricket – you are a fool to write off Alastair Cook.”
It does not take a rocket scientist to tell that England have missed the stability of Cook’s runs at the top of order and the onus is on the Essex batsman to make things right this summer.
Cook in full flow is a magnificent sight, and everyone will be hoping he can rediscover his touch and plunder run after run throughout the summer.
However, at 33 and with a staggering 12 000 runs under his belt, Cook’s best years may just be behind him.
Let's hope not.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms