Alastair Cook’s ability to conjure an immediate response from his players following a troubled beginning to his captaincy in India has been instrumental to his subsequent success in the role and England’s strong start to the Ashes, according to Jonathan Trott.
Cook succeeded Andrew Strauss in the role after Strauss retired last summer and his tenure began with a nine-wicket defeat to India in Ahmedabad in November. England recovered to win the series – their first in India since 1984 – and Cook has not led a losing side in a Test since. England have won their last four Tests, including the first two against Australia.
“He slotted in straightaway and we saw the team respond to him after being 1-0 down after Ahmedabad and coming back to win 2-1 in India,” said Trott. “So there was a good sign for Alastair, a good confidence boost for him as captain and us playing underneath him. When you start as captain you want to start winning and he has done that. Especially when he took over the one-dayers as well – there was a lot of pressure on him to do well and captain a winning team.”
Cook took over the one-day side three years ago and has won 29 of his 49 games in charge, including overseeing England’s progress to the final of the Champions Trophy this summer. His own form in both formats of the game has stood out since his elevation. Including two Tests in Bangladesh when he stood in for Strauss, Cook averages 60.6 as captain compared to a career average of 48.5, and has scored seven hundreds in his 13 Tests in charge. Four of his five one-day centuries have come as captain.
Trott believes Cook has handled the added pressure of leading in an Ashes series adeptly. “He is coping very well,” said Trott. “If you win as a captain there is less scrutiny on your decisions. But we have played some good cricket. We have given ourselves the opportunity to get into winning positions and been able to capitalise on them.”
Cook’s open-minded approach to leading the side, including a willingness to listen to team-mates, has also impressed Trott. As one of a core of experienced players in the side – Trott will play his 46th Test at Old Trafford next week – the 32-year-old has taken on what has become an increasingly important role, advising his captain on whether to refer decisions.
“Alastair is very good at asking guys for information. I always feel comfortable going up to him and speaking about cricket and giving him a few options and a bit of advice. He is good at taking it and thinking about it – and then not using it!
“Standing at slip to the spinners, I’ve got a job with regard to the DRS and lbws and nicks and stuff like that. The Phil Hughes one at Nottingham [leg-before to Graeme Swann], I said I thought it pitched in line and so we referred that one. So I’ll claim that one. That’s my wicket.”
Trott has had a curate’s egg of a series, two starts, 58 and 48, and two ducks, including the controversial DRS call at Trent Bridge when Hot Spot was unavailable.
“When I was a bit younger it might have been a bit harder to take – but the more experience you gain, the more able you are to move on a bit quicker,” he said. “Yes, it’s very disappointing. I wasn’t happy. But we were then 11 for 2 so I couldn’t go back to the changing room and start throwing my toys and being upset about it. I had to be philosophical and I managed to do that. It’s important that everyone has that mindset in the team because it is quite a high-pressure situation when you go out to bat in an Ashes Test match.”
Jonathan Trott was test driving the new Jaguar XFR-S. For more information, visit jaguar.com