Graham Gooch believes Alastair Cook’s current slump has gone beyond a loss of form and he will need to remodel his game if he is to return to scoring hundreds.
The England captain goes into Thursday’s second Test against India at Lord’s without a Test century for 16 months, a run stretching across 25 innings during which he has passed 50 only seven times and attained a highest score of 72. In the first Test against India last week he was bowled off his thigh pad and round his legs for five.
Gooch, who helped mentor Cook for many years with Essex and England prior to being sacked as England’s batting coach in the post-Ashes cull, said: “He has found all sorts of ways of getting out recently, and that is what happens when you’re in this kind of form, but it would be wrong to say this is just bad form.
“Alastair does not get 8,500 runs in Test cricket without being a good player. You don’t score 25 Test hundreds without being a good player.
“I think sometimes people forget just how good a run-maker he is, but in this instance he is not just in a run of bad form; opposition teams have worked out how to bowl to him to stop him scoring, to stop him playing shots.
“Australia did it, Sri Lanka, and now India have copied it. He has to go back and look at his game and remake it, to work out ways to score runs. We have all had to do it at some point in our careers, though it is difficult in the middle of a Test series.
“It is a challenge he has got now and it is up to him to find a way to combat what the opposition are doing to him. He can do it, though. Look at the way he played when he came back into the one-day team. Everyone said he couldn’t score runs quick enough but he was one of the quickest scorers. And he didn’t do it by slogging.
“But when he gets out there, it sounds trite, but he has to try and score runs – not think, ‘I am going to be tight and hang in there and they won’t get me out’; he has to look to score runs.
“I am confident he will come through. He is a great player, he’s proved that by the runs he has made, and I’m sure he will score heavily again for England like he has in the past.”
Gooch, who was speaking at an event at Lord’s organised by Hardys, England’s wine sponsor, also said Cook had been mistaken to respond to Shane Warne’s constant criticism of his captaincy.
“I think you have to stay focused on what you are going to do,” Gooch added. “All this stuff down the years with players saying ‘I don’t read the press, it doesn’t affect me’, that is rubbish. Complete lies. That sort of criticism affects everyone. No one likes to be criticised; everyone likes to be buttered up and told they are good, to want to be loved, that is the world we live in.
“He needs to remain true, and get on with what he does best – and that is being a run-maker.”