Shane Warne has singled out captain Alastair Cook’s “negative” captaincy as the main reason England will fail to record an unprecedented fourth successive Ashes series victory.
With England due to begin their second warm-up match of the tour in Hobart on Wednesday, former Australia leg-spinner Warne also raised doubts over Joe Root’s ability as an opener in comments that are bound to increase the tension between the two teams ahead of the first Test in Brisbane later this month.
Warne was a regular critic of Cook’s style of captaincy throughout the summer series, which England won 3-0 on home soil. But speaking to The Independent, the second-highest Test wicket-taker in history believes the tourists will struggle to repeat that result unless they can find a way to out-think Australia’s Michael Clarke.
“If Australia play well, and Cook continues to captain the way he does, I think he will lose the series,” Warne said. “Michael Clarke, to me, is the best captain in the world at the moment. He’s got a lot of imagination, the fields he comes up with to Jonathan Trott or Cook. Cook would never have a leg-slip, bat-pad or leg-gully. He’s not proactive. He’s not aggressive.”
Warne lost only one Ashes series he played in before retiring following the 5-0 whitewash in 2006-07. His comments about Cook’s captaincy were dismissed as “trash talk” and a “PR game” by the England bowler Stuart Broad last week, but Warne’s latest criticism of rising star Root is a new departure. “Root played well at Lord’s, but I don’t think he is an opener because of his technique,” he said.
“Australia found him out and especially in Australian conditions he would get found out more. You cannot hang back and get stuck on the crease in Australia because of the pace of the wickets.”
“The No 6 spot is a bit of a weak link,” Warne added. “I’d open with [Michael] Carberry and put Root down to six.”