Come in, Number One, your time is up

Well that was a risible pile of manure, wasn’t it children? The Indians came into the heart of English cricket and knocked down our flimsy house of cards, complete with its card-analysis suite, card masseur and high-performance card director, with a flamethrower. Cut the pretence, it’s looking like the 1990s again.

A sign of how desperate things are in English cricket now is that we’d almost be prepared to go back to the bad old ways of the 90s, if only so we could have a selection panel that would actually have the courage to grab matters by the soft-and-danglies and switch captains during the series. Cook is hanging on like a shipwreck survivor hangs on to the last bit of flotsam this side of the horizon, with about the same long-term chances of survival.

It’s more a question of practicality than anything else. After the final three Tests of the summer, it’s time to pack away the whites for the winter and get out the pantone colour-chart and work out what bizarre colour the ODI team will be playing in next. Yep, it’s all one-dayers until a badly shoehorned Test series in the West Indies after the ICC jamboree in March. As a result, if Cook clings on until the end of the summer and then falls on his sword (or has a sword dropped on him), it’ll leave any new incumbent five Tests (i.e. not nearly long enough) to get settled before the Ashes next year. Closer to home, England under Cook look about as likely to win a Test match as the two of us on our own (bespectacled and relatively unathletic) and, with three Tests left, the entire team need a sharp spike up the bottom to get out of this series with a respectable scoreline.

Cook’s problem is that, right now, he is neither a good batsman nor a good captain. One of these things he can fix, and indeed has a proven track record of doing so. The other… not so much. If he were scoring heaps of runs, most people would ignore the pedestrian captaincy. On the other hand, if his captaincy were brilliant, inspired and winning Test matches, you might overlook his lack of runs. Without either quality captaincy or quality batting though, you’ve got a pretty poisonous combination.

This is not the time or the place to discuss all the possible alternatives, because every print journalist in the country is currently readying their handy infographic shortlist. We’ll leave that to the experts (the selectors, not the journalists, obviously), who’ve pulled several rabbits out of the hat this summer in the form of Robson, Ballance and Ali. Between them, they must see that keeping Cook on as captain is staving off the inevitable on the one hand as well as reducing their short-term chances of success on the other.  The argument that there is no one better in the side to do it is no longer valid because the one person in the side who they have, until now, considered able to do it, clearly isn’t. They can throw Matt Prior to the wolves while they’re at it.

Personally, if only for pure entertainment value, we’d like Paul Downton to announce that KP was returning as captain to work once again with Moores and, oh, by the way, all is forgiven. You wouldn’t be able to hear much over the sound of several hundred journalists’ vital organs exiting via the nearest available orifice, but we would at least be able to sit back with a large box of popcorn to watch it all unfold, knowing we’d finally hit rock bottom. Bearing in mind we started this blog because the 72 all out against Pakistan in 2012 looked about as low as things could go, the England team might be scraping its barnacled hull along the stony depths a little while longer.

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