Swann, Atherton urge Alastair Cook to give up ODI captaincy
London: Continuing his verbal duel with the England captain, Graeme Swann has suggested that Alastair Cook should miss the "turmoil" of inevitable one-day failures ahead to keep himself fresh for the challenge of regaining the Ashes.
"The Ashes is the biggest thing in cricket, let's not forget that, and I am one of those that cannot give a hoot about the World Cup coming up if we win the Ashes," Swann said.
"That is why I want the England Test team to be in the best possible shape, and I believe that is with Alastair Cook as a confident leader who is still brimming with the feelings of that India Test victory. I think that is going to be chipped away this winter, when I can't see them winning many games," the former off-spinner said on BBC Radio 5 Live.
England complete their one-day series against India at Headingley on Friday, after which they have a maximum of 12 more one-day internationals, seven in Sri Lanka before Christmas and the Tri-Series in Australia, also including India, in the new year before their opening match of the World Cup, against Australia in Melbourne on February 14.
Whatever decisions are made, Swann believes it is imperative to England's Ashes chances that Cook is not scarred by what he regards as inevitable one-day failures this winter.
"The whole reason I didn't want Cooky playing in this series is that I knew the brand of cricket England were going to play. I knew it was not going to be enough and I don't want him involved in all this turmoil when he had done so well to boost his stock levels after the Test series," he said.
Cook remains determined to lead the side into the tournament, but the decision may be taken out of his hands if Paul Downton, the ECB managing director, and James Whitaker, the national selector, believe that change is necessary,
Split captaincy is the way forward for England, opines Mike Atherton:
Slamming the team's decision-making and selections, former captain Mike Atherton has said split captaincy between Test and one-day cricket is an obvious way forward for England.
"England's decision-making over the last cycle, though, is still based on the historical: selections are made through the prism of Test cricket. The captaincy is a case in point. My arguments against Alastair Cook were made three years ago at the time of his appointment and so I cannot be accused of being a Johnny-come-lately on this front," Atherton said in his column in The Times.
Arguing that next year, England play 17 Test matches between April and December, Atherton said: "It is impossible for one man to give the same amount of energy and attention to detail to two forms of the game under that kind of scheduling pressure. Split captaincy between Test and one-day cricket is an obvious way forward."
Noting that the traditional rule of thumb has always been that if you can play Test cricket you can play all forms of the game, Atherton said that may still hold true but two things have changed -- the ferocity and unforgiving nature of modern schedules -- which means that it is harder to excel at both or all three forms.
Emphasising the divergence in the Test and T20 forms of cricket, Atherton said the bowling rankings confirm just how divergent and separate these forms of the game have become.
"Of the top ten bowlers in Test cricket, eight are quick bowlers. In Twenty20, nine of the top ten are spinners, mainly the so-called mystery spinners such as Sunil Narine and Saeed Ajmal. The extreme differences between these two lists suggest that Test cricket and Twenty20 have, like rugby and rugby sevens, become completely different games," the former England captain said.
"Fifty-over cricket hovers in the middle. Sangakkara and Amla are among the top ten-ranked one-day international (ODI) players, as are batsmen such as Kohli, Quinton de Kock and Shikhar Dhawan, who helped to put England to the sword on Tuesday at Edgbaston. Increasingly the power and dynamism showed by Dhawan, as he cut and carved England into oblivion, feels closer to Twenty20 than Test cricket," he said.
Atherton said one cannot hope to fashion a World Cup-winning outfit in five months. Noting that England are fifth in the world on merit, they have not won a home series in one-day cricket since June 2012, England have lost their past four series at home and have won only two out of the past 10 one-day series that they have played.
"When some pundits have said they have no chance in New Zealand and Australia, they have been stating the obvious. Only the public's expectations have made those claims sound shrill," Artherton said