Alastair Cook Expresses Sympathy For Joe Root Over England's Rotation Policy
Joe Root
Joe Root Photograph: Sri Lanka Cricket
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Alastair Cook Expresses Sympathy For Joe Root Over England’s Rotation Policy

Alastair Cook has expressed sympathy for Joe Root, his successor as England’s Test captain, over a rotation policy he believes has left the current side “chasing their tail”. Several key players have been deliberately omitted from the eight Tests that England has played so far this year, meaning Joe Root has repeatedly been denied his strongest XI.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have defended the rotation system as a sensible response to the peculiar pressures of prolonged periods amidst the bio-secure bubbles which are now needed for the international game to continue amidst the coronavirus-induced pandemic.

File image of Alastair Cook. Reuters
File image of Alastair Cook. Reuters

Alastair Cook Genuinely Feel Sorry For Joe Root Who’s Been Denied England’s Best Possible XI Due To Controversial Rotation Policy

But with the likes of wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler having missed five Tests in a row, partly also as a result of his Indian Premier League commitments, many have questioned the policy’s implementation, if not the motives behind it amidst accusations it has been skewed in favour of white-ball cricket. England went 1-0 up away to India in February after a victory in Chennai — Jos Buttler’s last Test.

But they lost that series 3-1 and this month their seven-year run without a home Test series defeat ended after New Zealand won a two-match campaign 1-0, with a draw at Lord’s followed by an eight-wicket defeat at Edgbaston. Injuries to pacer Jofra Archer and all-rounder Ben Stokes have been compounded by rest breaks for the likes of Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, and Mark Wood.

England batsman Jos Buttler
England batsman Jos Buttler (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“You have to say it hasn’t worked for Rooty, and I do genuinely feel sorry for him,” said Cook who was taking part in a sponsor’s event on Monday.

“When you’re playing for England, or you’re the captain, coach, or selector, you get judged on end results most of the time and he hasn’t had his best players available. You can’t buy the experience of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali — that kind of players make a big difference.”

Opening batsman Cook, who retired from international duty in 2018 as England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, added: “I’ve never had to captain during a pandemic — I didn’t even know what a pandemic was when I was captain — but you’ve got a Test captain who hasn’t been able to play his best side.”

“The decisions don’t seem like they’ve been made correctly. I’ve been on the other side, where you’re trying to make decisions for the right reasons, but you get judged on your results by it, don’t you?”

“It was going so well, winning Test series at home, then Sri Lanka away and 1-0 up against India. Then you rest and rotate players, and ever since that moment on it’s been chasing their tail a little bit.”

But multi-format star Jos Buttler in a separate conference call Monday, said: “I don’t think there are any perfect answers.”

The dashing shot-maker, who played for Lancashire in the T20 Blast, will be back on England duty when Eoin Morgan’s limited-overs side begins a three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.

He added: “Of course it’s always frustrating to miss games. You wish you were available for everything. But in the current climate with all the complications of Covid etc, I do think we have to look after our people.”

Multi-format players Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes were rested after completing a quarantine period following the postponement of the Indian Premier League 2021. All-rounder Ben Stokes (fractured finger) and seam bowler Jofra Archer (elbow injury) were not considered for selection for the New Zealand Tests.

Alastair Cook Warned Against Wholesale Changes To England Test XI

Meanwhile, Alastair Cook warned against wholesale changes to an under-performing Test-match top order where Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, and Dan Lawrence have all had their positions questioned ahead of an upcoming five-match series at home to India, currently contesting the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

Zak Crawley-Twitter
Zak Crawley-Twitter

Alastair Cook, still playing for Essex, was asked if he had seen any obvious replacements on the county circuit, ahead of England’s bid to regain the Ashes in Australia later this year.

“No, not really, not in terms of someone who is totally ready,” he replied. “These players, I would say, are the best players around. It just seems like when the pressure is on, they haven’t yet found their method yet to be able to respond to that.”

The likes of James Bracey, Joe Denly, Tom Lammonby, Joe Clarke, Will Rhodes, Sam Northeast, James Vince, Gary Ballance and Dawid Malan are in contention for Test recall, debut or more opportunities.