Jim Lyon - It’s time to give Cook a break from the flak

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

It is never nice to see a good man in a bad place.

Not that Alastair Cook would necessarily complain.

But seeing him trudge back to the Trent Bridge pavilion with the expression of a kicked puppy was a sad moment.

Take away all the baggage he came into this Test with.

Simply seeing India get first go on of one the flattest pitches in memory, watch them use it for nearly two days and then, when you finally get the chance to fill your boots, you contrive to get out in an odd manner - that would wind-up most batsmen.

When you consider he is being criticised from all quarters for his poor form, that makes it worse.

When you add the fact there are certain people with agendas against him doing their best to stir things up, that doesn’t help.

And when, on top of all that, your ability to lead your country is under intense scrutiny there must be enough to make the most man content man struggle for slumber.

As he made the long walk back yesterday afternoon I can only imagine he must have been wishing he was back on the family farm, away from the glare and with only a few dozen sheep staring at him not the eyes of the cricketing world.

The consolation should be that things will come good for him.

Despite the ‘when does a bad run become the end of a career?’ comments, Cook is a man with tremendous talent.

We know that, we have seen that and we will see it again.

He is not even 30 years old yet he has played over 100 Tests and has an average of nearly 46 - despite his ‘career ending’ form in recent times.

I don’t even buy into the theory he is a bad captain. He is maybe not a natural leader but is certainly not an awful skipper.

Yet the double pressures do seem to be getting the better of him.

Is it his poor form with the bat that is making the captaincy harder or the lack of success as a captain that is having a knock-on effect on his batting?

Either way, it ain’t good for him.

This is no time for change, though.

We are at the start of a five Test series and altering the man in charge would be unthinkable now - especially considering the upheavals the national side has been through in recent months.

Also, who is going to replace him? No one in the side already would suggest they have the ability to lead the side with any more success. Not yet at least.

Short-termism is a dreadful thing in sport and, while things are not rosy at the moment, they could look a whole lot different with hindsight.

There are several successful leaders of England who have at one stage been drinking at the last chance saloon but come back to enjoy the taste of winner’s champagne.

Andrew Strauss in New Zealand, anyone?

Cook, I am sure, would not want pity and does not seem to be the sort of person who will walk away.

He has plenty of top-level cricket ahead of him and could be at the helm for England for many years to come.

It’s not great at the moment but let’s stop kicking the puppy and see what happens.