London – England captain Alastair Cook will be under pressure as never before when he tries to return the team to winning ways this season, according to former skipper Michael Vaughan.
Despite leading the side in their 5-0 Ashes rout by Australia and enduring a loss of form as well, Essex opener Cook has retained his position as Test and one-day captain.
But the fall-out from a wretched tour programme has seen Andy Flower step down as coach and be replaced by Peter Moores, now in his second spell in the job.
Significantly, Cook was also involved in the decisions to end the international career of Kevin Pietersen, England’s all-time leading run-scorer, and ditch his Essex mentor Graham Gooch as the team’s batting coach.
In the circumstances, Vaughan believes Cook will be desperate for a successful series against Sri Lanka and India, England’s opponents in their home international programme this season.
“The pressure is on him. Any failure, any disappointment will be jumped on by a lot of people,” Vaughan, who led England in 51 Tests from 2003 until 2008, told BBC Sport.
“Even though he’s won an Ashes and won in India, Cook will probably feel like this is a fresh start, what he’s going to be judged on as an England captain.
“He has made some tough calls. He has got rid of his best pal – batting coach Graham Gooch – although I believe it was a management decision and a Peter Moores coaching decision as much as Alastair Cook’s.
“He has got rid of the man who has scored more runs for England than anyone else in Kevin Pietersen so, although the public will be behind him, there will also be more pressure on the England side.”
Cook is set to lead England in the first one-day international against Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday and former off-spinner Graeme Swann, who dramatically retired during the Ashes, said an early win would do wonders for the morale of both players and fans alike.
“Alastair Cook will be desperate for a couple of new heroes to emerge and really stamp their names on proceedings for the summer and become the new faces of English cricket,” Swann told BBC Radio Five.
“We need to play in front of full houses, we need to play exciting cricket, but most importantly we just need to win.
“Three or four wins at the start of this summer and all will be forgotten.” – Sapa-AFP