Is the worst yet to come from Cook's England?

Alastair Cook

With Matt Prior's withdrawal from the Test squad and captain Alastair Cook on the verge of losing his captaincy, the future looks bleak for English cricket.

Since the begining home Ashes last year, Alastair Cook has averaged less than 24 with the bat. England have lost seven of their last ten Test matches.

The number of discerning voices questioning his captaincy have grown steadily and will continue to do so in the aftermath of the latest defeat at Lord's. But whilst the young players like Moeen Ali, Gary Balance and Sam Robson have all made centuries recently, English fans should perhaps brace themselves for some more disappointment. Here are some reasons why.

Gruelling Schedule

England have 10 test matches in their fixture list between now and next September. However there is the small matter of a whopping 35 limited over Internationals in the same period. (That's not taking into account their progression, in the World Cup next summer). Comparing their schedule with other countries as a justification of it is rendered moot when ECB have a player rotation plan that's fallen short of acceptable. The likes of Root, Bell, Balance, Ali, Stokes and Broad could thus suffer burnout before a ball is bowled in next summer's Ashes.  

Rudderless ship

Alastair Cook's captaincy has at times made the England side look like a rudderless ship just drifting along. Well eventually a drifting ship crashes and the England side have certainly suffered a few rocky blows over the course of last year. The alternatives are bleak to say the least. If Cook's captaincy could be described as absent at best, Stuart Broad's skippering efforts in T20 internationals isn't much better.

That leaves Ian Bell and Joe Root. Ian Bell has averaged under 27 with the bat since the start of last winter's Ashes. Despite having a "good cricket brain" and with experience of skippering Warwickshire, it looks the most likely option. But he's only in this side because his record, and doubts over whether he has the strength of character to stand up to other senior players remain. Since that was one of the criticisms levelled at Cook, Bell's captaincy could lead to more drifting.

Joe Root would be a surprise and bold choice, one which the ECB are unlikely to make. Handling of his England career thus far has been managed with the same intricate detail as a NASA team launching 5 astronauts into space. His appointment will come when the conditions for him to succeed are right, which is not now.  

The genius allergy

Mohammad Ali once said champions have something deep inside them, something they're born with. He was right. Genius is impossible to explain and it doesn't conform to methodic approach. It defies structure. It's fluidity in motion. You can't teach it and it has to be respected, encouraged and most importantly not feared. What's more the nature of players such as Kevin Pietersen is that they aren't used to being confined, whether it's to a batting manual textbook or an ECB official ruling on how he can improve his performance. The ECB have created a culture and environment which is mutually exclusive to such flamboyance. There is an air of authority and boundaries which aren't inducive to producing World class players. For the foreseeable future therefore, England fans are unlikely to be entertained by a Pietersen or a Flintoff for a while. 

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Rana Malook is sports writer for HITC. You can tweet him @rararana