Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 08:25pm
Captains call for Cook to step down
England's 95-run defeat to India on Monday extended their winless streak in Tests to 10 matches - seven of which have ended in defeat - and Cook's own poor form with the bat continued as he contributed just 32 runs in his two innings at Lord's.
After the match the under-pressure Cook spoke of his determination to continue as captain, but several of his predecessors believe a change is now needed.
Atherton, who captained England a record 54 times in Tests up until 2001, wrote in The Times: "It gives no pleasure to write it, but the tap on the shoulder for Alastair Cook should come.
"The cruellest cut would also be the kindest cut, as it would be in this fine cricketer's best interests, so that he can find a way to score runs and enjoy his cricket game."
Atherton, who does not believe England will take the captaincy away from Cook, also highlights the concern that there is no obvious replacement for the 29-year-old but says Ian Bell, Joe Root, Stuart Broad and Eoin Morgan are worthy of consideration.
Vaughan, meanwhile, believes Morgan is the man the England and Wales Cricket Board should turn to now even though the Middlesex batsman is not currently in the Test line-up.
Vaughan, who enjoyed a successful stint in charge of England between 2003 and 2008 when he led the team in 51 Tests, wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "For me, Cook would be best off taking a six-month break and chilling out with his family.
"Resting him now might look like a harsh decision, as if you were shooting down a loyal servant. But, in fact, it would be a kindness to protect Cook from the strain that comes with representing England day in, day out. I want to see him playing another six years of Test cricket.
"In the meantime, I would do something radical. I'm sick of seeing us do things by the book.
"The most important event for England ahead of next year's Ashes is the World Cup. So, how about bringing in Eoin Morgan as captain for the rest of this series?
"The England team is crying out for someone with a different viewpoint and Morgan has a lot of tactical awareness and a strong personality. Clearly it would be a risk. But it might be time to throw the dice in the air."
The likes of Nasser Hussain and Geoffrey Boycott believe change is now needed while another former captain, Sir Ian Botham, also feels it would be for the best if England's record Test century-maker steps down.
Botham wrote in the Daily Mirror: "The burden of captaincy is definitely weighing Alastair Cook down. In my opinion he needs a break from the job and the game.
"I feel for the captain, he's been the hero and he scored hundreds for fun in his first few games in charge, but now he is patting back half-volleys and nicking wide balls.
"I would think you've got to fall on your sword at some stage. He's got to say, 'this is not working, it's running through the team now and I'm stepping down'.
"It is all well and good the captain standing there and saying, 'I'm trying very hard and giving it everything' but when the brain is scrambled, it's scrambled.
"If he wants to keep playing and England appoint a new captain then I'm sure they will be happy for him to play. It might just free him up, and it didn't do me any harm did it?"
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Alastair Cook is facing increasing pressure as England captain