England need Cook’s runs more than his captaincy, says Don Topley

Alastair Cook leads his team out against Pakistan last year.

Alastair Cook leads his team out against Pakistan last year. - Credit: PA

Former Essex player Don Topley has backed Alastair Cook’s decision to step down as England captain and believes the decision will benefit country and club in the weeks and months to come.

Cook (32), took over the position in 2012 and led England to Ashes series victories in 2013 and 2015.

However, his last tour culminated in a 4-0 defeat in India, leaving the Essex batsman to question his role as skipper.

Former Maldon Cricket Club player Cook is England’s highest run-scorer in Test cricket with 11,057, while his 140 Test appearances and 30 centuries are also England records.

“I am sad for Alastair Cook but I can understand why he has made the decision,” said Topley, formerly Master in Charge of Cricket at Royal Hospital School, and now a cricket commentator and after-dinner speaker.

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“I was in India for three of the Test matches and it was hard, although I don’t think that is the reason for giving it (captaincy) away.

“Alastair and the ECB are equally aware that his runs for England are far more important to England than his captaincy, going forward.

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“He will score runs galore for Essex and England and, most importantly, with the Ashes just over the horizon he will lead from the front as an opening batsman and the lads will follow.”

Of the six men to lead England in more than 40 Tests, only Michael Vaughan, Peter May and Andrew Strauss had better win percentages.

Despite that, Topley added: “He (Cook) is not a natural leader.

“He is a fantastic player who leads by example and a phenomenal opening batsman, but he is not a Mike Brearley and I think the ECB and Alastair have agreed to release the shackles from him.

“He will be remembered for the two Ashes wins but I don’t think the role of captain sat that easily with him.

“To move to that position was a natural progression, but he can return now as a man of the troops and contribute to England’s cause enormously.”

Joe Root has been heavily tipped as the natural replacement for Cook.

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