Alastair Cook plans to raise a glass to predecessor Andrew Strauss before tackling the thorny issue of how to replace one the most celebrated Test captains in England history.
Strauss fell on his sword at Lord’s yesterday afternoon, leading to the widely-anticipated promotion of Cook, who was his vice-captain in the longer format and had already taken over the one-day leadership after last year’s World Cup.
The 50-over transition has thus far run smoothly, with some impressive performances and 10 victories against just one defeat, albeit sustained on Tuesday, since the turn of the year.
The 27-year-old nevertheless knows he has a huge job on his hands but his first plan is to pay sufficient homage to his retired colleague.
“Obviously I’ve got huge boots to fill following Straussy,” said Cook, sitting alongside Strauss at Lord’s.
“He’s done an incredible job. Speaking for the players, it was a sad dressing room yesterday (Tuesday) when we found out. I think that speaks volumes for Straussy and what he has done for the side.
“It was sad, it was sudden news and we have all seen Straussy as our leader, me included.
“We have such huge challenges to come as a side, India away and two Ashes series, so we have to move on quickly. That is the way sport goes. But I know in that dressing room we will share a beer with Straussy and remember what he has done — an amazing job for this team.”
One of the most pressing issues facing Cook is the continuing uncertainty surrounding maverick batsman Kevin Pietersen.
He is currently out of the England side, having retired from limited-overs cricket and then being dropped for the final Test against South Africa after a series of events related to “trust and mutual respect”, in the words of team director Andy Flower.
Cook has taken a back-seat role in the row so far but, with the Test squad for the November series against India due soon, will soon be heavily involved. “I’ve been on the outside for a lot of the saga but the issue hasn’t changed,” he said.
“Clearly I’ll get involved over the coming weeks but this will happen behind closed doors before we can move on,” he added. —