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Monday, March 29, 2010

Cook experiment was worth taking

So after a brief spell as top dog Alastair Cook will return to the rank and file when he next lines up in an England shirt.

Full-time skipper Andrew Strauss will return for the home series with Bangladesh after missing the recent tour which England won comfortably.

The eventual aim is to ensure Strauss is fit, fresh and focused for the Ashes next winter so it was no surprise he talked about that series when discussing the benefits if his voluntary lay-off.

Ordinarily it would be a bad idea to pick and choose your appearances for your country, especially as captain.

But in this instance, with the international calendar ever busier, I feel they made the right call and turned the negative of an overcrowded fixture list into a positive.

England were expected to make a clean sweep in Bangladesh with or without their captain's influence. So while he was resting and thinking of bigger challenges ahead it gave the chance for a future skipper to spread his wings.

Alastair Cook may have a bit to go before he can take the job on full-time, but there is no doubt he will benefit from this experience. Many captains are thrown in at the deep end and it is sink or swim time. The pressure to get results in an unforgiving test arena can prove too much and even if the side is winning, the distractions of the job can have a negative effect on the players batting or bowling.

Thankfully the latter did not happen to Cook who continued to bat with poise and purpose. He has been in that unique position of having a trial run with minimum pressure and time and chance to learn from his mistakes, something many previous captains never had. Anyone who had an England cricket bet  on the side to achieve a whitewash in Bangladesh would have been happy with Cook's efforts.

Strauss will hang onto the top job for a few years yet but when he does pass the captaincy on he can be confident his successor will be ready for it.

Meanwhile, in horse racing news, pundits have been preparing their Grand National tips and many feel last year's winner Mon Mome could make it two wins in a row.

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