Atherton: Does Cook have a scrambled brain?

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Former skipper Mike Atherton conceded England captain Alastair Cook is not leading by example in shot selection during the ongoing Ashes series in Australia.

Former skipper Mike Atherton conceded England captain Alastair Cook is not leading by example in shot selection during the ongoing Ashes series in Australia.

Bowled by seamer Mitchell Johnson in the first innings, Cook perished on the pull shot to the same bowler in the second, as the tourists slipped to 172 all out and 247 for six in reply to the hosts's twin declarations of 570 for nine and 132 for three in the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.

"The worry is the shot that Cook played. He is usually so unflappable, so calm and normally so clear-thinking at the crease. Here you've got a situation where he's played a poor shot to a short, fast ball from Johnson. He wasn't in control of the shot," Atherton told <i>Sky Sports</i>.

"Is it the shot of a man with a scrambled brain? Is it the shot of a captain who is under serious pressure? You don't know, really; you're trying to get inside the man's head. It is certainly not a Cook-like dismissal.

"He is normally very hard to prise out. He's been a rock for England for a number of years now so it's a worry if he's starting to make mistakes so early on in the series."

Erstwhile all-rounder Ian Botham, meanwhile, lauded a steely half-century from batsman Joe Root. The talented right-hander compiled a defiant 87 to push the fixture into a fifth day.

"I thought Joe Root played exceptionally well. He hung in there. There was talk about whether he should bat at three or five but I thought he played very well with Kevin Pietersen; it was almost like the big daddy looking after his son out there," added Botham.

"Root was unlucky to get out the way he did. It was good to see Pietersen play well and play within himself and try to build a big innings, which is not the way Kevin likes to play. He likes to dominate but today he realised that he had to work hard and he did."

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