‘Cook is a unique and constant leader’

England selector James Whitaker has defended the ECB’s decision to keep Alastair Cook in the one-day captaincy until the World Cup, saying the batsman is ‘unique’ in his abilities as a leader.

Cook came under heavy fire during the English summer, with defeats to Sri Lanka, and a series loss to India in the ODIs, causing even his close friends to question his role as skipper, as well as his place as opener.

But the selectors, after a long meeting, named him as skipper for the tour to Sri Lanka in November, and as long as he stays fit, he will be the skipper at the World Cup come February, regardless of form.

Whitaker said: “Leadership is unique and it takes time to develop. We believe Alastair still has the skills, the drive and enthusiasm, which are all great qualities, to instil the right direction and control of the players.

“He’s fully respected within the group and, more than anything, we believe he is a very constant person. The highs and lows he’s have over the last 12 months: it takes a unique sense of will to come through that.

“To keep getting up when you’re knocked constantly and to show a degree of humbleness when you’re doing well is unique in any leadership. We believe we have a unique leader and a unique person and that should not be underestimated.

“Alastair is learning still, of course, and doesn’t always get it right. But he gets it right a lot. He has some good senior players who can help him and advise him. But we still believe he will it right the majority of the time.”

Aside from his leadership abilities, Cook’s form with the bat has been a major concern, one that has increased the pressure on the side as he’s failed to reach 80 in his past 40 ODI innings. But Whitaker is confident Cook, and other senior players, will come good.

He added: “There are two or three senior players who know that, while getting 30 or 40 is just average, they need to get scores beyond 80. We still feel we have those senior players in that team who can achieve that. We’re very confident they can.

“We need a base and Alastair, batting at No.1, can create that base. If he can concentrate working hard on his game – which we believe he is capable of doing – he can form the partnership at the top of the order that give us a good chance of winning games of one-day cricket.”