Opinion: Liking the look of 'new era' Cook

Blog Opinion

Unleashed from the shackles of Andy Flower and his laptop (there's a band name there), Cook is sounding more relaxed, more free and more human. He's beginning to throw off the role of Automaton and is thinking for himself.

Something weird is happening in English sport. Roy Hodgson has created a football team that doesn't look like it will stink out an International Tournament and are exciting to watch, and likeable. The England Rugby Team have stopped throwing dwarves about and acting like pillocks, and are being competitive against the All Blacks.

And the first signs of 'new era' England cricketers are that they will be exciting, more entertaining and, given time, successful. They're still a work in progress, of course.

There are still some chinks the armour (a spinner for example) but whether by luck or judgement, England have stumbled upon a team that with a couple of tweaks has the makings of a decent Test team and one with a bit of longevity. They've also managed to stumble upon a group of players who the public will, if they don't already, really like.

The new era has begun well. They came with in an inside edge of winning a Test match on a pitch that made Amsterdam look undulating. The rejuvenated and rested Anderson and Broad appear to have shaken off the traumas of the winter and were back to somewhere near their best.

Chris Jordan will, with a minor technical tweak or two, probably pick up a yard of pace but looks every bit an al rounder international cricketer. Liam Plunkett steamed in with admirable relentlessness.

Even Cook is showing signs of blossoming into a better captain. Yes, he perhaps should have declared a bit earlier and had a dart at the opposition on the evening of the fourth day. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

Unleashed from the shackles of Andy Flower and his laptop (there's a band name there), Cook is sounding more relaxed, more free and more human. He's beginning to throw off the role of Automaton and is thinking for himself.

With the support of Peter Moores, who whilst prone to management burble, is a man with a human touch who isn't run by the analysis, Cook can begin to work out what sort of captain he wants to be, what sort of leader he wants to be. Sporting a funky bit of facial hair, we could see the beginnings of that.

His innovative field placings may have been, as he admitted, Jimmy Anderson's idea but Cook felt confident enough to take the suggestions of his senior players without worrying that the coach was going to disapprove of him going 'off-plan'.

Whilst some (me included) will never forgive Cook for his part in the sacking of Kevin Pietersen, we are where we are and he's now in charge of an exciting and likeable group of players. He may never be quite the risk-taking captain than some want him to be and he's never going to make us cry with laughter in a press conference. He might however, become his own man and a good leader.

Joe Root, Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes (when he returns) and Gary Ballance will probably be the core of the England team for many years to come. Cook is still a young man and he can lead this group of players – who are very much still a work in progress – towards a sustained period of success.

It won't be quick, England supporters will need to be patient. There are some substantial on-going issues with the limited overs team but this Test team feels like it has something. Something exciting and something that we will all warm to. A team that is human and open and shows a bit of raw passion – as this one does – means that supporters are more likely to be patient if success isn't immediate.

The scars of the winter are still pretty raw and there's a long way to go but on the basis of this one Test match, cricket fans will return to the fold pretty soon and the longed-for 're-connection' with the fans is one step closer.

<b>Lizzy Ammon</b>

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