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Cook rails at Warne criticism

George Dobell at Headingly
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Alastair Cook was labelled 'Captain Cautious' by Shane Warne during the Ashes whitewash © PA Photos
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Alastair Cook has called for "something to be done" about what he sees as personal attacks upon his ability as a captain by Shane Warne.

Warne, who has a column in the Telegraph and works as a pundit on Sky Sports, has been a persistent critic of Cook since he was appointed to the England Test captaincy at the end of 2012. Often describing him as "boring" and "negative", he even suggested Cook should be replaced by Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Swann ahead of the winter Ashes series.

Just as Warne used to test the patience and confidence of many England captains as a bowler, he has continued to trouble them as a pundit. While his recent criticism has been no more severe than normal, the repetitive nature of his comments - and he is nothing if not consistent - appears to have worn down Cook. The England captain finally snapped on Thursday in a radio interview with the BBC.

"Something needs to be done," Cook said, "because in three years I've been England captain I have just, in my eyes, been criticised for a hell of a lot of that.

"Yes, when we lose games of cricket as a captain you get criticised. But I've also won a lot of games cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain, won an Ashes, won in India away and that's what I'm proud of as well. So to be criticised for three years, totally, with those results, I find quite hard to take to be honest with you.

"Support and positivity is what this England team needs. The crowd at Lord's were brilliant, the public there were fantastic, got behind the lads and they really drove off it and a bit more support like that will hold everyone in good stead."

Asked whether he thought the criticism was personal and whether a century at Leeds, where England play Sri Lanka in the second Test, would change anything, Cook replied: "Yeah, I think it is [personal]. It probably won't change anything, which is sad."

It is unlikely Warne will be discomforted by Cook's words. Indeed, he may delight in Cook's irritation. Warne's loyalty to Australia is never too far from the surface and there were times over the recent Ashes series when he appeared to be goading England to change the tactics that had served them well in the previous few years. The 'mental disintegration' he used to attempt on the pitch, he continues to deliver from behind a microphone.

And while Cook may win some sympathy from those who find it ironic that Warne accuses anyone of being boring - suffice it to say his commentary stints are remarkably consistent - his somewhat intemperate comments risk making him appear weak and defensive. This was an occasion when Cook might have been better advised to play with the straightest of bats.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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